Sunday, September 11, 2011

Black Trumpets and Flying Squirrels

The coyotes howled from the Mitchell field before dawn this morning. Yesterday it was the raspy call of a fox that caught my ear as I lay in bed. Cold air wafted in our bedroom windows this morning; the thermometer read 48F at 6:00 am. A pair of pileated woodpeckers called from the top of a dead tree over our heads as we walked with Kodi up Bald Hill Road at sunrise. The sun's rays streamed through the fog rising off the wetland. This was a bluebird day in New England - blue sky, no wind, temperature in the 70s, a hint of fall color in the trees.

We spent the day canning tomatoes and peaches and making a big dutch apple pie. Processing your own food is a lot of work, but it feels good as we enter fall, with the garden fading, and winter really not that far away. A bit of summer in the cupboard will taste delicious come February.

Yesterday Kodi and I enjoyed a leisurely walk in the woods, taking a break from what has seemed like a much too busy August and September so far. The hemlock-oak-beech-pine woodland where we walked was full of interesting sights and sounds. I heard a peeper and a pewee, saw a small toad and scads of mushrooms. I found, unexpectedly, my first black trumpets. These wild mushrooms are apparently quite tasty and with no poisonous lookalikes are safe for eating.

Since this group of trumpets was small and along the trail I did not gather them. They were growing not far from a small stream, near a large moss-covered boulder.

Farther along the trail Kodi sniffed at something just off-trail among the leaf litter. I rushed over thinking he was teasing a frog, but to my surprise it was a baby flying squirrel. Its eyes were barely open, its head and eyes large compared to the rest of the body, it cried and squirmed. This young squirrel fell or was pushed out of its nest cavity much too soon. I saw no evidence of a cavity overhead, nor saw any evidence of a predator that might be on the prowl for the baby squirrel. Kodi and I left it behind.

Later, when we retraced our steps along the same stretch of trail, Kodi again tried to grab something off-trail. He had found a second baby flying squirrel. There is not much one can do in such situations. I had no nest to put them back into. And taking them home to raise was not a good option. I left them to their fate, despite their incredibly cute and helpless nature. Here is one of the small flying squirrels. It is still alive, but I can't say I was optimistic about its future.

There is so much to see and hear and smell this time of year. One must take time in between harvesting and preserving food, among other routine work and play, to spend time just wandering in the woods. I've missed these walkabouts and intend to resume more regular treks in the woods with Kodi. He helps me find such interesting things, even things that make me stop and ponder what to do, as with the baby flying squirrels.


  1. Ellen, you are absolutely correct about there is so much to see and hear and smell this time of year.

    The autumn season flashes by in what seem like an instant! And you're also accurate to state that one must take time to spend just wandering in the woods at this time of year. Autumn is a gift, and like all gifts, it must be "opened" if it is to be fully relished and enjoyed!

    Thanks for posting this!


  2. Thanks John. My favorite time of year is upon us and we intend to spend as much time hiking and exploring as possible. Your posts at 1HappyHiker are a great guide for possible hikes.

  3. Fun looking at pictures of you can tell, even in my blog I can't help adding pictures of some of the everyday beauty of life! The flying squirrel is a facinating lil creature.