Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Fall Colors and Other Happenings

Leaves are quietly changing colors from green to yellows and reds and other autumn colors, as the days grow shorter. The colors are beautiful, if maybe a little muted this year. Intense fall colors result from bright days and cold nights; this fall we've experienced few cold nights and no killing frost. A few nights ago the evening temperature was 70F.

On Sunday, a cold rain almost tempted us to start a first fire of the season in our wood stove. Early October seemed like the right time of year for a fire, but we held off as the rain ended and temperatures rose. Daytime temperatures remain in the 60s and 70s.

The extraordinary pepper crop continues to produce a bounty and I harvested an armful of eggplant from our garden yesterday.
Deer still jump the garden fence some nights to nibble down the Swiss chard. Skunk are active at night too, digging small holes in the yard in search of grubs. Snakes--brown snakes, milk snakes, and garter snakes--are still sunning themselves on warm road pavement; some don't survive. Chipmunks are everywhere--in stonewalls and wood piles, in their round underground tunnels dug among the gardens, in roads feeding on nuts. They drive Henna and Kodi crazy as they scurry just out of reach and then up a tree.

The warm days and nights give animals more time to prepare for winter and for more southerly species to spread northward. Opossums seem more common than ever in our region; unfortunately I know this because of the ones I see killed on the road. This marsupial has a narrow braincase and favors a diet of carrion, which leads to bad endings on the roadway.

The warm weather has given us more time to get our firewood supply cut and stacked. Our first year of wood gathering and stacking needed a better plan. We stacked dry wood too far from the door and the wet wood is close by. So we've spent hours moving wood here and there, searching for the sunniest spots in our yard to ensure good drying conditions. As we moved the driest stack of wood, we uncovered a small congregation of young garter snakes and a few unhappy wasps.
It is a busy, beautiful time of year, except for animals that venture onto roads.

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