It’s Wednesday evening and I’m on my way down a country gravel road to have a visit with friends. A nice ride at sunset, one that makes me want to slow down and take it all in. Standing pretty at the edge of a pasture and not far from the car, is a brown cow. She looks my way and I wave just before I spot the little calf at her feet. From the looks of it, I must have just missed the beg event. The calf was only a few minutes old and hasn’t even stood on his knobby legs yet. Mom beds down and licks her new pride and joy. The big new world looks pretty so far.
Luck is with me tonight as I drive along next to the Kickapoo River. A stately bald eagle perched on a dead limb peers down at the water below, searching for fish in the moving current. This guy’s been around awhile and doesn’t seem to mind tourists, so he lets me snap his picture before I leave him to catch his dinner. The bald eagle’s diet includes fresh fish and carrion mostly, but it can catch small mammals and larger birds if they have to.
The chickens are up with the sunrise at the Radtke farm. It got a little chilly in the night and the warm sun makes the hens cluck and chatter with pleasure. Pete the peacock struts out into the yard to greet the new day and Thomas turkey leads the way. They are an unusual pair but seem to get along together.
The long shadows grow smaller as the sun’s rays creep up over the tree tops and across the autumn landscape. It’s a beautiful morning and I regret every sunrise I’ve missed over the years.
Someone left me a little gift at the doorway—on the porch floor, lying motionless, was a tiny common shrew. The house cat, who is a great mouser, doesn’t have a taste for shrews and probably thought he would leave me a gift. Shrews are carnivorous and spend all their waking hours hunting for spiders and insects and are also excellent mousers. I felt bad that the cat ended his life but we at least get a chance to see the shrew close up.
It was good to see a little green heron at the edge of the marsh pond this morning. I’ve seen several of them this summer as they stalk through the shallow waters searching for minnows, frogs and tadpoles. Green herons are about the size of crows and may be seen flying over a marshy area or following a winding creek or river.
Haven’t seen a hummingbird at the garden flowers for a couple of days and I suppose it’s time for them to move further south. I’ll try to hold that memory of that little hummer hovering in front of a pretty blue morning-glory. I remember that first ruby-throat who showed up one day in early May, it was his humming wings that first got my attention. I remember how busy he was and made a little chattering sound as he flew from one columbine blossom to another. It’s a little sad to know I may not see another Hummingbird until next May but it’s a wonderful thing to look forward to. I always remember the words to that old Seals and Croft song from the sixties, “Hummingbird don’t fly away, fly away.”
The little water striders gather on the glassy water of the spring. It’s a cool morning but the striders don’t mind and they seem to be watching me as I dip a pail of water from the spring. I can usually count on seeing the water striders until the first week of December when the water begins to freeze.
I never get tired of watching the full moon each month. Taking a walk when the moon is full is one of my favorite things to do, no matter what season it is. Tonight I had no trouble seeing where I was going in the moon-lit valley. The insects singing their mighty songs and a barred owl calls to her mate. The moonlight always motivates the coyotes to sing out their high-pitched howls, yips and yaps—sounds that can raise the hair on the back of my neck when I they’re close by.
There is still lots to do before the cold comes but I’ve been pretty good at getting to the important things like putting up some new stove-pipe and stacking some firewood near the house. I still need to fix some windows and seal up a few cracks around the doors. I love living in this old school-house but getting ready for winter is always a challenge. If I want some apples to eat this winter I’d better get busy and pick them before they fall off the tree. I’ll pick some extra for the deer and rabbits. I know how much they appreciate an apple on a cold winter morning.