Friday, November 6, 2009

autumn recollections

While the baby sleeps after his first round of shots and I listen idly to the Jeopardy! Teen Tournament, I figured I'd record some recent thoughts and events.

We had one day of ladybug infestation. Clouds of them buzzing in the sunbeams, hundreds stuck to the side of the house. It wasn't just here, either; friends from all over mentioned the same phenomenon. It was kind of cool! We even had one in the nursery, crawling up the alphabet painting over the changing table. The ladybug paused on its own picture for just a moment. A neat juxtaposition.

About 2 weeks ago I hung a suet feeder from the clothesline in the backyard. I've had a few visitors - mostly house sparrows, but also some downy woodpeckers and a white-breasted nuthatch. The suet cake is gone now, replaced with half a stale PBJ.

While walking our babies, a friend and I saw a family of turkeys a few yards into the woods. Not 14 turkeys like I saw in our yard a few weeks ago, but more like three or four. I worry for the animals in my neighborhood. Some big company bought one of the swathes of woodland and put up a fence and now the deer can't get through. And the stables down the road razed quite a bit of land for horse pastures. The turkeys, deer, coyotes, raccoons and foxes are running out of room to live in peace around here.

My mother-in-law said she saw a fisher cat early one morning last week. I hope I see one someday, and yet I am terrified for that moment. My dad told me they sound like someone screaming in the woods, and that really interested me so I did some research. I found some pictures and boy, are they ferocious-looking! I wouldn't want to cross a fisher cat. Yikes!

That open land I found a few weeks ago off Melody Lane - I've been visiting its edge regularly on my bike rides and with the baby on our walks. Lots of good birds over there, and hardly any cars, at least not in the day when everyone's at work. I looked on a map to see the shape of the land and whether it had a name. None that I could find, but I did visit the other side and I found a sign proclaiming it a wildlife refuge and prohibiting hunting. I wonder if that means it's open to the public. It seems sort of swampy but I'd go in prepared.

I was out for a bike ride one afternoon this week. I debated bringing my binocs, because I know if I bring them, I'll look at birds and that is not exercise. I should use my half-hour of bike time to get my heart pumping. So I didn't bring them. But boy did I regret that! As soon as I was too far from home to make it worth turning back for them, waves and waves of Canada geese appeared over the horizon. I heard their cacophony even before I saw them. They flew in over me and seemed to turn at a right angle and head off beyond Neutaconkanut Hill. I watched the last string disappear, bade them have a nice winter and pedaled off.

The leaves have been gorgeous this year. If I recall correctly, RI gets the good leaves about 2 weeks before NYC, and NYC gets spring flowers maybe a whole month earlier than RI does. My mother-in-law drove baby and me to Putnam, CT, today for an appointment, and I couldn't believe the difference a few weeks makes in terms of foliage. When last we drove that way in mid-October, the trees were brilliant in all their flaming glory - red, orange, yellow, brown, gold, and green. Now the hillsides are a nearly uniform shade of rust - at least the trees that still have leaves are. The Great Dump is upon us, and soon I will find some innocent leaf pile to storm!