Archive for Thursday, October 20, 2005

Some of nature’s best happens in fall

October 20, 2005

Each fall I am reminded how much I love the changing seasons -- the slant of the sun as it shines through the trees capturing the changing colors of the leaves, marveling at the beauty of a tree, the harvest moon as it rises each evening and enjoying a visit to a nearby pumpkin patch with my family.

Last week, we gathered my grandsons together and drove the short distance around the corner from Eudora to a nearby pumpkin patch where the kids picked the biggest pumpkin they could carry, and my daughters and I wandered around the farm enjoying the day and shopping the many wares in the gift barn.

It's fun to watch the area family as they work together to maintain a custom that has been theirs for many years. It's fun to watch the grandmother on the tractor accompanied by her grandchildren pulling the wagon around the patch and also fun to visit with the daughters in the barn and to take home a pot of jam or a festive wreath for the door. Best of all is experiencing the permanence of place, family and tradition. We are fortunate to have such a unique family farm that brings so much enjoyment to others right here in our own back yard.

I have also been experiencing nature in other forms -- for instance, have you ever wondered why birds gather on telephone wires? Lately I've noticed how often a large flock will choose to perch on such a narrow little platform while a huge tree may be just across the road. I think my bird watching was inspired by a PBS commercial -- maybe you know the one -- where the musician sits at his piano stumped for the next chord when he happens to look up and notices birds perched on wires in such a way as to form notes and immediately he finds the troublesome chord that had been eluding him.

Other creatures of nature, not as pleasant, have invaded my yard -- moles. The varmints are making mounds all around the patio waiting for Jim Hopson, local landscaper, to come to the rescue.

I was given various remedies to rid my yard of such pesky creatures, including one about how one Eudora woman flushes them out with a hose and batters the creatures when they emerge. Now that's a strong woman. If we ever go to war, I want to get behind her.

And yet another creature that I was surprised to see is the chipmunk -- or certainly what looked like the furry creatures you see in the mountains in Colorado -- which has found his home in a small crevice of an old foundation at a Lawrence business. Waiting for my book club to gather, I sat in my car finishing the last chapter of the monthly book and looked up to see what looked like a very small squirrel watching me from his home in the foundation. Later I noticed he was sleeping and seemed very much at home even close to this busy parking lot. He was very small, brown with a short tail with stripes down his back. I thought I was delusional until my grandson Gabe told me he had also seen such a furry little animal in the same place.

The last of my "nature stories," which may be delusional, is my sighting of a creature I spotted a few months ago loping in front of me across the street from the cemetery on East 13th in Lawrence. It looked like a very large cat with a long tail and a face that was surrounded by fuzzy hair out of which slanted yellow eyes were watching me as I was watching him, her or it. I was so stunned that I stopped the car to stare as it stood on an abandoned porch, until finally with chills down my back, I was stared down by the creature and went on my way only to watch for it to appear every time I go by that corner. Has anyone seen my dingo?

As these glorious fall days grow shorter, I urge you to spend some time on your back porch, step, stoop or patio enjoying and reveling in nature and this beautiful season that ends all too quickly.

Sometimes, it's good to just sit and stare at the clouds or watch the sunset, especially when your body or your spirits need reviving. Maybe you'll notice the birds on the telephone wires or a strange new furry creature in your backyard. I just hope it's not a mole or a dingo.

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