Today is our first full dose of autumn. It has been cloudy and dim all day, even a bit on the foggy side this morning. Looking for all the world like it might rain any minute…though not so much as a sprinkle has fallen thus far. Still the grass is damp, as are the stones around the cottage and the boards of the deck which overlooks the river. Leaves on the sycamore gleam with moisture. Except for all the the green trees and grass, it might visually fool you into equating things with a dreary day in early winter
Which probably explains why, upon his first glance outside, a certain fellow momentarily thought of putting together a pot of jalapeno-laced chili on the stove, and later stirring up a pone of spicy Tex-Mex cornbread. Of course, when our astute fellow stepped onto his deck and found the temperature to be a muggy 79-degrees, he wisely reconsidered his meal plans.
Birds are busy at the feeders—chickadees, titmice, lots of goldfinches, a few house finches, sparrows, a blue jay, cardinals (yes, that near-bald bird is growing feathers) and a half-dozen others. Herds of doves have been marching to and fro across the yard. The hummingbirds are squabbling like tired-out six-year-olds at recess. I keep expecting them to disappear for their wintering grounds any day now…but so far at least four or five continue hanging around. I was awakened at dawn by a pair of Carolina wrens trying to outsing one another.
I did have a fat fox squirrel in the side yard near the cottage this morning, the first I've ever seen on this side of the river. Squirrels are strict segregationists hereabouts—grays on this side of the stream, fox squirrels on the island across from the cottage. The twain does not intermix.
There are also a few pine or red squirrels zooming around over here from time to time, and I sometimes also see them on the island. I would claim these pineys were perhaps trying to bring peace to the warring tribes of fox and gray…except if you know anything about red squirrels, you know they're pint-sized troublemakers and equal opportunity provocateurs.
Squirrels can swim well enough if they want to to make it across the channel between the island and this shore. Too, given the river's current low-water state, an agile fox squirrel could probably hop and leap from rock-to-rock across the riffle and never get his paws wet. But I expect this heretofore unprecedented visit came about because of the tree which fell across the river a month or so back [here] and created a made-to-order fox squirrel bridge. That's the direction he headed when Moon the dog startled him with her through-the-window-screen barks.
All in all, today didn't appear much different than yesterday, or the day before; and tomorrow is apt to look pretty much the same. But it feels different somehow, though maybe that's mostly the power of suggestion and a bit of wishful thinking. Still, a view up the river sees a less vibrant green, a bit of yellowing, a few small patches of tan in the tops of the sycamores, and even a curl of crimson woodbine among the shadows.
Autumn is here in name, and it's beginning to arrive in fact. The times they are a'changin'.