Birch

This birch, too close to neighbor hemlock, grows leaning, finds sun where it can. This wet pale October shows little more color than this birch scar.

Maple splashes yellow here and faraway there. Squalls alternate sun, blue and wet across the sky. Playful youngsters now, they’ll mature as real cold sets, getting running starts from west of Erie.

Almost snow today, cold to soon come. Any last colors will present, dry and fall as seasons deepen.

October Morning Geese

While enjoying the temperature and clarity of a fine October morning, the distinctive honking of geese punctuated an otherwise calm mist rising from the valley.

After what seemed like minutes, the gaggle revealed itself. Flying at a considerable altitude, these birds were not commuting across the neighborhood; they were on their way with intent.

From the back of the yard, a doe snorts,  flashes buff from the tall grass, comes to attention, ears poised, eyes intent, gauging me as friend or threat.

The shadow crossing the sun and yard pulls my eyes up as a tree top turkey vulture pulses wings toward unobstructed sky.

Colors seep slowly stronger, gilding leaves and hills, on this fine October morning.

 

 

 

Woodchuck with Apple

For this being and it’s ilk, frequenting my backyard used to be a risky and dangerous behaviour – one with potentially fatal consequences.

A couple of decades ago, dog became frenzied, straining, nearly choking herself on her run every time a woodchuck came out of it’s hole under the outhouse. This went on for many days.

After several mornings of hunt and hide, I and my trusty .22 Browning lever action dispatched one of this critter’s ancestors on the very spot he now enjoys an apple.

Every once in a while over the past few weeks, for the first time in years, I’ve been enjoying target practice with that .22.

I first looked through the open sites of that rifle around a half century ago. As my time with it accumulated, I became able to shoot far away paper targets, woodchucks and rabbits at will. Killed them all.

My backyard’s last dog has been gone for over a year. The woodchuck doesn’t really bother me that much. The way he eats apples, kind of reminds me of how a racoon handles food.

This summer, I’ve been reliably killing already chipped coffee cups and paper plates from well over one hundred feet; shooting as well as I can remember.

When hands and eyes were younger, I’d align the sites on the target, take a breath, hold still and pull the trigger.

Now, I align the sites on the target, try not to move, wait until the sites drift across the target and shoot.

Though they have many times before, lately, those sites never drift across woodchucks, racoons, or rabbits.

American Dagger Moth Caterpillar

This fellow made his way across the bluestone recently. I gave him a pretty wide berth – close enough to get a photograph, far enough that his spikey hairs didn’t touch me as they are somewhat poisonous and will cause irritation.

Wikipedia reports:
Acronicta americana, the American dagger moth, is a moth of the family Noctuidae. It was originally described by Thaddeus William Harris in 1841 and is native to North America.

Then, I noticed that nature had copied the pattern of his yellow starlike fur in green on the forest floor.

Tinker Creek

Earlier this week, this was the view of Tinker Creek immediately before it joins the East Branch of the Tunkhannock Creek.

Usually, this view shows beautiful stone ledges with small, but graceful waterfalls. The other day, however, this ‘babbling brook’ transformed into a ‘raging river’.

Wikipedia reports:

Tinker Creek begins in an unnamed lake near Lackawanna Mountain in Clifford Township. It flows south-southwest for a few tenths of a mile before turning west and entering a wetland. Here, the creek turns north for several tenths of a mile before receiving an unnamed tributary from the right and turning west-northwest. After a few tenths of a mile, it receives an unnamed tributary from the left and turns north-northwest for several tenths of a mile before heading in a westerly direction for more than a mile. The creek then turns northwest, and after a short distance, reaches its confluence with East Branch Tunkhannock Creek.

Fawn

It seems that there’s quite a population of fawn late this summer. A slow auto ride along neighborhood roads just around dusk reveals several doe and fawn within a mile or so.

For everyone’s benefit, all auto rides this time of year that time of day should be slow.

Earlier this week more than a dozen dragonflies swarmed the backyard. How many can you spot in the photo below?

How much different can heaven be?