The first of October was a Wednesday, so we headed back to our usual park for our weekly wander. There had been some rather windy days, so the forest floor was littered with Autumn's paints.
Quite a visual feast, but it also made walking quietly quite difficult.
Needless to say, we didn't see many native critters.
While clamoring up from a ravine, Rosa grabbed a tree and let out a yelp. Her hand had grabbed a dead snake. (This sort of thing always has to happen to the princess in the group, doesn't it?) Anna, Nora, and I inspected it thoroughly while Rosa whimpered for some hand sanitizer. We decided it had been killed by a tree climbing mammal and dropped, it's body catching on a small branch on the way down.
The cloudy day brought the evening's darkness quickly, so we headed back to the campgrounds, found the princess some hand sanitizer, had some s'mores, and headed for home.
There has been some awful crud working it's way around the region. I watched helplessly as the boys all fell to the ailment. First they had headaches so bad they couldn't leave bed. Then fevers. Then stomach issues. Alex and Caleb were out for about a week. Corbin took a good two weeks to recover. He lost so much weight he looks like a totally different kid!
The girls and I tried to be as quiet and caring as we could for them. Here's Nora getting in some snuggle time with her two cats, Luigi and Cookie.
I find it hard not to get a bit panicky this time of year. It is so gloriously beautiful, but I know what is coming. The COLD.
I love being outdoors. My body, however, does not handle cold well. I have this ridiculous reaction when the temperatures get around freezing. Even with my nice thick mittens, my fingers will literally freeze. I will find myself stuck to the shovel I am holding after only a couple minutes. I cannot uncurl my fingers. For that matter, I can't even feel my fingers. One of the kids will pry my hands off, and I will have to go inside. Slowly my fingers will swell to three times their normal width and feel like they are burning. Then they will itch like mad. Next comes the cracking and bleeding. My toes do the same thing. Makes wandering a bit of a challenge.
So why go out? I'd go stir crazy if I didn't. I LIKE shoveling snow. I love sledding and romping about in the still of winter. So those of you who can enjoy winter with ease, get out there!
Anyway, I was feeling rather down on a cloudy dreary day when I peered out the window and viewed this scene on our neighbor's lawn:
I started laughing. That face totally made my day. I was just as pleased a couple weeks later when ATV face colored it's hair.
Anyway, our next wander was Wednesday the eighth. The trees were in their full glory. The cloudless sky was vibrant.
It's harder to find mushrooms when the forest floor is covered by six inches of freshly fallen foliage, but these little guys stuck out.
Nora's been framed:
The girls collected the leaves they deemed worthy. Even Ella found one she thought was cool.
We wandered to the pond to see if the wood ducks were still about, but all was still and quiet.
We all know just what to do with vines.
Nora ventured out and got a cattail all on her own.
The girls love finding ripe milkweed seed pods out on the prairie. It's a race to see who can grab the most pods and fill the air with the seeds
Flocks of robins filled the trees around the lake. They will be a welcome sight next spring!
Here's the girls by the lake.
Chickadees and small finches were everywhere, oblivious to our presence as they harvested berries and seeds.
Swarms of birds dotted the sky.
A close-up of milkweed pods:
Anna's friend Wooly Bear hitch-hiked a ride across the prairie and to the campgrounds.
The Caleb Bird was waiting in a nearby tree for us. (All his sisters took that as an open invite to join him.)
Caleb definitely inherited my tree-climbing gene. He conveniently takes selfies of himself in the tree, so if someone ever comes across his body in the woods, we'll know what happened.
The s'mores were perfect, as usual.
The sunset battled clouds, but managed to give us quite a show.
Caleb, the girls, and I went out onto the prairie's hilltop to see if we could see the rising moon. The night before it had been spectacular. Right when we were about to give up I thought I saw something bright red through some trees. Caleb shouted "That's it!" and took off running. The girls and I followed. We crashed through a grove of trees and found ourselves in a clearing. We all sat down, one by one, and watched the moon rise.
It weaved in and out of the clouds as it continued its accent. It was the perfect end to the evening's wanderings.
That Saturday afternoon Grandpa came to visit. The day was wonderfully warm and sunny, so we headed to an apple orchard. My favorite are Firesides, which were just right for picking. Here's Grandpa on the wagon with the girls:
Here's Nora picking Fireside apples:
Anna did her best:
Rosa was determined to get the juicy ones at the top for me.
Ella usually screams and runs away when I try taking her picture, but I managed to get a shot of her at work.
Guess what I found? (Admit it, you see a face, don't you?)
After the apples were picked the girls headed to the play area. Anna and Nora tussled in the hay.
I explored the garden area, which was full of finches chirping and flitting from bush to bush.
Bees and butterflies poured over the remaining flowers.
The gang knows just what to do with these:
Isn't the kid supposed to catch the bus, not the other way around?
One last shot at the orchard:
On to the next Wednesday wander. Same bat-time, same bat-channel...
The woods definitely had a new look. Golden yellow was the hot trend.
Even the mushrooms on this tree sport the latest must-have color.
Just one of the many gentle giants of the woods:
Well, what have we here?
What's really funny is Alex wore his costume assuming we'd be the only ones in the woods (we usually are), but we all forgot it was MEA week here in Minnesota, which means all the kids had a long holiday weekend. Couple that with the gloriously warm and sunny day, and we have campers everywhere!
Somehow I don't think Alex really minded.
Alex, um, I mean Batman took off with Caleb, while I steered the girls away from the other humans. I was so busy looking up at the eye candy...
that I almost stepped on a bunch of sunbathing snakes. Oops. After hanging out with the snakes for a bit we headed for the prairie.
While the golden leaves are awesome, the radiant red ones stop me in my tracks. Here's all three primary colors on display:
(Unbeknownst to me, Batman caught me in the act of tree watching)
The girls quickly resumed their favorite prairie pastime:
Soon the air was filled with the silky puffballs
Um, Nora, you seem to have something in your hair...
Princess Rosa seems to enjoy this activity way more than grabbing dead snakes.
Speaking of snakes, while we were wandering the prairie, guess what the boys ran into?
This amuses me on so many levels...
Here's the shot Batman took.
Alex got some Batarangs not realizing the ones he ordered were real. Needless to say, the only thing he ever flings them at are dead trees.
Anyway, back on the prairie... A large bird soared over us and landed by a small swampy area. Naturally we went over for a look. One look at the head and we knew what it was: a turkey vulture.
After we sized each other up for a bit it swooshed right over our heads...
confusing the swarm of red-winged blackbirds heading to their roost for the night.
On the way back to the campground Anna and Nora found a dazed frog on the main trail. We brought the poor thing down to the beach. It just rested there while we watched the sunset. Anna informed me he wanted to see it, too.
Who knows? Maybe he did. I wouldn't have missed it.
The lake reflected the color-changing clouds perfectly.
The next Wednesday was such a change. The party was definitely over. The trees had all lost their golden dresses.
Nora, Anna, and I ventured into the woods while Alex and Caleb wandered off on their own adventure. Campfire Corbin and Rosa chose to wait for us by the campgrounds.
Here's Anna in some of the remains.
I saw weird growth on a tree. When we went closer to check it out, tiny eyes peered at us from every little hole and crack. Soon mice were crawling wildly all over it. Very cool.
Down by the pond, Nora noticed the moss on the fallen trees had grown "mini-cattails," as she puts it.
The air had a definite chill to it. The girls were all battling colds, so the only sound we heard was the occasional cough from Nora and Anna. They were just lamenting the lack of wild critters when we finally can across one.
Not wanting Corbin and Rosa to be waiting for us too long, we headed back. We roamed the beach while waiting for Alex and Caleb to return. Here's Anna and I beach side:
Finally Caleb and Alex appeared. (I've learned to just not ask.)
I got the answer to the unasked question when they sent me their photos. So what were they up to while we were wandering the woods?
Maybe we didn't really want to know.
Caleb did get one shot of the more serious side of Alex, though.
They also wandered the woods, too. Here's Caleb:
Alex found this awesome face and took a picture for me:
Alex also found this interesting growth with a moss hat. Sort of looks like Kermit the frog with an eye patch, doesn't it?
The boys found wild tree shaping. What trees don't do for fun.
They came across a deer stand. Caleb gave it a try.
If I could interject here: Hunters, no need to have deer stands. Really. Just drive along any of the roads around here at dusk and the suicidal deer practically jump right into the passenger seat for you. (This also makes me realize that we better start wearing bright colors on our wanderings...)
One last picture of Alex and Caleb's adventure: Raccoons like the beach, too.
Now that we were all reunited: s'more time!
It is 43 degrees here as I write this. Will we be going on more wanders yet this year? I hope so. 43 will seem balmy come January...
Just breathe. Okay. Sigh.
We'll end with Birdzie being playful.
Our next adventure? WINTER.