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.

the trail full of leaves

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 snake

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.

Nora with her cats

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:

a face

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.

the face with colored leaves

Anyway, our next wander was Wednesday the eighth. The trees were in their full glory. The cloudless sky was vibrant.

golden leaves

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:

Nora as seen through a tree

The girls collected the leaves they deemed worthy. Even Ella found one she thought was cool.

Ela with her leaf

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.

Nora getting a cattail

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

Nora with seed floating around her

Flocks of robins filled the trees around the lake. They will be a welcome sight next spring!


Here's the girls by the lake.

the girls

Chickadees and small finches were everywhere, oblivious to our presence as they harvested berries and seeds.

a chickadee

Swarms of birds dotted the sky.

lots of birds in the sky

A close-up of milkweed pods:

milkweed seeds

Anna's friend Wooly Bear hitch-hiked a ride across the prairie and to the campgrounds.

Anna with a caterpillar

The Caleb Bird was waiting in a nearby tree for us. (All his sisters took that as an open invite to join him.)

Caleb in a tree

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.

Caleb's selfie

The s'mores were perfect, as usual.

a s'more

The sunset battled clouds, but managed to give us quite a show.

the sunset

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.

the moon

It weaved in and out of the clouds as it continued its accent. It was the perfect end to the evening's wanderings.

the moon in the clouds

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:

Grandpa and the girls on the wagon

Here's Nora picking Fireside apples:

Nora picking apples

Anna did her best:

Anna picking apples

Rosa was determined to get the juicy ones at the top for me.

Rosa climbing the tree

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?)

a face of apples

After the apples were picked the girls headed to the play area. Anna and Nora tussled in the hay.

Anna in the hay

I explored the garden area, which was full of finches chirping and flitting from bush to bush.

a finch

Bees and butterflies poured over the remaining flowers.

a bee and a butterfly on flowers

The gang knows just what to do with these:

hamming it up in a cut out

Isn't the kid supposed to catch the bus, not the other way around?

Nora and Rosa hamming it up with a bus cut out

One last shot at the orchard:

Nora on the hay

On to the next Wednesday wander. Same bat-time, same bat-channel...

yellow leaved trees

The woods definitely had a new look. Golden yellow was the hot trend.

yellow leaves

the woods in yellow

Even the mushrooms on this tree sport the latest must-have color.


Just one of the many gentle giants of the woods:

looking up at a tree

Well, what have we here?

Batman in a tree

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.

Batman taking a selfie

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...

golden leaves

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.

a snake

While the golden leaves are awesome, the radiant red ones stop me in my tracks. Here's all three primary colors on display:

red and yellow leaves with the blue sky

(Unbeknownst to me, Batman caught me in the act of tree watching)

Shannon tree watching

The girls quickly resumed their favorite prairie pastime:

Nora, Rosa and Ella throwing milkweed seed

Soon the air was filled with the silky puffballs

Um, Nora, you seem to have something in your hair...

Nora with seeds on her head

Princess Rosa seems to enjoy this activity way more than grabbing dead snakes.

Rosa in the seed storm

Speaking of snakes, while we were wandering the prairie, guess what the boys ran into?

a snake

This amuses me on so many levels...

Batman filming a snake

Here's the shot Batman took.

the snake

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.

Batman and his batarang

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.

the vulture

After we sized each other up for a bit it swooshed right over our heads...

the vulture flying

confusing the swarm of red-winged blackbirds heading to their roost for the night.

the vulture and the other birds flying

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.

the frog

Who knows? Maybe he did. I wouldn't have missed it.

the sunset

The lake reflected the color-changing clouds perfectly.

clouds over the lake

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.

Anna in the leaves

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 moss

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.

a snake

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:

Shannon and Anna

Finally Caleb and Alex appeared. (I've learned to just not ask.)

Alex and Caleb

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?

Alex upside down on the playground

Caleb on the playground equipment

Caleb climbing

Maybe we didn't really want to know.

Alex on the climbing mountain

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:

mushrooms making a face on a tree

Alex also found this interesting growth with a moss hat. Sort of looks like Kermit the frog with an eye patch, doesn't it?

a mushroom with green moss

The boys found wild tree shaping. What trees don't do for fun.

tree shaping trees

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...)

Caleb in the deer stand

One last picture of Alex and Caleb's adventure: Raccoons like the beach, too.

raccoon track

Now that we were all reunited: s'more time!

the gang eating s'mores

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.

Where do you want to go next? Click below:

click here to go to Waveofjoy's Homepage

click here to go to the updates page

click here to go to the photo galleries

click here see our latest happenings

click here to go to our blog

click here to go to our links page