Today my wife and I went out for a walk. It was late morning. It had been raining, really just showers on and off, but the rain had let up so we thought a walk would do nicely. We were in a dry weather window, so we ambled up the road. It was a tad muddy. A couple of new houses are being built nearby and the road has been getting chopped up a bit. I wore the wrong shoes. Crocs. Not the best for a damp gravel byway.
My poor choice of shoes didn’t matter in the end anyway. As we walked through the woods, looking out at the field, I asked “Do you think that is rain coming our way or just wind?” The answer: “I think it might be rain.” The sky in the west was dark. That dry weather window closed quickly.
It rained steadily and then harder, and harder. And it kept coming down. Deluge. We got soaked. We stood under some trees for a bit, although that hardly helped. We turned around for home. It kept raining. Before we got back to the house the sun broke through. Blue sky and wind. If we had waited a half hour longer to begin we would have missed that downpour. But our day would have been less interesting.
The foliage has been turning. It is not at its most brilliant yet, but it is still a sight. With cool air, and yellows and oranges sprouting among the trees, autumn is sliding on in, excusing herself to step in front of summer. As we walked the last stretch to the house, we got to see some of her beauty. Autumn wasn’t showing off, mind you, but she is dressing itself up lately. Even with my Crocs squishing and my shorts soggy, I couldn’t help but admire how good she was looking today.
I went for a morning walk today. We had some fairly warm days this week (it got to 40 degrees yesterday) but the river is still pretty much frozen over. When I got to the bridge over the river, I peered down to see how much open water was there. There was a small opening, maybe three feet long and less than a foot wide. The water burbled under that opening, proving that river is still alive under all that ice. And then this little dude popped up.
I had only been there a moment when I saw a brown something-or-other approaching the opening. I thought it was a branch at first, floating under the ice. But it was a mink. It slipped right up onto the ice and stood there, looking around. I had plenty of time to watch it. I eventually had the stellar idea to put the camera into video mode, but as soon as I hit record the mink disappeared again into the water.
No other water is visible from the bridge. I figured it would have to come back that spot. I waited and waited, video mode at the ready. But no dice. Maybe there is a hole under the bridge. I got no video, but I got to watch a mink up close. Good enough.
On the way home from work this afternoon I stopped by Shelburne Pond to take a quick walk. I trudged through the snow on the trail, looking and listening for birds. I didn’t find much–a couple of distant crows, a few chickadees hiding in the thick evergreens. I figured it would just be a contemplative walk without much in terms of avian fauna. And then an owl took off right next to me.
I heard it. This may not sound like much but owls are quiet. Their feathers are designed for silence. That is how they can sneak up on their prey at night. They make almost no noise when they fly, but I was close enough that I really heard the whoosh of its wings as it passed me. It flew up into a tree above me and I got to watch it for a while.
It flew off again and then again, back the way I needed to go. I walked back and had another great look at it. “You are an amazing creature,” I told it, and I was not fibbing a bit. After a few minutes I left it in peace, in the silent gray woods.
Yesterday I picked up our farm share. We switched this year from Stony Loam Farm to our neighbors who offered shares for the first time this year. We loved Stony Loam but the Needham Family Farm is close enough that we can walk there. It was hard to give up a relationship of several years with some folks who are just plain awesome, but this made sense to at least try. Typically more than one of us walks over; often we all do as a family. But yesterday I went solo since I was the only one around. It was a fine day for a walk.
The Needhams do things a little differently. Instead of a box that we pick up on a certain day of the week, their farm stand is open every day. We go on the day that works best for us. And instead of a particular allotment of produce, we choose from what they have. We get a set number of points each week and can divide those points how we want. The have produce–this week included kale, swiss chard, lettuce, beets, zucchini, summer squash, peas and some other stuff–and they also have eggs (we get these every week), frozen chickens, maple syrup, honey, granola, quiches, pies and other prepared foods. This week I picked up a jar of honey since I was planning to put some in the beer I made today. I got beets and squash. I walked home with a bag full of good stuff.
This is working out well for us so far. We were away last week and picked up our share when we returned on Saturday; we did not worry that we would miss pick-up day. It isn’t perfect–we missed out on the early tomatoes because there just are not many and they are popular, and it is less social than meeting everyone else who has shares on pick-up day–but overall I am happy with the system. Simply being able to walk over makes working with the Needhams a good deal. It may be muddy and it may be dry. The deer flies may be out or they may not. The oaks will be there on any day, however, and the path will offer a mini adventure any day we go.
Last weekend we had some fine weather. We took a family walk with some friends in Shelburne, had a picnic, enjoyed the views and the cool breezes. Good times were had. We had some of this:
Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks
And some of this:
Last night, the clouds starting dropping their burdens. Today we had a whole lot of this:
Rain While Waiting for the School Bus
I walked around outside a bit today and I got wet more than once. I have to say, however, I love this stuff. Fall rain, with foliage turning and the cool air and woodsmoke in the air. I mean, does it get better than that?
It was wet this morning when it was time to meet the school bus. We went anyway. That’s the rule apparently.
How about we just not walk down to meet the bus this morning? Stay at home where it is cozy and dry?
Can’t. Gotta go to school. That’s the rule.
Umbrellas helped. The big fat black one and the little green frog one. The wind blew. Pants were moistened. My daughter got on the bus with her arms wrapped about her. Smart kid.
Walking back to the house with her brother was wetter. We walked into the wind. He hardly noticed. He wanted to stay out, in fact. At another time I would have encouraged it. Get wet! Romp in the rain! Play in the puddles! But we had to go. The clock is a cruel master.
The rain had stopped by the end of the school day. The sun brightened the tops of the clouds. My daughter and I walked back, dry. We laughed at her water bottle; it seems the bottom came unglued. “We’ll have to glue gun it,” she tells me. Indeed. We also laughed at her description of playing Twister with her classmates. She was the first one out. She didn’t mind.
It rains and your pants get wet. You fall down first in the game. Don’t mind that. There is laughing and playing to be done.
Every morning the spiders get to show off their evening work. They spin during the night and in the morning have crafted their best to catch breakfast. I see them when I head out for a run, if the sky is bright enough by the time I get back. We see them when we walk down to meet the school bus. If we are lucky, the dew has been heavy. If we are even luckier, the sun angles just right to catch the dew-covered webs. There are hundreds of them, so many it would be impossible to count them all in the short window of time when the light reveals them. Once the day advances too far, they disappear. I have tried to photograph them but haven’t gotten a good broad shot of many of them at once. You’ll have to settle for a close-up: