Second favorite season

After 480 million years, the tor monster still is not done molting.Every year I write at least one column about how Fall is my favorite season. I can’t help it. Well, my second favorite, in truth.

The camp pot is about to start percolating a fresh cup of coffee in time with a song by the Ventures playing in my memory. Outside the kitchen window, the tree I don’t ever remember its name has lost all its foliage, early to bed for the winter season. But the Silver maple, still mostly deep chili green, and the dogwood, in deep chili green and merlot red, are clad in late fall attire.

What appeared to be a Downy Woodpecker happened by the feeder, probably wondering why the suet block has not been mounted. Or was it a Hairy woodpecker. For a long time, they confused me, until I got in my head that the smaller, rounded one with the short bill is the Downy. The Hairy is larger, more streamlined and has a longer bill.

The reason they are confusing is the males of both clans sport red patches on back of their heads.

There are a few other clues that a real birder will mention; I recommend the website for All About Birds for self-gratifying bird identification. And when one still cannot find the object of one’s wonderment, check out the South Mountain Audubon Society. Bonnie Portzline hangs out there and has helped me out several times with birds the names of which I’d heard but not around here.

Meanwhile, a Red-tailed hawk that lives just beyond the trees often plays games with me – and frightens the squirrels, I wager. If I happen to be looking at the appropriate time, the rascal swoops across the yard, a few feet above the ground, scattering the squirrel population, and disappears into the trees beyond the neighbor’s barn.

A few Blue jays and a small flock of English sparrows bathe in the stream and flit up to the dogwood branches to preen. The sparrows and one or two jays likely will stay the winter.

Yesterday, a small flock of Black-capped Chickadees stopped by. This morning, a Cardinal and a Tufted Titmouse decorate the dogwood. The mind wanders.

I  am not one for large crowds, but a hug from a son or daughter, or a favorite niece and her brother, makes me warm all over. Alas, not this fall. Maybe not this winter. I wish I were a bird. As far as we know, our avian neighbors don’t worry about Covid.

Smithsonian Magazine this week reported a record-setting migration by a male bar-tailed godwit. He flew from Alaska to New Zealand, 7,500 miles – nonstop. The story places an interesting perspective on a three-inch bird, one eighteenth my size

We look at the stars on a late summer evening and see light that has been traveling here from its source longer than humans have wandered this tiny lump of spinning rock, mud and fire.

Why is it we look to the stars and want to go there? Why is it we regard ourselves, when we look at us, as the sole inhabitants of the known and unknown universe, but when we write of fictional beings from other worlds, somehow they are so much smarter and more advanced than us?

How much are we like the tiny winged creatures that pass my yard, and could we, one day, make the comparative passage to another being’s home?

Fall is like that bird, leaving one reality behind in search of a destination known only by faith.

And there is a hint about why autumn is my second favorite season.

Thanks for sharing the ride. I hope you enjoyed the trip. Comments are welcome, and please feel free to share.

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