Get ready, here comes October. That’s when things are on the move.
We see it moving outside our windows, in our pastures, on our country roads,
in our woods and in our jet-laced skies.
Long, stringy webs, lumpy white in places, drift across the pastures in almost
no breeze. Gossamer angel strings they are, and they hang up on fences in
front of our picture window. They keep waving there until another gust takes
them over to the neighbor’s woods.
Bullfrogs hop across the country roads, mostly at night, in search of new
waters and new mates. How do they know that inbreeding threatens their future
Milkweed pods dry and burst open releasing thousands of fluffy-skirted seeds.
Remember them from “Fantasia?” These tiny ballerinas dance in the winds
seeking soil. They’ll stop in some farmer’s soybean field. In spring they’ll
sprout and grow into thousands of new milkweeds. The cultivator can’t claim
them all. As with butterflies, nobody really owns or controls them. So we pick
them, break open their dry cocoons, pick out the silky mass and toss it in the
air and blow them into their dainty ballet performance.
Scampering squirrels bury hickory nuts, hazelnuts and walnuts in special
squirrel places, for winter food. They’ll not all be found and dug up, so some
will appear as new trees and bushes. Old timers say that a squirrel-planted
tree will outgrow one sprouted in a nursery plot every time.
People are on the move, too. Bicyclists, hikers, joggers and couples strolling
hand in hand soak up sunshine and inhale fresh air following a summer of
re-breathing air-conditioned nothingness.
Cows move from pasture to pasture munching bright green grass that springs up
after autumn’s first rains. They break through barbed wire, if rains are late,
because the grass is greener on the other side.
I’ve seen them get down on their knees and stick their heads under barbed wire
fence, enduring the sting of the barbs, to gather a few green bites that tempt
them from that other side. Their long rough tongues collect fence-row grass in
a fan-shaped pattern and then they back up, move a little and stick their
heads under again.
Wild geese honk at dusk as they choose a field with a pond nearby -- as a good
place to spend the night on the way south.
The purple martins departed earlier. They disappeared one day in August but
reappeared in early September and circled, darted, dived and made a tremendous
commotion. They must have gathered traveling friends because there were far
more than the ones that lived in our own martin house. Suddenly, all of them
But here comes October and the sparrows are busily moving into the martin
house for the winter. They kick stuff out, take other stuff in, and finally
are settled in for winter. The kicking out and taking in will be reversed when
the martins return in spring.
The pond comes alive as an occasional cricket or full-grown grasshopper lands
on the surface. They begin to struggle toward shore and wham! A bass has an
early breakfast or late evening snack.
Bluegills do that, too. Both bass and bluegills feed on insects that drop from
overhanging willow fronds that almost touch the water. It’s hard to flip a
woolly worm “fly” underneath, without losing line, leader and the hand-tied
woolly in the willows.
Frisky fall calves race each other over the pastures to no place in
particular. Like kids and birds of a feather, they gang up together. Calves
play tag games, sometimes in October. They can’t possibly understand that play
is an important factor in their physical development, just as it is for kids.
Artists gravitate to the hillsides to capture the October colors of the
brilliant hard maple, the yellow hickory, the somber purple-red oaks. Green
cedars accent the colors as does the autumn sky. Boone County is October’s
Hunters walk through thick brush and woodlands to search for signs of wild
turkeys. Turkey dung under a tree limb makes them happy, but they won’t share
the location with even their best friends. Come opening day, they’ll
camouflage their faces and hands, wade through wet grass, stalk, wait, shiver
and endlessly repeat the clucking call of the hen. Then, when a gobbler
appears, they can’t bring themselves to raise the weapon against that
beautiful high-stepping, red-combed male.
I’m disturbed from this musing by the honking of a chevron of wild geese
approaching. Honking, honking, honking. The first geese circle lower and
lower, scouting our pastures and ponds. “Get the camera,” I think. No. I’ll
just file this moment away in my memory.
A third flock appears in the sky about the time the first one rejects what we
offer and heads for a bigger lake, two miles away. Soon they’re all out of
I like this time of change with things on the move. Here comes that
wonderfully new month -- October.