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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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From My Window

Issue Date: October 6, 2021

Arresting Autumn

By Jane Thibodeau Martin,




**********

Today I had a "retired person's day off," meaning I had no scheduled activities. So I moved slower this morning, pausing in front of the living room windows to admire the solid wall of color developing in the woodsline just feet away from the glass. I found myself wishing I could somehow halt the march of time, and keep the seasonal progression from continuing for a month or two.

Somehow hold those spectacular leaves on the trees. Keep the flocks of migrating waterfowl on Hank Lake. Prolong the time for preparing for winter, not just the physical tasks of washing windows, putting the garden to bed, and dumping flowerpots but also the mental preparation. Everything takes me a bit longer now than it used to; and I don't want to be rushed.

The deer hunting excitement is already building, with trail camera pictures flying from our house through cyberspace to Seattle and Tulsa. A video of a resident doe and her two fawns shows the transition from fading spots on the youngsters in August to solid coats like adults in September. The video clip of a six and an eight point buck together garners many comments. But my favorite trail camera capture was a short video of an elusive creature of the forest, a gorgeous fisher.

We suspected we had at least one fisher from a short cell phone video our son took from his tree stand a few years ago, but the animal was moving fast and at a distance, and its size was hard to judge. Fishers are similar to pine martens, but fishers weigh about eight pounds and martens are much smaller, about three pounds. The new video shows the animal checking out a stump, giving us a good size gauge, and is clearly a fisher. Fishers have a body shape like otters, long and lean. It is a beautiful animal, but I know the local rodents are less fond of their deadly predator than I am. Fisher's preferred habitat is mature hardwood forest, and ours is full of their preferred prey species. I feel blessed to know it is out there, and I welcome it.

We have at least three large flocks of turkeys utilizing our land, and hear their clucks and yelps from sunup to sundown. Evidence of their forging is all over the woods, with large patches of scratched up leaves scattered everywhere. The young of the year are getting hard to distinguish from the adults now. We enjoy watching them too, but their frequent shuttling through the game trail that is just below our patio and only a few yards away triggers the dogs numerous times a day. The dogs resent the presence of any creature so close to our house, exempting only small songbirds from their red line. As more leaves fall, revealing more of the game trail to scrutiny from the house, the more sharp-eyed Wolfgang sees violations, and the more barking we endure. The sliding door is opened and closed many times every day to allow the dogs into the fence to address the turkey situation.

Flock after flock of mixed species ducks and geese overnight on Hank Lake, usually taking flight with a cacophony of honking just after sunrise. I think about their young of the year, setting off on long cross-country flights for the first time. They are accustomed to flying between feeding and rest areas, but these long hauls must seem baffling at first. I wonder what happens to young birds who tire and can't keep up ?? does the flock slow to accommodate them? What about older birds ?? do some get too infirm to accompany the flock? I am filled with wonder than a gosling fluff ball weighing ounces at hatching this spring can be strong enough to fly great distances at five or six months of age. Last night the waterfowl were joined by our friends the sandhill cranes, who saw fit to set up a great vocal clamor after the sun set. The dogs ignore the raucous crane calling during nesting season, as it goes on so frequently; but after a crane absence of several months, their other-worldly sound rouses Wolfgang from his bed to object again.

The kitchen processing has switched from garden beans and tomatoes to fall raspberries, now requiring daily picking; and apples from our two little trees. Mike and I do not need to be eating a whole apple pie, so I got four miniature pie plates, and with a bit of experimentation on the recipe enjoy personal pies with no leftovers to tempt us the next day. There is nothing like homemade apple pie, with freshly picked apples. I am grateful such a treat is not available all year round, sabotaging my efforts to maintain a healthy diet.

I find any excuse to get out in the woods, enjoying the beauty without any pesky bugs. Please, please, slow down, autumn. I am not yet ready in any way for your icy sister, winter.

NOTE: Last week's column mentioned a 400 year old cello still being played regularly, and I was trying to think of some other item (other than buildings) 100 years old or more still in use for its original intended purpose. Our son, an amateur blacksmith, said anvils that old are still in use. Good one! And I can testify anvils that old still command a hefty price, as you can buy a new anvil for what you would pay for an old one.

Book I am reading: (I am reading again now that darkness falls so early!) "Midnight in Chernobyl" by Adam Higgenbotham (Non-fiction.) A suspense thriller, of such intensity I must occasionally put it down, about the tragedy, heroism and death during the Soviet nuclear disaster in 1986. Horrifying, and clearly points out that our green energy future should not include nuclear power. I can honestly say this book gave me anxiety, but I think it is important we clearly understand the risks of nuclear power.

You can reach me for commentary, alternative viewpoints or ideas at this e-mail address: JanieTMartin@gmail.com.


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