Our habitat enhancement is paying off. In the last few days I've seen several cock pheasant flying into our front yard tallgrass area, while there's been a nicely sized covey of quail living in the back for months now. (The last time I saw them, I'd estimate there were about 15.)
The feeders are jumping with activity. I haven't been actually counting yet (I do my first Cornell FeederWatch count on Monday), but I've seen a nice variety of birds on a regular basis: pine siskins, red-breasted nuthatches, red-bellied woodpeckers, cardinals, blue jays, Harris sparrows, white-crowned sparrows, house finch, house sparrows, downy woodpecker, tufted titmouse, goldfinch, red-winged blackbirds, robins. Hairy woodpeckers and chickadees are rarer. And I've seen purple finch and rufous-sided towhees once so far this fall.
I was gone for a week, getting back last Tuesday. When I left, most of the trees still had their leaves; when I returned, most had lost them. It's amazing to me how quickly that change occurs.
Speaking of which, we've started leaf rustling - picking up bags of leaves that have been left by the curb. We tried to start running them through the chipper/shredder today, but it got mad about being neglected for so long and had to be taken to the shop for some coddling and intensive care treatment. I'm really looking forward to all of that great leaf mulch - I can't think of anything better to enrich the soil, hold in moisture, and keep the weeds down. Best of all, it's free!
I have to laugh at myself, though. The leaves that I pick up have been bagged and put out at the curb to be taken to the landfill, but I STILL feel very self conscious about picking them up and putting them into our pickup. It's really sad to reflect on how tame my version of "living dangerously" truly is!
With Thanksgiving almost upon us, it feels like we're totally immersed in fall now, and I'm starting to get hints of winter. I went out earlier one night earlier this week to cover some container plants that I haven't put in the ground yet...and it smelled like winter. The sky was crisply black, the air sparkling and snapping. It felt great, but I'm not sure I'm ready to move on to another season at this point.
Well, the weather waits for no one, so I'll just take what happens and make the best of it. Right now, the best feels pretty darn good.