Friday, October 09, 2015


The sugar maples and fall wildflowers are ablaze this week with salmon-colored leaves and goldenrods still shining in the sun. With the cicadas and katydids officially quiet at night, I'll welcome fall and the sweet, timid chirps of crickets who now fill the night air. Sadly, even the most gentle brush against rank vegetation still results in massive slugs of seed ticks, thousands of tiny ticks on the landscape still active in the second week of October. Unfortunately, they remain the bane of fall hiking and will likely persist until the first frost.

Shorter days translate into less time outdoors as we march towards those days of pitch black nights starting at 5 o'clock p.m. It's not as much fun to pitch a tent when nightfall comes so early in the winter months so I'm using my tent every opportunity I can this fall. And there are still so many awesome plants in flower these days, including downy gentians which must possess the richest blue in all of nature, on par with my dart frog from Surinam.

This weekend I will begin preparing my Halloween costume. I wanted to buy a creepy vintage 1950s Collegeville costume from an Etsy seller, a fortune teller or a drunken clown, but I was scolded by not only my secretary but everyone else that it is imperative that my costume is homemade. And pertinent. With the black bear population on the awesome increase in Missouri, and a great source of fake black animal fur on sale at my local craft store, black bear it is. Bear presence awareness is becoming necessary throughout much of the Ozarks, which is spectacular. Now if the mountain lions would reproduce to a degree to control the out-of-context deer overpopulation problem. So many signs of deer overbrowsing, especially on high quality forbs, and few even noticing. Well, botanists notice, but there aren't many of them these days, are there....

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