“Autumn that year painted the countryside in vivid shades of scarlet, saffron and russet, and the days were clear and crisp under harvest skies.” ~ Sharon Kay Penman, from Time and Chance

Autumn Enveloped, Spring Grove Cemetery &; Arboretum, Cincinnati by David Ohmer

“The heart of Autumn must have broken here,
And poured its treasure out upon the leaves.” ~ Charlotte Fiske Bates, from “Woodbines in October”

Saturday afternoon, partly cloudy, hotter and humid, 85 degrees.

Any day now we’re going to get a break in the weather and have nice fall temperatures. Any day now.

Corey is working on the fence again. Somehow, the goats and horses have all found ways to escape from the pasture, which I know is frustrating the hell out of Corey. At the moment, Beric and Daisy are in the back pasture, and the rest of the goats and the two horses are in the large pasture, or at least they’re supposed to be. At the moment, they’re on the front porch.

Autumn Reflection Spring Grove Cemetery & Arboretum, Cincinnati by David Ohmer (FCC)

Early this morning, after letting all of the dogs out, Freddy returned smelling of skunk. Fortunately he seems to be the only one who was sprayed directly, but boy did he get the full treatment. It was hellacious. I sprayed him with one of those dog calming sprays that I keep on hand, but that was only a temporary measure until we were out of bed. Corey gave him a bath, and that seems to have taken care of the eau de skunk.

“Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.” ~ George Eliot, from a
Letter to Miss Lewis, October 1, 1841

Anyway, I had something in particular in mind for today’s post, and it’s an offshoot of my griping about the hot temps, but in a good way, if that makes any sense at all . . .

Climate experts (weather.com) say that 2019’s warmer than usual September means that leaves will change color across the U.S. about a week later than usual. I was unable to download the interactive map showing nationwide fall foliage peak dates, but I did manage to capture two dates showing peak time in our area, which is supposed to be somewhere between October 26 and November 2. Corey’s mom likes to try to catch peak foliage, so I’m hoping that this tool will be of value to her.

2019 Fall Foliage Map & Nationwide Peak Leaf Forecast (10-26-2019)
2019 Fall Foliage Map & Nationwide Peak Leaf Forecast (11-02-2019)

Apparently, each year since 2013, smokymountains.com publishes this interactive map for those looking for peak leaf viewing around the country. Wes Melton, a data scientist and CTO with smokymountains.com, told Travel + Leisure:

“The predictive fall leaf map helps potential travelers, photographers and leaf peepers determine the precise future date that the leaves will peak in each area of the continental United States . . . We believe this interactive tool will enable travelers to take more meaningful fall vacations, capture beautiful fall photos and enjoy the natural beauty of autumn.

Although the scientific concept of how leaves change colors is fairly simple, predicting the precise moment the event will occur is extremely challenging . . . The major factors impacting peak fall are sunlight, precipitation, soil moisture and temperature. Although we cannot control Mother Nature and ensure 100 [percent] accuracy, our data sources are top-tier and each year we refine our algorithmic model achieving higher accuracy over time.”

Moving the slider at the bottom of the actual interactive map (found here), will display the best opportunities for when and where leaves will be near peak, at peak, and past peak in the coming weeks.

“How beautifully leaves grow old. How full of light and color are their last days.” ~ John Burroughs, naturalist

There’s nothing quite like a hike in the Blue Ridge Mountains in autumn. It’s something that I first began doing right after Caitlin died, and I’ve tried to do so as often as possible over the years since, in particular along Skyline Drive, the historic 105-mile National Scenic Byway, which traverses Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. There are nearly 70 scenic overlooks along this north-south route. I have stayed several times at Skyland Lodge, which is located at the top of the drive. Go here to see available lodging in and around Shenandoah; I would recommend the cabins for a more rustic experience.

A view of Skyline Drive in late fall (NPS image)

Another beautiful route for viewing fall foliage in the mountains is the Blue Ridge Parkway, which traverses 469 miles through 29 Virginia and North Carolina counties and spans the southern and central Appalachians. The Parkway links Shenandoah National Park to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Lodging here is varied and includes B&Bs, lodges, cabins, and hotels, among others; we stayed at Peaks of Otter Lodge the year I was pregnant with Brett.

Bittersweet memories . . .

By the way, since I always get this confused, I thought that I’d offer a clarification: The Blue Ridge Mountains (Eastern US) are part of the Appalachians (eastern counterpart to the Rocky Mountains), which are a system of mountains forming a barrier to east/west travel and extending 2,000 miles from Newfoundland to central Alabama. The Great Smoky Mountains (SE US) are a subrange of the Appalachians and a part of the Blue Ridge Mountain Range. Shenandoah National Park is in the Shenandoah Valley, which stretches 200 miles across the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains. The Allegheny Mountains are part of the Appalachians.

  • Mountain range: series of mountains
  • Mountain system: group of mountain ranges
  • Subrange: seen as parent-child relationship (Appalachians parent to Blue Ridge child)

Got it? Me neither. More later. Peace.


Music by September’s Birds,”Honey, You Don’t Know”


Autumn

All day I have watched the purple vine leaves
Fall into the water.
And now in the moonlight they still fall,
But each leaf is fringed with silver.

~ Amy Lowell

 

Do you know where your eggs are?

 Close Up of Tree Frog on Pool Pump

Close Up of Unidentified Tree Frog on Pool Filter by C. Fickel

“How strange that Nature does not knock, and yet does not intrude!” ~ Emily Dickinson

“I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.” ~ John Burroughs

So I was floating around in the pool this afternoon while Corey was vacuuming, and we have sad news: Apparently the tree frog that has been living somewhere in our backyard deposited her eggs in the pool unbeknownst to us. We didn’t find out until all of the tadpoles surfaced when Corey added the chemicals to clean the pool.

Face of Sun Sculpture
Close Up of Sun Sculpture by C. Fickel

One of the great things about having the tree frogs in our backyard is that I am certain that their singing probably drives our nosey neighbor nuts. She (the neighbor) is not a delightful individual, and I think that I can safely say that she finds our backyard habitats irksome. Oh well.

In case you are wondering why I have such an antipathy for this neighbor, let me give you a few examples of her less-than-neighborly actions: She once called the city on us because we had a compost pile. Her complaint? It was a rat harborage. The guy from the city who came to inspect our backyard was very nice and told me that he saw nothing wrong with our yard. When I asked who had complained, he said that he couldn’t really tell me, but if I watched where he went when he left our house, it would be pretty obvious who had called.

Yep. It was the nosey neighbor.

Another time, after a hurricane had demolished many trees and shrubs in the neighborhood and left most of the city without power for days, we had put the dead branches out by the curb as the city instructed. The city also said that there was no guarantee as to when they would be able to collect everything as there was so much destruction throughout the city.

Well, this particular neighbor didn’t like the fact that our branches were out for several weeks, even though we were following the city’s instructions, so she and her adult daughter took it upon themselves to place the branches in the back of Corey’s truck. We caught them in the act and asked them what they were doing.

Nothing. Like young children being caught stealing. Not us. Nothing. I don’t know.

Have to love the neighbors who spread that warm sense of community. Even kindly Mr. Rogers would not have liked these women.

But I digress . . .

“Give me odorous at sunrise a garden of beautiful flowers where I can walk undisturbed.” ~ Walt Whitman 

Squirrel Treefrog, Mt. Dora, Florida (rotated canvas), by Janson Jones
Squirrel Treefrog, Mt. Dora, Florida (rotated canvas), by Janson Jones

So the tree frog tadpoles perished, which is a shame. But the pool was very relaxing today, and I enjoyed my diversion, even though both Tillie and Shakes were trying mightily to engage me in a game of water tennis. Because I would not throw the ball for them, they took turns jumping into the pool after dropping the ball into the water. I’m sure that it was a conspiracy led by the fat one. It’s hard to ignore a Labrador who swims around you and drops a tennis ball onto your float, but I did my best.

In spite of the dogs’ best efforts to distract me, I enjoyed the sounds of lapping water, occasional birds overhead, and the sweet, sweet smell of the last gardenia blooms on the bush.

Other than that, I have yet to tackle the baskets of clean clothes that are still blocking my way to my closet. The shoes are still in a pile by my feet, and the stack of papers perched precariously on my printer has not been touched.

One thing at a time. And having just concluded a telephone conversation with my ex, I don’t really feel up to tackling much of anything. He exhausts me. There is no other way to put it. Even when he is seemingly in a good mood, our conversations always seem vexing, and I finish them feeling as if I need a strong drink or a hot bath or both. So I’ll just eat a few cookies instead and try to put his testiness out of my mind.

But why oh why does he tell me things and then insist that he never said them? I mean, it’s not as if he’s on medication that affects his cognitive abilities. I have a theory that he is still trying to get me to crack under pressure.

Bothersome neighbors. Trying ex-spouses. Irksome laundry. My personal axis of evil. And technically, that should be ax-es, plural, but hey, why be picky about a phrase adopted by a president who spoke of OB/GYNs practicing love on their patients.

So with that in mind, I thought that I would leave you with this classic SNL skit: Will Ferrell as President Bush on the Growing Axis of Evil . . .

  

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More later. Peace.

more about “Will Ferrell “Axis of Evil”“, posted with vodpod