Put The Lawn Furniture Away Holiday

I don’t know the why of it, but it seems that each year when we plan to put the lawn furniture away, the forecast either includes wind gusts or snow. Well, yesterday it snowed. Not a lot of snow, mind you. But enough.

1-snow on the kayaks

It was, however,  melting quickly when we stopped by camp to begin our autumn chores.

3-porcupine tracks

Upon our return home, I diverted my attention for a bit and headed off into the woods, where much to my delight, tracking opportunities made themselves known. Though I didn’t see any of the creators, I smiled with the knowledge that I can share this land with them. Along the way I found a porcupine track pattern,

4-coyote--18 inch stride

plus a coyote with a stride of about nineteen inches (when you don’t take a tape measure it pays to improvise),

5-snowshoe lobster

and my favorite for this first tracking day of the season . . . a snowshoe lobster–I mean hare.

6-moose scat

Another favorite sighting, which I spied a few times–rather fresh moose scat the size of chocolate nuggets. (And no, I didn’t collect it to make jewelry. ;-))

7-my own track

As I moved, I left behind my own tracks and wondered if the mammals looked at those and knew I’d passed by. “Middle-aged female, the one who stalks us,” they might comment if they could talk. But really, it’s by my scent that they probably know me best. “Stinky middle-aged female . . .”

7a-leaves enhanced by snow

It wasn’t just tracks that caught my attention. The snow, spotted with tree drips, enhanced the color and borders of the foliage, making each leaf stand out.

7b-leaves under slush

In contrast, a more muted tapestry formed where foliage was trapped in slush-topped puddles.

8a-melted snow on sugar maple

And then there were those leaves turned upside down. I was fascinated by the variation of size in the water drops left behind as the snow melted. Every dot enhanced the pastel back-side colors . . .

8-melted snow on big tooth aspen leaf

and acted as a scope by showing off segments of venation.

9-snowdrops on grass

Patterns changed depending on the shape of the structure to which they clung.


And all were momentary for each drop eventually did what they do . . . dripped.

11-tachinid fly

While I admired the beauty, I wondered about the goldenrod that still bloomed and reminded me that though it had snowed and we’ve had some rather cold days, today was a bit warmer and it’s not winter yet. But those cold temps of a few days ago, I think they caught some by surprise, including this tachinid fly that dangled from another flower stalk.

12-hickory tussock moth caterpillar

And several times I found hickory tussock moth caterpillars frozen in place. While I admired the way the melted snow drops clung to the hair, I wondered about what I was seeing. Was it a shed skin? Or had this caterpillar been taken by surprise with weather conditions?

If you know, please enlighten me.

As it was, I needed to finish my wander for there was more furniture to put away on the homefront.

13-red-backed salamander

And when we opened the cellar hatch door to store the table and chair downstairs, another discovery was made . . . an Eastern red-backed salamander on top of the first step.

The day probably should have been named “Day After the First Snow Storm of the Season” but instead it was our “Put the Lawn Furniture Away Holiday.” Not everyone celebrates this day, but we do because as exciting as it is to bring the furniture out in the spring, it’s equally exciting to put it away and anticipate the coming season. Oh, and when we pull it again in the spring, you can trust that it will snow at least one more time.




Finally Flakes

White stuff fell from the sky today–a late date for our first measurable snowfall.


Yesterday, I saw a dandelion blooming in Denmark as I participated in Maine Audubon’s annual Christmas Bird Count. Today, I assume that yellow blossom is snug below about five or six inches of snow.

While on the bird count, I practiced using my new macro lens, but didn’t have the telephoto lens in my pack because it wasn’t working correctly. Miraculously, I solved that problem this morning and am back in business–taking photos with several different foci.



ruffled red breasted

From the get-go, the feeders provided a source of energy and entertainment. I wonder who ruffled the red-breasted nuthatch’s feathers?

cat trax

Perhaps it was a cat. Let the tracking season begin! I noticed this set leading from the barn, where we watch anywhere from one to six neighborhood cats emerge. I’m not sure which one owns these prints, but it stayed close to the house rather than making the usual venture to hunt below the feeders.

vernal pool slush

After scooping the driveway snow, I was antsy to check things out in the woods. The vernal pool is covered with slush–we need a few nights in the deep freeze to firm things up. Looks like we could hit negative digits by next week. Not sure our bodies are acclimated for that this year. Pile on the layers.

grouse trax

Without meaning to, I flushed three ruffed grouse–only their prints showed their presence. And my heart beat.

turkey trax

A flock of turkeys had also traveled my way, leaving behind their trademark signature.

snow on wood pile

snow 1

I hadn’t expected too many tracks, so pointed the lens toward the snow and its presentation on a variety of subjects.snow on astersnow on hardtack

Atop asters and hardtack,

snow on balsamsnow on bulrush

balsam fir and bulrush, each crystal clung.

 snow on cinnamon fern snow on sensitive fern

Some were embraced by cinnamon and sensitive ferns,

snow on w. h.

Still others formed blankets of protection.

frullania, leafy liverwort

And then I turned my attention elsewhere. The leafy liverwort in the genus Frullania beckoned a closer look. Like mosses and lichens, liverworts are nonvascular flora.

frull 5 

Most are green, but Frullania is brown. As it weaves in and out of the crevasses on the ash bark, its structure reminds me of ricrac, that zigzaggy trim we used to add to sewing and craft projects.

w. nest 2

This hornet nest always deserves an examination of structure, texture and design. Constructed from chewed up wood strips mixed with sticky saliva, this is an incredible undertaking.

nest compartments

Each tiny cell once housed an egg. While the males and the old queen died in the autumn, the females who mated have burrowed into tree stumps and other cozy spots to survive the winter months.

 striped 3 striped 5

One of my favorite finds today: clusters of striped maple samaras dangling from a tree–waiting for the right moment to disperse. Insect wings come to mind.


Because the ground hasn’t frozen and we’ve had so much rain lately, I left a few slushy prints.

deer trax 1

As I retraced my steps, I discovered I’d had company. Unfortunately, I never saw the two deer that crossed behind me. We were silent partners in the winter world.

cardinal 2

Home again, I’m thankful for the male cardinal that graces the backyard on a regular basis. Sometimes his mate accompanies him, but I didn’t see her tonight.

It’s beginning to look and feel like my favorite season has arrived. Flakes finally fell–YAHOO!