I have survived another summer and am enjoying the first days of fall. I never have really liked hot weather, and over the years air conditioning has spoiled me, so that I relish cool weather. I am not really crazy about COLD weather, but I can always put on more clothes or otherwise find ways to stay warm. There is only so much I can do in the summer without getting arrested or laughed at, so I get happy as the temperature drops.

We are having our weeks of color in our mountains. The leaves have turned and all their glorious colors are showing. Mother once took a bus tour of New England to see the fall foliage. She said that the trip was interesting, but they did not have anything as beautiful as our mountains when in full color. I believe her.

I have been hiking around my little place. The turkeys are going down the creek in the mornings, scratching up the dirt to find seeds and worms, and the deer are coming in for the new growth where I mowed last spring. I did some brush clearing and let some light hit the forest floor, and the plants have responded with a rush.

I also mowed a hiking trail from the house down to the creek and back. The deer have been using it as much as I have, and either there are a lot of deer passing through or there are a couple of deer practicing for the marathon. There are a lot of fresh tracks down there. Almost all of them are does or fawns, and I don’t think they live on my place, they are just passing between my neighbors’ places and the creek is a convenient corridor.

I have a few acres that have native little blue stem. I had kept part of it thoroughly mowed for the last few years, and it is almost all blue stem, part of it I had let go. I now have a bunch of cedars that need to be cut down (anyone need a Christmas Tree?), some staghorn sumac and other trees that need to be bush hogged off to let the blue stem grow again. That will be a good project for this winter, when I can retake that field and build up some body heat at the same time.

I will go over the place in the next couple of months and decide which trees need to come down on my hillsides to let the light hit the ground. I had one ridge cleared two years ago and the hickory, oak and beech trees have really responded. I need to clear another ridge and thin out trees in two other places. I do not expect to live to see all of this become a hardwood forest instead of a cedar thicket, but it makes me feel like I am doing some good.

I have five bird feeders in place, and it is amazing how fast they get emptied. I have some squirrels helping empty them. I don’t particularly want to convert the squirrels to stew, so I plan to put dried corn on the cob out between the woods and the feeders, and see if I can short-stop them. We have been seeing birds that we had not seen in years. Finches, Towhees, Carolina Wrens, Orioles, Nuthatches, Chickadees, Yellow Hammers, Red Headed Woodpeckers and Cardinals, to name a few.

The Cardinals have a system worked out. They roost in pairs in the apple tree. Two pairs work the feeder at one time. When one pair finishes eating, they fly away, the lowest pair in the tree come to the feeder and the others all move down. When it snows they look like an animated Christmas Tree.

Meanwhile, the doves are on the ground under the feeders eating all of the grain that has been spilled out by the squirrels and other birds. They are all getting ready for the winter, storing up fat and in some cases hiding seeds to carry them over until spring.

These are reasons why my health gets better in November.

Don Jackson, a husband, father, veteran and lifelong outdoorsman, writes Outdoor Ramblings from his home in Greene County.

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