A Walk in the Country

Brilliant fall foliage

Brilliant fall foliage

October 17 – Earlier this week we drove out the 15 miles to the area where we wanted to pick up a new burning barrel. We had planned before we left to walk along one of the country roads we had not checked out before. Good idea, because we really enjoyed all sorts of interesting things. Well, they might not be interesting to other folks, but Dale and I always like to find something new as we walk.

Talk about beautiful! The skies were cloudless, the sun was warm, and the wind had decided to quiet down, after being so strong in the morning, helping to dry the laundry! This weather reminded me of suns and skies and clouds of October in one of my favorite poems by Helen Hunt Jackson. Can’t remember how old I was at the time I learned all of the stanzas, but I was in about fourth grade. The strange part about my being partial to this poem is that the author brags up October, especially pointing out that June is only second rate, and MY birthday is in June! My brother and Mom’s were both in October. Here is the first stanza, you can find the rest here. How much we two do enjoy just taking it easy as we walk, noting all of the signs that fall is coming to a close, and soon it will be winter.

O suns and skies and clouds of June,
And flowers of June together,
Ye cannot rival for one hour
October’s bright blue weather;

We saw lots of osage orange trees (called hedge apples around here because most of the wooden fence posts are made of osage) all along the road, some with big green osage fruit on the ground under them, and others with not one fruit. Dale pointed out that the male trees produce no fruit, while the females really make up for it. I think there must have been a couple hundred under one of the trees. Lots of fun, picking up those hedge balls, taking good aim, and sending them down the hill, expecting them to head for the ditch at the side of the road. But some of them kept right on going till they were out of sight. Once, when I had stopped to check out birds, Dale kept on walking down the hill. Taking one last shot, I threw the ball down the middle of the road, but at the last minute it veered right and almost hit him in the leg!

We saw a group of pretty birds in the sunshine, flying around the trees, but couldn’t figure out what they were. At first we thought they might be cedar waxwings, but seeing them closer up, we knew they weren’t. Noting the longer beak, and the long tail feathers, Dale came up with, “I’ll bet they’re yellow billed cuckoos!” Checking that idea out in our bird book at home, we found that he was right! Just across the road from the birds we found wild asparagus in a long row, about 200 feet. Somebody who lives in the houses nearby must have an asparagus feast every spring! Lots of that wild stuff around our house, too, but not as dense as that. There were a number of juniper trees, with their typical blue berries, making a real show. Behind a big barn we saw a large group of lotuses in the big pond, or lake. Of course, all of the flowers are gone now, but I’ll bet it is really colorful when they are blooming. Once on one of our walks, I circled a pond, trying to get the best pictures possible. That was fun, except for the time that my foot slipped, and I almost dove into the pond. OK with me, except I didn’t want to ruin my camera!

As we walked past one house, a pretty big black dog came rushing out, barking fiercely all the time. I always try to make friends with those dogs we meet, hoping that if I am friendly I won’t be bitten! Well, that dog did come over to me, but not very close. As I kept repeating, “Good dog, good dog, while holding out my hand palm up, he looked ahead and saw Dale with his big stick. Dropping back again, he continued to bark fiercely! After about three times of trying to persuade Dog to be friendly, I gave up, only to repeat the same procedure when we walked past its house on the way back to the truck!

At the next house, Dale walked across the road to check out a mail box. Just then I could see a pickup coming toward us, and I called out, “There’s a truck coming. Maybe those people live here and they’ll wonder what you’re doing there at the mail box.” When he stayed to do whatever he was doing, and I could see the truck coming closer, I walked pretty fast to get away from him, just in case they gave him a hard time! You guessed it – those people were the owners of the mail box with a yellowish sign stapled to it! Dale told me, when he caught up, that the sign mentioned something about builders, so he lost interest. At the end of the road we could see that fields of corn had not yet been harvested. Good reason. Corn is so cheap this year that nobody is selling, and there’s just not enough storage space for it. Some are feeding the corn to their calves, as it’s cheaper than regular feed.

Supper was about an hour late, but I wasn’t hungry anyway. That night there was a lot of cheering among the KC Royals fans, as the team won their game against the Baltimore Orioles, sweeping the series 4-0. Good for them, but I still cheer for the Cleveland Indians, as one of their farm teams was the Erie Sailors, and we counted it a real treat to be able to go to some of their games back in Erie, PA when I was a kid. – CHRIS

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