A farmer too busy to notice asks of autumn markers. It’s odd how some seasons, particularly autumn, creep up.
The beginning list took more time than he had, but I mentioned an edible, tasty autumn sulphur shelf fungus down the road, albeit 20 feet up in a black cherry. Still it was likely on his land, or at least on the town road easement.
Nuts, sometimes few, are beginning to fall, as are apples. Deer, turkeys and a host more have found them. One might wonder if any would make a good-tasting dessert.
Walnut leaflets and leaves, too, yellowing and dropping along with heavy, pungent fruits. Goldenrods are turning green fields yellow, and not bothering a soul with its heavy pollen. Many stems are grub-infested. Ice fishermen take notice.
Deer continue changing coat colors, fawns are nearly all solid, velvet is being discarded, and bucks are already raking their antlers on ground under overhanging limbs. Scraped saplings may fare better if they were 15 — not 5 — years old. It’s time to deer-proof special trees, those in barnyards, parks and even city boulevards.
Intermittent high humidity is lessening, mornings are sometimes fresh, white pine needles are playing their autumn tunes when breezes blow through, but old needles are not yet yellowed and dropping. Evergreens have a way of confusing folks.
Dove hunters, sturgeon anglers, ginseng diggers, Canada goose hunters and bear chasers want to be left alone and not hear of water washing away their plans.
Firewood makers are working though the heat and wet and not minding the heavy lifting. This is the first or second heating firewood provides. The next one comes from the furnace.
And the farmer is chopping corn for silage. While he may not be looking, his olfactory system has taken notice the work of fungi and bacteria manufacturing autumn’s pleasant aroma.
So has a host of wild critters looking to fill up before the snow flies.
Even in the cornstalk stubble, most no more than 12 inches tall, kernels, a few full cobs, have attracted the attention of Canada geese, wild turkeys, mourning doves, crows, fox and gray squirrels and of course deer of all sizes and ages.
Two young deer approached a pair of sandhill cranes, the first to land after the last chopper box left the field. The deer continued to follow the big birds and it wasn’t until they gave the familiar, haunting calls that the deer bounded away.
Recent rains, and their destructive power, will be with us for a long while and have impacted many an outdoors activity. Some lowlands may be off limits. Waterfowl habitat increased many fold but spread out game. Forest trails are gone in places. Even November’s freeze-up may not completely cover the outdoors with a concrete surface.
Danger abounds, so be careful out there. Trees, ruts, washouts and undercut stream banks all pose perils.
Generally good moisture delays color changes, and as seen last fall, some leaves find it difficult to give up the hold on twigs until the following spring.
Because of Wisconsin’s forest and plant diversity, broad panoramas of solid autumn color are uncommon in southern Wisconsin. Viewing Wisconsin in smaller parcels, including individual forest sections, trees and leaves, can be just as rewarding. Looking at other plant parts, including fruits and stems, sometimes works. Mushrooms, ferns and evergreens provide some interesting color options.
Autumn’s grand season may be exactly what raises our spirits from late summer furies.
Jerry Davis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.