Passing Beauty and My New Friend

Maine’s autumnal show ain’t over til it’s over! There is still much to appreciate right now including my new chipmunk friend, Cider. At first I thought he lived in my neighbor’s yard but I followed him home and see that he’s living on the other side of my house. About four days ago Buster and Ricky went south (a few feet) underground for the winter so they aren’t here to chase Cider away. Sunny is still awake but I know that she, too will soon be in torpor for winter and the passing of summer’s growth will be complete once it’s covered with a cold white blanket. Thankfully that’s not happening in the near future!

Here are some pics I just took to share all this remaining loveliness with you, including Cider’s audition to be a model.

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Late October Gratitude

“A snug and a clean home, no matter how tiny it be, so that it be wholesome; windows into which the sun can shine cheerily; a few good books (and who need be without a few good books in these days of universal cheapness?)–no duns at the door, and the cupboard well supplied, and with a flower in your room! There is none so poor as not to have about him these elements of pleasure.” -Samuel Smiles, Eliza Cook’s Journal, 1850

There was a lone late October rose growing on one of the bushes that I cut and placed in a stem vase today. I came across the above quote minutes afterward! It really speaks to me. One doesn’t need to be poor or have a large, modern kitchen to enjoy the many riches to be found in the simple things! Here are some more gifts I’m appreciating right now:

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Storm Drama and Autumn Delights

I took some photos of the foliage in our woods a couple of days ago before the storm (“bomb cyclone“) hit last night knowing that many of the leaves would be blown off the trees. The winds packed a powerful punch with gusts up to 60 mph. I got out of bed at 3:00 a.m. and made the coffee knowing that a power outage would be likely if not imminent. Forget bread and milk–dealing with a storm without that hot morning cup is just…no. The winds were literally roaring outside just like the storm two years ago that knocked down a large tree in our yard. Around 3:45 the power predictably went out. The house was silent which made the noisy mayhem of wind and rain outside seem even louder. As long we didn’t hear any snaps, cracks and thuds of falling trees and…

“What was that? Was that you?” I asked Wayne who was in another room.

“No, I thought it came from the kitchen.”

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Peak Fall Foliage Drive

Yesterday morning we went apple picking for the fourth time this season and took a drive to admire the stunning colors now that they’re peaking. One of the countless things I love about living in Maine is that you don’t need to spend money other than on gas to “do things”. I can’t think of a better production than what is happening around us right now and it’s completely free to witness. I hope you’ll vicariously enjoy our drive and scenic stops along the way:

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Local Color

While out walking in my neighborhood just now I saw a very little boy riding an even smaller peddle car. His grandmother was walking slightly ahead of him. He was going slowly which is to be expected. I smiled and said hello as I breezed past them.

“Why isn’t this going faster?” he asked his grandmother.

I thought that was such cute, innocent kid logic. If you see other cars zooming past, or an older lady walking more quickly then your ride, it’s a natural question, isn’t it?

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Frugal Lawn Care Saved $800 (and Our Yard!)

Up until two years ago I had hired “lawn care” companies to “treat” my yard with fertilizers, herbicides, aeration and reseeding. For about $400 a season the grass had many dead spots and would turn brown in the summer despite watering it. When I’d contact the companies to ask why I was told that the grass had gone dormant for the summer. I went through three different companies over eight years. Besides being expensive, harmful to the environment, beneficial insects and wildlife it was making our yard look worse! I told Wayne last spring we would cease paying and spraying and came up with a plan to save money and the living things:

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Forbidden Fruit on Friday the 13th

At the express check-out line at Whole Foods this morning I was greeted by the cashier who often checks me out weekly, so to speak. He’s always very jovial, not just to me but everyone, but he said something that startled me!

“You are a great lover.”

What did he just say?! I immediately blushed and said nervously laughing, “What do you mean I’m a great lover!”

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Missing the Chipmunk Babies

After five glorious days of watching the babies poke their heads out of the burrow with mom pushing them back down, seeing the babies standing up at the top of the burrow and playing what looked like patty-cake with each other (my degus do that, too!), and exploring places not too far from mom, they have left home! I thought they would be around much longer, at least a week or two. The babies will now have to find an abandoned burrow or dig a new one while avoiding predators including humans, stock their burrow with enough food for the winter by the end of October when they will go into torpor until they re-emerge in April or May, all without any training whatsoever. Instinct is truly awe-inspiring, and the life of a chipmunk continues to fascinate me.

The Improvident Chipmunk’s Shocking Secret

Unlike any other chipmunk I’ve know or read about, and going against all instinct, there was a chipmunk eating seeds on our deck instead of stuffing his cheeks and bringing them back to his burrow to store for the coming winter. People wonder how I know the gender of a chipmunk. It’s always been a guess and this one was a give-away: Ricky, as I named him, would gladly eat what I served him but then always left the shells behind so that I had clean up his mess. “Typical man!” friends would say when I shared the latest chipmunk news. (It warms my heart that people ask and take an active interest in their antics. If they don’t ask I tell them anyway.)

In reality I had no idea what was actually in store for the future. Ricky was not all what he seemed to be, and neither was Tailor, the chipmunk living in our side yard with a black “ring” around her tail and named after Elizabeth Taylor who  loved and kept many chipmunks as pets and had a famous fondness for jewelry.

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