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Phenology Journal

Toads, turtles, and a mad dash

The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.

Ezra Pound, In a Station of the Metro

I haven’t seen a hummingbird in several days now.

Misty morning walk on the central loop, myriad signs that autumn has us in its clutch. The trails are littered with traitorous maple leaves, ferns are beginning to give ground, other ground cover looking worse for the wear. I look forward to this year’s die-back since it will open the way for me to think about the new legs of the trail system.

The turtle is still withdrawing into its shell in the foreground as Althea trots toward wherever her nose was leading her ...
The turtle is still withdrawing into its shell in the foreground as Althea trots toward wherever her nose was leading her …

The Turtle Dog failed spectacularly this morning, running not only past, but over, a box turtle that was in the middle of the path. The sound of dog toenails clicking turtle shell hung a moment in the air while the turtle was still retreating into its shell. Canine lightning had just shot past, a bolt whose guidance system at the moment was set entirely to scent. The Mighty Althea, 40 pounds of unmitigated be-here-now energy. She made a barking charge at something . No payoff. Intense circling, sniffing, turtle huddled in the background. Beyond her attention span.

We’ve had some rain recently, enough to fruit both of my mushroom logs, even the oyster log that I’d long ago assumed was a fail.

Toad crossed our path as we headed toward Dove Cottage, Althea leashed to prevent a mad dash toward Reggie, the dashing young man who sometimes lives next store. She obsesses over him even if he is pretty rough on her when they play. Strangely, she’s shown little inclination to engage other dogs. Both of my trips to the dog park ended with her clearly not enjoying the society of her own kind. Poor thing is ending up a carbon of me …

Mr. Toad, lying low in the hope that I'm merely curious and not hungry ...
Mr. Toad, lying low in the hope that I’m merely curious and not hungry …

As for the toad, the point of the above paragraph before it dove off the Althea cliff, is that those tiny toads bounce around the forest floor like popcorn after a rain. I really have to watch to avoid stepping on them, and it took me several grasps that came up soggy leaves before I finally nabbed him, doing so while keeping the dog on the leash and out of the way so the toad wouldn’t become a dog treat, though she does avoid them, presumably because she’s had them squirt that mild poison when she’s grabbed hold of one.

I revisited the driftwood area this morning, walking out around it. There’s a lot. I’m leaning now toward leaving it in place and building a “space” around it just by making it more accessible.

The "driftwood," strewn on the south slope of ridge ....
The “driftwood,” strewn on the south slope of ridge ….

So the phenology journal is off in fits and starts. Not daily, as I’d envisioned, but we’re striving in that direction.

Second walk. Mating turtles (no photo; they wouldn’t sign the consent form) and a tiny garter snake maybe 12 or 18 inches, so smooth he submerged in leaf litter before I could get the phone out …

Sun out and late afternoon is radiant. Greens and golds bouncing it in from the west while Althea chases her tail in Innisfree. Winter is coming.

Leaf litter glimmering with maple leaves.

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