A feast for the eyes

Ann Swanson View From Hickory Heights

It has been a long time coming this year, but it is here now. The hillsides are filled with color. If the sun is out the colors are vibrant, but if it is cloudy they are somewhat subdued.

I think the peak leave peeping season is several weeks beyond the normal. I remember going to Vermont one year during September and it was the peak season for leave peeping. Another year when I took a “leaf peepers” cruise there were few colored leaves in sight at about the same time of the year.

I love the change of seasons. I especially appreciate the beauty that is fall. This morning as I traveled about the county I noticed that the colors have really come alive over the past weekend.

As I sat inside at my volunteer post I noticed a black squirrel climbing up a tree. He was not as large as the ones I have at Hickory Heights, but he was busy. He climbed up the tree and sat on a branch just looking around. Next, he stretched a bit to extend his body part way down the tree. It was not long until he was gone.

Years ago, I remember watching a squirrel at Hickory Heights. It was winter and the ground was snow covered. He was in the side yard traveling beneath the snow. Every now and then he would poke his head up to have a look around. We watched him do this over and over for quite a long time. That was a gentle reminder of how Hickory Heights got its name. There are many hickory trees around here.

Our house was a storage facility for hickory nuts back in the day when animals could get in almost anywhere. When we were jacking the house up to get it level my husband went into the basement each night and gave the jack a twirl.

One day he went downstairs and gave it the customary twirl. The cousins were playing in the little room that has had so many uses since we moved up here. At that point, it was the children’s bedroom. As soon as he twisted the jack the whole wall blew out and there were hickory nuts everywhere. You better believe the children came out of there in a hurry to let us know they did not do a thing.

Back to my observations. I also saw a chipmunk who blended with the leaves on the ground. While I was trying to locate him, three deer ran up the hill. It was certainly the morning for seeing animals.

As I came home I noticed the colors along the tree line at the farm. It was filled with bright oranges, reds, yellows, and of course some lingering greens. The sumac is gorgeous this year with its bright red leaves and the cone like red fuzzy pods.

The golden rod has gone to seed. It is now fuzzy gray. Usually the golden rod is bright yellow as the leaves begin to turn, but not this year.

My yard has a fire bush that is just beautiful. Actually, there are a couple of them but they are not all as pretty as the one by my fence. That poor plant has taken a beating but still puts on a show each fall. I think how red they get depends how much sun they get.

The last couple weeks have been beautiful. The temperatures have been well above the norm, but that is fine with me. It made sitting at those soccer games so much more pleasant. Soccer is not a sport for the weak. Those kids run for forty minutes, then rest for fifteen minutes and come right back and run again for another forty minutes. The high temperatures made some of the games tough on the kids.

I have noticed that a lot of deer seem to be moving around lately and hunting season has not yet begun. They are everywhere. You cannot go down this road without seeing some of them. They have even ventured into my lawn to eat the grass that is there. I have to check the lawn before I let the dog out, but he does not seem to be particularly bothered by them.

I do not think I could live in an area that lacked the change of seasons. While I love the beauty that is fall, I enjoy the beginning of growth that is spring. Of course, summer has its own beauty as the prolific flowering plants and shrubs show their color. Then, the winter is beautiful too as the snow-covered trees stand with branches outstretched. Sometimes we are treated to snow that sparkles as the sun hits it.

If asked my favorite season I am not sure of my answer. I think it would be whatever season it happens to be right now.

Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, PA. Contact at hickoryheights1@verizon.net.

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