I decided to write this on the first day of FALL.

Sitting outside typing at my picnic table with my noble and elderly cat sitting by my side, who appreciates my affection by rubbing on my hands, makes writing this more challenging, but Hemmingway-like.

Hasn’t the weather been just delightful: cool in the morning, warm in the afternoon. I am signing up for days like these until Dec. 20, then invite the Christmas coldness.

Traveling through the county the fallish colors are becoming more apparent. The soybeans are taking on a tan and beige color. I also noticed some beans that were still mostly green with dots of yellow. This morning as I was driving to work my eyes met a field of golden yellow soybeans as the sun was appearing.

The corn stalks are browning and mixed with a jade green in some fields. The flowers remaining in the grasslands and pastures are brilliant yellow sunflowers. I believe them to be such an eye-catching presence wherever you may wander. Brightening the view and also the heart and soul. Looking at a sunflower immediately brings on a smile.

Helen Keller once said, “Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow. It is what sunflowers do.”

Oh… the clover is back again. Those little white dots in your yard are specks of hope and happiness, I feel. Clover, dandelions and some bees hanging out together. A wonder to see this time of year.


The sunsets have been eye-popping and exhilarating! Because of the fires in the western United States, our western and eastern sky has taken advantage of the haze to create almost neon-like sunsets and sunrises.

Smoke from the fires has traveled across the entire United States, over the Atlantic Ocean, into Britain and other northern European countries.

I am mortified by those fires and the utter damage they have caused. The shear immensity of the blazing infernos has just sickened me. A human losing every single thing in their home to devouring flames is horrific.

I also think of the wildlife. Losing their homes and food sources is also appalling and cruel. Many of the small animals try to find nooks and crannies inside trees or under rocks. Finding food is a lousy prospect. Predators have easy pickings when they scurry out of hiding and across the burned terrain.

An endangered species may lose all hope of survival in a serious fire like those out west. Luckily, there are some species that will return quickly after a fire. According to the National Forest Foundation a “fire regime” ecosystem needs a fire to bring new life to an area... serontinous cones that are “glued” shut until a fire melts the resin that holds the seed in place. A fire allows the seed to pop out to produce new growth. The wind helps the seeds to fly and find a new home to begin a new forest.

Fly little seeds! Fly far and begin your new quest!


I met John and Janet Rhea of Paola the other day who shared a snake picture he had taken. It was a harmless black snake. (His wife did not want to see the picture!) He reported the snake was about as long as he was tall… which I estimated was 5’10.” John saw it at the base of a tree and watched as it continued its way straight up the tree, slithering up the crooks and turning in the tree bark.


I will end this column telling you about something I did recently to learn a new bird call.

I have an app on my phone that records a bird’s song or call, and it determines what bird you hear. At this point you need to picture this in your mind. It was 6 a.m. as I took out my dogs, clothed in my Cookie Monster pajama pants and T-shirt, when I heard a strange bird. It sounded almost owl-like in manner. I had never used the app before so I gave it a whirl.

As I was waiting for the phone to start, my cats began meowing (they were hungry), my dog started barking and the cars and trucks were flying by with great fury... all with extra noise.

To try to get closer to the bird and farther from the two cats, I walked to the middle of my yard ...the middle, out in the open with Cookie Monster pants and an app waiting. Here comes a truck...two cars. The app says incomplete detection.

How many birds sound like cars and trucks and cats? Then a cardinal starts its song and on a branch directly over my head.

The app says “North American Cardinal.” UHHHHHHH! I knew that!

Nature is a mystery. The bird remains a secret.

I did feed the cats.

Beth Conner is a retired teacher, Miami County resident and outdoor enthusiast. She can be reached at bethconner2019@gmail.com.

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