Here are seven splendid things to enjoy outside during the latter half of October:
O – Obviously, the foliage! Peak hits our area around the first and second week of the month so it has just passed but there is still plenty of color to notice. Take a moment to pause and appreciate the foliage found around the library next time you visit. As leaves start to fall, take notice of which trees hold on to their leaves (this is called marcescence).
Although leaves of deciduous trees tend to steal the show, grasses are worth noticing. Many change colors as well, from shades of rich copper to dark red and even purple.
C – Creature watching: Squirrels and chipmunks are beginning to stock up on food (and can be quite entertaining to watch!); skunks and racoons are searching for shelters; beavers are repairing and building up their lodges. If you catch a glimpse of any of these creatures, pause for a few moments and watch their activities. You may learn something new about these common critters.
T – Trail walking. We are fortunate enough to have quite a few trails nearby (a short one right behind the library) and fall is a fabulous time to take advantage. The days are cool, birds are still singing, leaves rustle overhead and crunch under foot and the scent in the air has shifted – it’s a full sensory experience!
O – Observing the full moon. This month are we are treated to two! The October 1st full moon is called the Harvest Moon, the second (a Blue Moon), is called the Full Hunter’s Moon. The Old Farmer’s Almanac states that “Some folks believe that this full Moon was called the Full Hunter’s Moon because it signaled the time to go hunting in preparation for winter. Since the harvesters had recently reaped the fields under the Harvest Moon, hunters could easily see the fattened deer and other animals that had come out to glean (and the foxes and wolves that had come out to prey on them).”
B – Bird watching. Birds are still migrating so you may catch a glimpse of a lesser seen species or two. There are also birds you’ll see in some seasons but not others. For example, while some American Robins stay, many migrate. You may notice that they have gone from your yard but can be found in other spots close by (like here at the library). Juncos and Carolina Wrens tend to be birds spotted in backyards during the fall and winter in our area but not typically throughout the summer. Are you noticing a change of feathered friends you see or a change in their behavior?
E – Embracing clear nights. It’s getting darker earlier and it’s not too cold to hang outside for a bit in the evenings to star gaze. Did you know that this month and next, Mars is at its closest point to Earth and at its brightest? NASA explains here. It’s also a great month to look for the galaxy of Andromeda – a spiral galaxy similar in appearance to our own Milky Way. Whatever you see, the night sky is a wondrous thing.
R – Reaping the harvest. It is possible to garden year round in Maine but this is typically the time to enjoy final big harvests of fresh produce. Whether you garden yourself or take advantage of local farm offerings, there is much to enjoy this time of year.
Until next time, be well, stay curious and get outside to notice nature!