Found Friday #12: The Last of the Fall Colors

I’m not quite sure when it happened, but it’s looking sort of wintry outside.

It’s still not too cold, but the branches are pretty empty, and there are only a few pops of fall color left.

Our honey locust had a rough summer, but it’s putting on quite a show right now.

The reds and golds have been particularly bright this year.

I’ve always loved every season, and usually, by the time one comes to an end, I’m ready for the next. I’m looking forward to the cold, and maybe, hopefully, the snow. But for now, I’ll enjoy these last days of autumn.

Found Friday #4: Pretty Mantis

I’ll start this one with a story.

When I was in third grade, my class had two pets – a cute, chubby red and white guinea pig, and two bright green praying mantises that I thought looked a lot like aliens. At the end of every week, two students were chosen, by popular vote of the class, to take the pets home and care for them until Monday. I desperately wanted to bring the guinea pig home for the weekend. But when my name finally came up and the class voted, I got…the praying mantises.

So there I was at the end of Friday, trundling down the steps off the school bus, saddled with my backpack, my spring windbreaker, the books that wouldn’t fit in my backpack, my lunch box, and a wire cage containing two potentially extraterrestrial life forms that I had absolutely no idea what to do with. When I opened the door and plopped the cage down on the kitchen table, my mother was predictably less than pleased.

“What is THAT?”

“Praying mantises.”

“Why do you have those?”

I explained what happened, and she told me I shouldn’t volunteer to take the class pets home ever again. Honestly, I don’t blame her.

Fast forward about thirty years, give or take, and my garden is positively brimming with brown praying mantises right now. It might be karma. But they’re actually kind of interesting to watch, so I’m not complaining.

We’ve been seeing them mostly on our windows at night, seeking out moths to snack on. Earlier this week, though, my husband looked out the window of his study and found this little guy hanging out in our euonymus.

He’s sort of cute, actually. And very photogenic.

And possibly has aspirations to conduct an orchestra?

Live your dream, buddy.

I don’t want him inside my house, would not even consider keeping him as a pet, but as an occasional visitor who keeps to himself, he’s perfectly welcome.

Found Friday #3: The Fantastic Family Fox

Aren’t they adorable?

We get all sorts of critters and beasties on our property. We’ve got a family of deer who come through in the evenings, a groundhog who loves our still-growing orchard, opossums, butterflies, cardinals and other little native birds, and the occasional black bear. And there are two spoiled animals who live *inside* the house with us.

These two really enjoy their creature comforts, and the consistent access to snuggles, soft places to sleep, and snacks.

We’re constantly looking out our back window to see who might be visiting, and back in the spring we were delighted to learn that a family of foxes – mom, dad, and kits – had made a den under our barn. They normally popped out around sunset for playtime and dinner, and we tried to snap some pictures without scaring them.

We found them to be lovely neighbors. They were very adept at controlling the field mouse population, and so fun to watch (from a distance, of course).

The kits have grown up now and I think they’ve moved on, but we still see a fox or two out back under the willow tree from time to time. I’d like to think they feel as happy and at home here as I do.