One must be careful walking across the street, operating vehicles, entering a large crowd … yet we take those and other activities for granted. This is often true when appreciating beauty in nature.

Consider wasps and poison ivy, pleasant to view at a distance, not so up close. Another example comes to mind. In mid-May, a very good friend bestowed a 12-inch-tall leafy green plant upon us. It grew, flourished, prospered, reaching a height of five feet in two months.

We discovered that originally the beauty and its kind came from the tropics, especially Brazil. We were stunned when it began to flower, with beautiful eight-inch yellow vertical blossoms hanging like golden bells from within the folds of green foliage. Its appearance gives its name, Angel’s Trumpet. Such beauty!

Sweet beguiling aromas emanated from the bells, borne on the wind, especially of an evening. Then we read the directions for bringing the beauty in for the winter months. Yoicks! Each article describing the plant states “All parts are toxic to humans, dogs and cats; leaves flowers, stem, root, seeds — poisonous," says Wikipedia.

Wow! What were we in for? By mid-September and from that point on, a continuous flood of golden hues enriched our spirits. As of Oct. 12 , 14 beauties sound their colorful trumpets in the wind, with more to come, until frost nips the special plant. Do we reduce its stature, (wearing gloves of course) or allow the vegetation to succumb? Huge decision.

In spite of warm glorious colorful autumn days, frost shall soon intrude. Best whisper the word to monarch butterflies passing through each day, pausing to tease zinnias and settling upon Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia) with their orange flowers.

Sunday, Oct. 10 — almost mid-October? No way! Yet, photos beg to differ. Dark-eyed juncos will point the orange and black clad insects southward. Juncos on Oct. 10? Otherwise termed “snowbirds?” Yes! Rumor had it that the birds arrived in the Mankato area a fortnight ago.

Again, Oct. 11 confirmed that they were/are in the Henderson/Le Sueur area. When they first arrive, they are the wiliest of birds, humbly seeking refuge in dense bushes, but their presence Sunday was confirmed near gravel roadsides … prominent white outer tails against a background of black costumes darting off the road into nearby copse.

When leaves have fallen and the first snowfall entertains children, the feathered charcoal creatures will reveal themselves under bird feeders. White-throated sparrows accompanied the juncos, giving observers the same ‘silent treatment.’ The night skies must surely quake as zillions of other winged passersby skitter off to warmer climes. Sept. 25 found but two chimney swifts spending the night in our ‘pet’ chimney, thus we desisted our efforts. A high count for the summer was 1,125 charcoal buddies dropping in for a night’s rest Sept. 4.

Currently, one might look forward to small flocks of sandhill cranes passing overhead, yodeling as they go; white pelicans gracing Le Sueur/Nicollet County lakes; ribbons of multi-blackbird species taking their time lunching on the way southward. A great treat is yet to come … flocks of Tundra swans heading for the Mississippi bays near Wabasha, thence on to the east coast and winter hangouts. (Our local Trumpeter Swan numbers at the Coachlight Ponds are three — a single cygnet remains of eight originals, along with the parents, Sylvia and Sylvan.) This is the season with so much to see, hear and absorb. One could spend day and night out of doors.

Enjoy each day while one may.

Art and Barb Straub are local naturalists, spending time observing and recording wildlife in the area. The couple lives together in Le Sueur. Questions? Call 507-665-2658.

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