This afternoon, after the nail-bitingly wonderful ball game last night, I wasn't quite ready to sit in the school parking lot and listen to the beginning of the Twins/Yankees playoff game. It was sunny and in the fifties and not raining, as it has so often lately, and part of me was missing engaging in any form of exercise for the last couple of weeks. So I drove to a trail I had been to once before, last spring or maybe even before that. It's a snowmobile trail on state park land that is not heavily advertised or used when there is no snow. It winds downhill, across a couple dry ravines leading to the Kettle River, then uphill again. Off the beaten trail I had heard there was a creek that cut through some rock outcrops, but the last time I was there I did not know where to get off the trail. I'm a sucker for water and rock outcrops, so I was determined to find the creek this time.
I had half an hour to wander, so I quickly covered the half mile or so of marked trail. The tree canopy, mostly aspen and birch with some maple, was a brilliant, other-worldly shade of gold. I saw a scattered pile of feathers that looked like they once belonged to a goshawk or Cooper's hawk. I saw a large mushroom being consumed by a slug.
When I got to where I had to leave the beaten trail, I briefly considered the wisdom of what I was about to do. There was a chance I could get lost in the woods. However, the sun was out, I could hear the freeway from where I was, so I had a pretty good sense of direction. That, and the slope of the river valley was a good landmark.
I wandered downhill through some light undergrowth, and soon I found the stream and some sandstone outcrops. Unfortunately, I checked my iPod clock and realized I had about ten minutes to get back to the car and get to the school, directly across the river from where I was, to pick up Calvin. So I reluctantly saved serious rock exploration and meditation for another day. And I found my way back to the trail easily.
I saw my first rough legged hawk of the fall on the way home. Once I was home I headed out to the garden to gather green tomatoes. It's supposed to get pretty cold tomorrow night and I hope to bring in what I can before it freezes too hard. On my way out to the garden I heard a great horned owl; I had heard one early this morning too. I had not heard one since maybe last spring.
I picked two buckets of tomatoes, but there are still plenty more out there. I also picked a box of tomatillos. Strangely enough, I had my best crop of them in several years. Even stranger, after I had brought them in, Calvin, who did not know I had been out picking them, asked me if I could make some salsa verde this year! He has developed quite a taste for salsa lately, and he told me he loves salsa verde. I should have enough for four or five pints, which I suspect will go quickly. :)
The air is crisp, the multicolored landscape beautiful, and I wish it could stay like this for about two months longer.