The subtle change that caught my attention was barely notable, but it was just enough to let me know it was time to return. It wasn’t the inner restlessness that triggers migration, however the analogy is somewhat fitting. I suppose I knew all along that the time was nearing but the mind boggling preoccupation with insects, cotton, and flooding has held a grip on me like jaws of the crocodile. Regardless, when I noticed the hint of the loss of chlorophyll in the sycamores, allowing the release of the golds and yellows, there was no doubt. Change is upon us and this means it’s time for another season of “Outdoors in the Sun.”
All summer I have been making mental notes of topics that will hopefully be of interest and will provide literary entertainment to you, our readers, over the next six months. We will visit not only our outdoor heritage with stories from afield as we have in the past, but this season we will delve deeper into other subjects as well. Subjects like our environment, climate, the glacier, and our planet as a whole. I will provide an array of questions to you through print, not looking for an answer but more though-provoking for you to ponder and wonder. Maybe in a roundabout way I am inviting you, through my articles, to pause and take notice of what is really important in life, especially regarding nature. What kind of impact are we having? In our reluctance to change, are we compromising the health of not only our flora and fauna but ourselves and future generations as well? Hold those thoughts for there is more to come.
The Yazoo backwater flooding has been horrific this year. The suffering that the white-tailed deer, the raccoon, and the wild turkey have endured is almost criminal. Insect species like the swallowtail butterfly, the honey bee, and the firefly have been so greatly compromised by the lack of plant life due to submergence that in hundreds of thousands of acres, there are none. Political chaos and stalemate has cost our fragile Mississippi Delta dearly. The “cost” I am speaking of is not in the form of the dollar either. If you take a ride through that country, take a box of tissues, for if you care about our wildlife, you’ll need them. Alas though, this is a topic in itself and we will visit this as well in detail.
Seldom do I venture into our marine and saltwater ecosystems from a writing standpoint. It’s not from a lack of interest I assure you. I’m a swamp loving, country boy at heart and I guess I tend to stay stuck in a rut, no pun intended. As dear as the hardwood bottom, the sage field, and the beaver pond is to me, I will make a concerted effort to pay tribute to the redfish, the shrimp, and the oyster as well. After all, each species, whether plant or animal, plays a vital role in the existence and harmony regarding the balance of nature.
As of lately I have been acquiring a taste to visit the wilderness of Alaska. I have left many a footprint in the lower forty-eight but have yet to venture to the tundra or the Yukon. I really think my yearning is more in the quest of the experience to absorb the vastness and beauty of what is assuredly the last frontier. I will admit, the allure of the moose, the mountain goat, and the sheep are an influence in my quest for journey, but only in part. I’m not sure if I’ll ever make this trip but it may lead to a few articles for those also interested in the trek north.
The migration of the snow goose and the mallard is soon to begin. The blue-bird skies with a steady breeze out of the north will be here before you know it as well. I long await the sting upon my cheek from those first chilly temps. I haven’t looked for my favorite Filson jacket yet, but hopefully soon.
There is some work to do physically before I can draw and hold my bow for any length of time. Kansas tags have been drawn and the rut is also on the horizon. To really put in perspective on what is approaching, have you checked your calendar? We’ll be in the dove field just a few days after you read this. Check those vests for brown recluse spiders, get the youngsters their hunter education certificates and don’t forget to renew your hunting licenses. Good times are here!
I suppose what triggers my thoughts of the season approaching more than colors changing and brisk breezes are the memories of my mother and I putting up pear preserves for the winter. For more than 30 years, together we peeled, sliced, sugared, and canned pears. Though she is no longer with us, her memories are alive in the kitchen each August as I continue the tradition. I’m sure she is looking down shaking her head knowing I didn’t add enough sugar to the succulent slices of fruit. The fall and winter mornings are a little more special as the amber delicacies are drizzled upon the hot biscuits and I reflect on the good times we had together in the kitchen. Of course dad’s memories are just as alive when I have the steaming coffee from his favorite mug. This will be the first fall without the incessant barking from Chloe demanding her tidbits of morsels from the table. I sure miss that little Yorky! Dang, it’s still rough on me. I guess Lacey will have to get an extra bite for Chloe.
I urge you to take in all the upcoming season has to offer. Make not only new memories this fall, but reflect on those past memories that are indeed so special. Teach your children and grandchildren about the hickory, the otter, and the goldenrod. Above all, teach them to respect Mother Nature and what she has to offer. As quickly as our season approaches, it will also pass. Be sure not to miss it. We’re going to have fun!
Until next time enjoy our woods and waters and remember, let’s leave it better than we found it.