Garden In Progress

Garden Through the Years

Autumn Beauty

Black and White Images

Black Bear Visit

Edisto Island, SC


Folly Beach, SC

Fripp Island, SC

Homer's Gallery

Hunting Island State Park


Pollywog Pond



Sunlit Interiors

Textured Images

Water Magic


Red Bubble

About Our Animals

Homer's Pond

In Honor of My Mother

In Memory of My Father


Nature Journal
My Writing



Homer's Vietnam Experiences

Homer's Room

Tib's Room

Fall, 2002 - Columbia, South Carolina

"I only went out for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in."

John Muir - Journal

Fall comes late to the midlands of South Carolina, coming on us suddenly in November like a breath held too long.  Summer is hard here.  The heat and humidity, mosquitoes and gnats all drive us inside to our air conditioned cocoons from June until early October.   We'll have a few days of fake Fall when Mother Nature lures us outside with cooler temperatures in the morning, but by mid-day we are slapping at mosquitoes again and cussing the heat.

However, November is magical.  Suddenly the skies are crystal clear, the light becomes golden and leaves begin to change from heavy deep green to gold.  Even though the impatiens, Texas Sage and a few marigolds are still blooming, ferns, hostas and day-lilies begin to turn brown. The katydids no longer buzz insanely and the crickets' songs grow fainter every night.  The animals in the woods now begin to court each other on a grand scale.

Beginning around mid-October, I began to hear Pileated Woodpeckers calling in our woods from high branches in dead pines.  This is fairly normal sound all year, but the pitch and tone of these calls seemed a bit frantic.  I happened to be sitting on the screened porch sipping my morning coffee (and saying thankyouthankyouthankyou to the Universe that I am now retired), when a large Pileated Woodpecker began his call very near the porch.  I grabbed our new digital video camera and stepped softly outside to see if I could capture this beautiful bird on tape.  As I aimed the camera, I was startled to see another Pileated Woodpecker join the first on the old dogwood tree outside our dining room window. 

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I have lived in these woods for 50 years and had never seen two Pileated Woodpeckers together, much less doing what appeared to be a courtship dance!  As I watched, the woodpeckers landed on either side of the tree and moved together in a kind of dance.

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As one moved to the right, the other followed until it looked as if I was watching one woodpecker on a mirror. After a few moments, they flew away, shrieking madly at each other.  What an incredible gift to witness such gorgeous birds at their finest.

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In addition to the woodpeckers, I followed a large group of screaming blue-jays into the woods to see what was disturbing them so much and came almost eye to eye with a huge Barred Owl.  On another morning, Homer and I saw two Downy Woodpeckers courting, several Cardinal couples and of course, the ever-present and wonderfully noisy Mockingbirds.  On the way back from a Sunday visit with Homer's family in Bamberg, SC, we saw a large flock of wild turkeys just standing around by the side of the road.  

November 5 was a magical, windy, strap-yourself-in-your-lawn chair kind of day.  The wind blew the leaves up and down in swoops and circles as beautiful white clouds raced overhead and light and shadows created a variety of landscapes.

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The morning had started with another unusual animal event.  At 6:30 I was awakened to Homer yelling, "Come quick and see!"  I ran outside where he and the dogs stood by the edge of our woods.  They were all looking up and at first I couldn't see what they were staring at.  When I finally focused, I couldn't believe my eyes.  Two raccoons, nose to nose, one going up a large pine tree, one coming down.  Either it was a raccoon way of playing "Chicken" or they were courting. 

We have had the pleasure of seeing one large raccoon for several years on our property, but never two and never like this.  Homer and I watched for a moment, then pulled the dogs inside and gave the two some peace and quiet.  When I stepped outside a few minutes later, they were gone.  If Homer hadn't seen it too, I would have thought it was my imagination.

All of these things have gone on for years and will (hopefully) continue.  However, for me, it is all new because I am fortunate to have the time to observe nature at a totally different level than I ever have before - from the point of stillness.  We will continue to observe and report on all the beauty and life going on as Fall brings on her glorious colors and the animals prepare for winter.

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I live my life in widening circles

that reach out across the world

I may not complete this last one

but I give myself to it.

I circle around God, around the primordial tower.

I've been circling for thousands of years

and I still don't know:  am I a falcon,

a storm, or a great song?

Rainer Maria Rilke