The week or two since last we blogged has included a couple of very chilly nights, including one night of "hard frost," when temps dipped deep into the twenties (F).
The chill seemed to trigger an outrageous burst of fall color lasting at least a week, followed by an outrageous burst of leaf-raking; although the occasional upward glance left us wondering just exactly whose leaves we were raking... and hinted at repeat performance with the rakes in the not-too-distant future.
Our much more frequent downward glances yielded a more pleasant surprise - a post-frost encore by one of our smallish "cold-blooded" neighbors.
Little brown snake is a frequent visitor in the woods and garden throughout the spring and summer months, but rarely does it grace us with a visit this late in the year.
Afternoon temperatures flirting with seventy seem to have lured it forth for a bit of basking and hunting before it burrows deep beneath the leaves for the winter.
The west-facing trunk of the maple and the leaf-covered mulchy expanse at its feet appear to offer ample opportunities for both in what has turned out to be a perfectly pleasant afternoon for our little legless brown reptile.
Perhaps an insect lurking in shadowy recesses of loose bark will be as surprised to encounter this slithering autumn traveler as were we...
Then, as if drawn relentlessly southward by the setting sun, our intrepid ectotherm makes its way to the ground, where it will most likely pursue some familiar subterranean passage known only to it and its kin before the chill of night sets in...
Past the tiny green and crimson maple seedling and beyond the scarlet leaf of the oak, it travels with steadfast purpose, seeking something only guessed at by we warm-bloods.
Leaning on our rakes, rapt with curiosity, we watch it finally vanish into the shade of oak's cast-off summer raiment, perhaps for a moment, perhaps for good;
while in the east, November moon hints it's not quite time for bed.