November 3, 2013.
With the return to standard time, Hunter had an extra hour to spend, and invited me to share.
Beach sounded nice, but three hours in the car (each way), not so nice.
Nearby nature hike instead.
White Pines Natural Area got the nod.
In hindsight, good choice...
Maple always greets November with flying colors, no surprises there.
Deep in the dappled shade of the majestic white pines, however, surprises abound.
Alone and apparently okay with it, Hermit thrush eyes Hunter's lens with alacrity.
Hunter pauses in the shadows of the riparian giants to consider the confluence of two proud rivers, now joined in their journey to Cape Fear.
In the damp of the floodplain's undergrowth, lungless red-backed salamander breathes through its miraculous skin, lying low to conserve precious energy as winter draws nigh.
Pale tussock moth traverses a frost-bitten fern. Close cousin to the woolly worm, this tiger moth larvae most likely spent its extra hour dining on the deciduous leaves of this hardwood bottomland forest.
Nearby, the green of summer jumps out from the dark grays and browns of the loblolly bark.
So much for camouflage.
Luckily it's too cold for the reptiles to be out and about...
A hundred sun-drenched niches and brightly lit holes, and in each, there lurks a Carolina anole. Gone, for them, like the trees, June's cloak of green, don they now the brown and gray - bare bark of fall.
Now Hunter, armed with an extra hour, hunts the scaly-skinned hunters, cloaked in brown and motionless, drugged by the penetrating warmth of the sun.
On the trees, and underfoot, for the keen-eyed Hunter, no corner of the forest escapes his lens.
Detail below from just to the left of Hunter's shadow in the scene above.
Look for the yellow leaf above and to the left of his elbow.
Keen-eyed hunter sees you too...
At shadow's edge, where focus falters, twins seek refuge...
But for the ectotherm, autumn sun is an irresistible lure.
For these diminutive masters of disguise, the tiniest sprig of lichen serves as shield and curtain.
Hunter's hour well spent, dozens of anoles bowing before his lens, most aware of his gaze, a few none the wiser...
Months will pass before the clock springs forward again, and many more adventures will befall our hunters in the meantime.
Perhaps then we'll venture back to this majestic wood and seek company once again with the lizard tribe.
What tales might they tell us then, of wintertime, and spring, of successful hunts and near misses, of missing kin and narrow escapes.
Who knows; they might even break out their green again!