My area had its first snow of the season last evening – just a dusting. Cold weather came with it: not fall-crisp air, but winter’s-coming air. On with the layers, out to the trails.
Mine Falls Park’s trail along the canal sported lacy edging this morning. The trail surface was still in great shape, neither muddy nor frozen.
Mine Falls Park, Nashua NH, 11/21/16
I heard the unmistakable whacks of a pileated woodpecker’s attack on an oak tree nearby. I managed to spot the bird – so dramatic-looking! A flicker in the vicinity wasn’t impressed, though. It apparently wanted dibs on that tree, and it flew around the larger woodpecker squawking its disapproval. The pileated bird paid no attention to it.
This was a remarkable morning for birds in the park, given my short visit. The geese occupied the cove while the mallards were having a group swim in the canal. Tufted titmice swooped down and landed on the trail beside me, looking me over quizzically. A blue jay flew around showing off, perhaps afraid the woodpecker might get all my attention. A robin placidly hopped along the edge of the trail, pecking at whatever robins like to peck at, not at all disturbed by my presence.
Not a bad way to spend a morning, edging gently into winter.
I’ve found some fine little places to walk on the spur of the moment, pulling my car over into little parks and waysides. These walks aren’t long. I stop for them impulsively when I’m pressed for time, driving from point A to point B on some kind of business. Some wayside stops are too good to pass up. They help me clear my head for the next business meeting.
Runnell’s Bridge over Nashua River, Hollis NH.
There’s a little boat launch on the Nashua River just off NH 111 in Hollis. I parked here one day and took an unscheduled quick stroll on a nearby road, ending with a minute or two just enjoying the riverside. That hadn’t been on the day’s agenda, which was half the fun of stopping.
Here’s to quick stops and interrupted schedules. They can make my day.
Columbus Day weekend is wrapping up for the leaf-peepers. Autumn colors are still muted in my area, except for a few specimen trees flashing scarlet. I figured the Monadnocks would be a little showier today. I stole a couple of hours from my schedule this morning and headed to Miller State Park in time for a walk up the auto road before it opened to cars for the day. I actually spent time alone on the summit of Pack Monadnock! A rare treat, that. I thank God for days like this.
From the Pack Monadnock summit: Mt. Monadnock, about twelve miles away.
Near the base of the auto road. My guess is that the P on this marker is for Peterborough, one of three towns that can lay claim to part of Pack Monadnock.
Plenty of colorful foliage over there on North Pack Monadnock.
When I took my kids to Pack Monadnock when they were little, the first thing they wanted to check from the summit was whether it was “a Boston day,” clear enough to see Beantown’s skyline. Today was a Boston day.
Bleached by the sun’s glare: the New Boston Air Force Station’s radomes on the left, city of Manchester, New Hampshire on the right.
And here’s the Granite State Walker, offering a chocolate-milk toast to the physical therapist who helped me get my knee back into shape this year.
Goffstown, New Hampshire. The “W” is a mystery to me. Ellen Kolb photo.
This has been a summer of drought in southern New Hampshire. The heat seems exaggerated. Even the weeds are beginning to show signs of stress. Today, though, a few yellow beech leaves drifted down in front of me as I walked on the Goffstown rail trail – reminding me that summer’s end is in sight.
Will the fall foliage be affected by the drought? I don’t know. Even if the usual brilliance is dimmed, fall will be my favorite season with its crisp air. Today’s hint – those few leaves lazily dropping along my way – was enough to make me realize that my favorite time of year is almost here.
Daylight Savings Time is over, cutting into my late-day trail time. All I ask is just enough daylight to enjoy a leaf-covered trail without twisting my ankle.
So far, so good. I’m sharing Horse Hill with lots of neighbors who are trying to fit some outdoor time between work and dinner, including a fair number of mountain bikers. The preserve is large enough that I don’t feel at all crowded, even when the parking lot’s full.
Parking lot: full. Trail: all clear. Horse Hill Nature Preserve, New Hampshire.
My favorite tree along the way. It’s survived some rough weather in recent years.
It’s been a dry autumn. I barely needed the bridge to cross this little stream.
November’s here in southern New Hampshire, and foliage season goes on. Scarlet’s gone, but gold and bronze persist. Autumns like this make winters like the last one worth enduring. The trees in my yard are one stiff windstorm away from being stripped, but for now the leaves are dropping lazily.
Already, New Hampshire State Parks has announced its slate of First Day hikes for January 1, 2016. Silver Lake in Hollis has been added to the usual venues: Monadnock, Weeks (please, someone up north go enjoy that one for me!), and Wentworth-Coolidge Mansion Historic Site. I like my New Year’s Day options: a First Day hike, the Peanut Chip Chase 5k in Temple, or something else that might occur to me the day before.
But that’s two whole months away. For now, autumn.