I find the extraordinary in the ordinary.

Fall, summer and winter showed up in November and fought it out. The air became crisper, the nights cozier and the socks woolier. The view out a window can be exquisite and some would argue there were days when the weather was best enjoyed that way. Especially when the wind with its cold teeth threatened to peel back the day.

A gray catbird was in my yard on Nov. 7. That’s late for that bird species to be here. It was joined by immature Harris’s sparrows, eastern bluebirds and drab-colored goldfinches galore. The cedar waxwing is a stylish bird, which means I have nothing in my closet it’d ever be caught wearing. A flock of waxwings fed on berries. 

Buckthorn has many branches and thorns. It keeps its leaves longer and greens up earlier than most deciduous trees. It sprouts profusely. I saw a great blue heron (Big Cranky, Long John or Poor Joe) standing as still as a statue along the Le Sueur River. 

A woolly bear caterpillar moved across the walk. These caterpillars shed their skins several times and their colors change before fall. The caterpillar’s coat helps it survive winter. The woolly worm was searching for a place to curl up and hibernate until building a cocoon in the spring. The length of the bands is based on the caterpillar’s age, with nutrition, genetics, habitat and species being other possible determinants.

It resembled a big mosquito but doesn’t bite humans. It was a crane fly with a 1.5-inch long body and a 3-inch wingspread. In colloquial speech, crane flies are sometimes called mosquito hawks or daddy longlegs. 

Al Batt is a syndicated columnist.


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