Sunday, October 19, 2008

Mom and Dad came for the weekend, after closing up the cottage in the Poconos for the winter.

I hiked with Dad down through the back woods -- out over the railroad tracks and down to the river.  He's become obsessed with native grass prairies and so we lingered in the glades and clearings.  He'd stroke the fall-brittle stems and rattle off the names: little bluestem, sweet fern, switchgrass, deer tongue,  sweet everlasting, false indigo.  He was struck by how few invasives there were.  These are like the prairies that he works to establish down in Pennsylvania.  The seeds of the deer tongue were nutty, like little sesame seeds.  

We tasted apples from three trees near where the Green family cemetery sits.  The first tree was drooping with smallish apples that were delicious; the second tree's apples had a bitter skin but sour-sweet flesh; and the third and largest was heavy with large green apples, astringent and inedible.  Maybe I'll try them again after the frost.

We found a freshly dead white-footed mouse upon the trail under the pitch pines.  It had no head, like a little macabre Halloween decoration.  Dad said that it's a telltale for great horned owls.  When they're not hungry, they'll kill prey and eat only the brains.  Only five minutes before we had startled an owl from a perch and it had flown off above a bog.  Probably it was the same gourmand.