This is the first of a monthly series on what’s happening in the natural world. Some of these things are local to my Place (Whatcom County, Washington) and others are common to most of the Northern Hemisphere. (I apologize to my Australian and Brazilian friends for the Northern-hemisphere-centric tone of this post, but I know my own Place better than any other. As you do!)
October is the month of Flaming Leaves. Which trees turn color first in your neighborhood? (In mine, it appears to be the Maples – the native Big Leaf and Vine Maples, and the more exotic varieties as well.)
When does the First Frost, First Snow or First Rainfall happen in your area? (First Frost has not happened for us here yet.)
When you walk in the woods, if you do, be aware that it’s mating season for deer as you hunt for mushrooms. I love to look for odd-looking mushrooms, although I’ve never enjoyed eating them (I know, I know, I’m strange that way). But others I know are out hunting for chanterelles . . . what mushrooms are you finding in the woods or parks near your home?
Squirrels and chipmunks are actively gathering and storing food.
Berries are maturing: here they are madrona, holly, Oregon grape, kinnickinnick, snowberry, and wild rose hips.
Goldenrod, asters and chrysanthemums are in bloom, even as our gardens are filling up with maple leaves. Good for mulch!
Shorebirds and Canada geese begin their fall migration.
The numbers of bald eagles are swelling as migrants arrive from the north and others return to the lowlands from river salmon runs.
What’s happening with Mama Gaia where you live?
In the starry skies above . . .
We will continue to see Jupiter in October, who’s been putting on a dazzling show for us this summer. Right now he is rising in the east just as the sun is setting in the west. By Halloween, Jupiter will be about 20% higher in the eastern sky at sunset. I plan on looking for Jupiter every clear night we have. Polaris, the North Star, is hanging low right now, flanked by the Big Dipper in the northwestern sky and Cassopeia’s throne in the northeast.
Later this month, the Pleiades will rise in the east, a sure herald of winter. Part of the constellation Taurus, the “Seven Sisters” have been beloved for millennia. In Greek, their name means “flock of doves,” which connects them to Aphrodite. In the Middle East they were the Seven Pillars of Wisdom, in India divinities of Fire, and in Egypt they were revered as the Seven Hathors, whom the dead would meet on their journey to the Otherworld. Gaze out at the Pleiades on a clear October night and meditate on the meaning they hold for you.
What constellations, stars or planets draw your attention the most during clear October nights?