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Date:8/22/2014 4:50:08 AM
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Another Late Autumn, (Part I)
It's the last day of November. I consider this the last day of Autumn, though oft-times there's snow on the ground by this time. I've grown to love this time of year as well. The bare brown earth shines with its own dull gleaming, free of foliage. The wan sunshine of the November afternoon reveals a land awaiting sleep under the snows of Winter. Ice is beginning to form along the edges of ponds and lakes. The photo I've posted is another excellent one taken by my Ruthie of the Stiles Flowage just a half mile away. The last migratory birds gather together in the face of the coming cold. Last week I heard the call of the Sandhill Cranes as they flocked in order to begin their journey South. They, I think, are the last of the true migratory birds to leave. The robins, still present, will stay until there are no insect carcasses to feed upon, and go as far South as they need to in order to find bare ground. At the present time, many Canada geese "winter" here, where before they would "summer" here. The presence of a permanent population of geese indicates that the shores of the Bay and the mouth of the Fox River in Green Bay has become an "overlap" area of migration. Almost every day I will see skeins flying to the cornfields north of the city and every lake and large pond around here (including the Flowage) will have a flock or gaggle of geese settling down come nightfall.

In the many years that I've delivered mail in Green Bay I've noticed that a large population of ducks winter in the city as well. There are many little streams and creeks that still flow unimpeded through the city: Duck Creek, Dutchman's Creek, Beaver Creek, the East River, Baird's Creek, and some others that have no name. Every clear evening during the late Autumn and throughout the Winter I will see a flock of small ducks hurtle skyward right after sunset and make a long circuit outward and then back to their nightly roosting site along Beaver Creek behind some apartment buildings. My guess is that they do this in order to increase their heart rates and body temps before settling down for the cold night. Now anyone with a soul has wondered what it would be like to fly. I've always imagined how joyous it would be to ascend quickly over the tree tops and then glide over a warm, green meadow. It is only now that I've gotten older that I started to consider just how much work it must be to physically thwart gravity. Hal Borland agrees: "Flight requires more energy than the most strenuous of normal human activity. . . . If I had to eat as much as a bird eats I should consume fifty to eighty pounds of bread, meat and vegetables every day....to convert all this food into energy, all birds have very high rate of metabolism." (Please scroll up for Part II)
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