Taking a page from my cats’ book, I alleviated my boredom by spending a morning exploring the woodlot next to my house.
There’s a trail through the forest that’s supposed to be maintained by the city but these days is mainly kept clear by neighbourhood teens on drug deals. It’s strewn with Pepsi cans. Their brand loyalty is impressive.
It’s also strewn with dry leaves and squirrels rustling through them. They stop and chatter in alarm as I walk past.
I stop walking as soon as I spot a bird. It’s just a robin, but robins are lovely. A small flock of them is taking advantage of the round black berries on a tree by the trail. One of them perches close to the ground and whisper-sings, sitting still and bubbling out a just-audible stream of song.
They are joined by a group of female warblers, including Canada, black-throated blue, and mourning. I can’t identify them, except for the Canada, in the moment, but I memorize their features well enough to figure them out at home. A flycatcher of some sort presents more of a problem; it’s directly above me so all I can tell is that it has a yellow belly. It will go unidentified. It happens.
Out at the edge of the forest a tangle of shrubs turns into grassland—someone’s large unmown yard. The leaves on the trees have hardly started to change colours, but here some other plants provide a fall palette. Brilliant purple New England aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae) is something I always associate with early autumn. Some other small white asters are blooming, too, but I can’t ID them to species. The sumacs are starting to turn red and orange, and some bright red rose hips add another splash of colour. And, of course, the last of the year’s goldenrod is still a faded, warm yellow.
I mention these plants by name, but there are far more that I don’t know. I’m going to have to find myself some field guides and get reacquainted with them.
On my way home I run into Palu (my cat), who goes all bottle-brushy and runs away as if he’s some sort of wildcat far from civilization. Ungrateful beast.