Exploring The Last Green Valley: Walktober nears as Autumnal Equinox does
Welcome to the last week of summer. Sorry, but someone had to break it to you. The Autumnal Equinox in our Northern Hemisphere is Sept. 23 at exactly 3:50 a.m. in Eastern Connecticut. On that day, the sunrise and sunset are 12 hours apart. The start of our autumn season is the start of the spring season in the Southern Hemisphere.
The position of the sun and length of daylight hours stimulates the changes of the season. In wetlands, stream banks and swamps, I have already seen our red maples beginning to change from deep green to brilliant red. The fall foliage season is nigh, and over the next several weeks the hillsides will change from greens to the multi-colors of autumn, then to deep copper browns and finally the bare trees of winter.
This month I’ll keep the hummingbird feeder filled for the northern migrants looking for refreshment as they head to southern climates. My guess is our local hummers have already begun their exit strategies. They seek nectar from blooms and such blossoms will be in shorter supply as we move through the month and to the first frosts of the season. I’ll be on the lookout for the cedar waxwings and other fall berry-eating wayfarers moving south. By month’s end I’ll give the feeders a good cleaning and fill them with thistle and sunflower seed. Our year-round resident birds will enjoy the offerings as the cold of winter slides in.
Our resident chipmunks have been in a frenzy filling their burrows with nuts and seeds. A full larder will guarantee survival during the long cold months ahead. Woodchucks and black bears are busy eating to bring on that extra layer of fat, which will see them through the slow stupor of hibernation. Soon, the white tail deer rut (breeding) season will begin, followed by the loud reports of shotguns and rifles echoing through the woods.
The turn of the seasons is more pronounced and means more for us New Englanders than it does for those living in southern regions. Each of our four seasons is special and is what makes New England a great place to live. We mark the fall with anticipation of morning frosted car windshields, stacking cordwood and the first fire in the stove and fireplace. Woolen hats and gloves are pulled from drawers where they were stored back in April. Rakes are dragged from the back of tool sheds for the annual chore of removing scattered dry leaves from our many oak, maple, hickory, birch and ash trees. I am an avid skier and always anticipate the first snowstorm of the season. Soon I’ll be checking the forecast up in the ski country of Vermont and New Hampshire.
Here in The Last Green Valley the fall season also means the start of TLGV’s annual Walktober program. This year we have more than 200 hikes, bikes, paddles, tours, talks and more, all starting Saturday and running through Nov. 3.
I’ll be leading an Acorn Adventure program and hike for kids Saturday at West Thompson Dam in Thompson, and on Sept. 23 an Autumnal Equinox, eight-mile hike at Bigelow Hollow State Park in Union. My colleague, Lois Bruinooge, and I will also be leading a paddle Oct. 6 on the Quinebaug River from Holland to East Brimfield, Mass. These are just a few of more than 200 opportunities to get out and enjoy the beauty of our region during the glorious fall season.
The Walktober brochures arrived in late August and we have been busy getting them out to town halls, libraries and other information kiosk locations throughout the 35 towns within The Last Green Valley National Heritage Corridor.
You can download a copy of the calendar from the TLGV website at thelastgreenvalley.org/explore-the-last-green-valley/walktober/
Or, you can call the TLGV office at (860) 774-3300 and we’ll mail one to you.
Fall is almost here. There is a new crispness to the air and the changes of the season are visible each day. We hope you’ll join us for Walktober and take in the splendor of living in such a beautiful place. Look to this column in the weeks ahead as I highlight several walks and experiences for you to enjoy with friends and family. The Last Green Valley – together we can enjoy it, care for it and pass it on.
Bill Reid is chief ranger of The Last Green Valley National Heritage Corridor and has lived in the region for more than 35 years. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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