More to explore as season starts to change


More to explore as season starts to change

September is here. Summer is slowly ripening into autumn and the bounty of the harvest is ready for picking. The seasonal cycle whispers in our ears the softer yet persistent sounds of nature. The singing birds are quiet now, their chorus replaced by the staccato rhythm section of the insect world.

The birds are still here but the migrators are gathering together in flocks, foraging and gorging on berries and insects to fuel the long journey ahead. Suddenly, as if orchestrated eons ago, they lift off to winter grounds. Our year-round “winter” birds are busy too, taking advantage of nature’s full pantry to help see them through the cold months ahead.

Crickets and katydids are taking up the raucous realm of birds and are busy attracting a mate and jostling for territory. Like the birds’ opening act, though less melodious, their song is a soothing quieter tempo — the perfect coda to the summer season of life and growth.

At only a half to three-quarters of an inch long, the snowy tree cricket is smaller than the black field cricket that we usually see in fields or occasionally exploring our house. With translucent wings and leafy green color, the snowy tree cricket is perfectly camouflaged in its tree-canopy habitat. Snowy tree crickets can help you determine the ambient temperature. They chirp faster when it is hot and slower when it is cool. If you count the number of chirps they make in 14 seconds and then add 40, you’ll get a good reading on the temperature.

Our early fall wildflowers are blooming in field and yard, tempting bees and butterflies. Our back pasture is dotted in dainty white asters with bright yellow splashes of goldenrod. At the edge of the yard is yellow black-eyed Susan, purple coneflower and milkweed that is forming long, pointed seed pods.

When the milkweed seed pods crack open, exposing downy white seed beards, I’ll carefully pull them from the drying husk and let the autumn breeze lift them aloft. With just the right amount of wind and fully dry beards, they take flight like winged angels carrying seeds for a new patch of milkweed.

This is the time of year when my forest rambles might reveal the ghostly white Indian pipe with its nodding bell-shaped flower. Usually the flower is pointing to the ground, but if found looking to the sky I’ll know it has been pollinated.

Nature tells us the season is changing, as do our daily activities and calendar of family and community events. School buses suddenly appear on our town roads, stopping at countless driveways and roadsides to pick up and drop off their precious cargo. If you’re a commuter, please be patient when behind a school bus and remember that slow-moving vehicle carries our future.

September in The Last Green Valley provides many opportunities for you to get out and enjoy our local community events, fairs and festivals. Besides this weekend’s Woodstock Fair, the month includes many events for you to experience.

Here is a list of where TLGV volunteer rangers will be on hand with our information booth. It’s the perfect opportunity to pick up our free Explore Guide and 2018 Walktober Brochure.

First Friday, downtown Putnam, Friday

Killingly Great Tomato Festival, Danielson, Saturday

Willimantic 3rd Thursday Street Festival, Sept. 20

Celebrating Agriculture, Woodstock Fairgrounds, Sept. 22

Positively Pomfret, Recreation Park in Pomfret, Sept. 22

Connecticut DEEP Outdoor CT Day, Session Woods, Franklin, Sept. 22

Coventry Farmers Market, Hale Homestead, Sept. 23

Willimantic River Festival, Willimantic, Sept. 29

Brooklyn Fall Festival and Israel Putnam 300th Birthday Celebration, Sept. 29

Franklin 300 Anniversary Celebration, Franklin, Sept. 29

Norwich History Day, Norwichtown Green, Sept. 30

When we think of Walktober we think of October – thus the name. However, the event really begins in late September, goes “full throttle” through October and then meanders a bit into November.

There are several Walktober walks and events scheduled the weekends of Sept. 22 and 29, so if you’re looking to plan now, visit The Last Green Valley website at to find a downloadable copy of the 2018 Walktober Brochure.

We live in a beautiful place called The Last Green Valley. Our region is the emerald green island of Southern New England. Still 77 percent forests and fields, it is a precious place to live and work.

Living in New England we experience each of the four seasons and witness the slow progression of time with each approaching month. Summer is on the wane and with autumn will come the wonder of nature revealed in colorful fall foliage.

I hope to see you this month at one of the many community events here in the National Heritage Corridor. Stop by to say hello, and join us as we care for, enjoy, and pass on this place we call home.

Bill Reid is the 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


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