I have just spent a week in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. The foliage was just starting to turn into a wonderful koliascope of colors. Unseasonably warm then while there, we are now getting back to the usual temperatures of October. The gardens are wilting down, the skins on the tomatoes are thicker, canning and freezing are in full operation. Corn stalks are turning brown in the fields, and as the leaves die back, acres of bright orange pumpkins are evident against the backdrop of browning leaves. Sumacs along the edge of the swamps are bright red and are probably the earliest of the changing season.\n\nThe tree leaves, although still changing color here, are starting to drop. They go in stages. Most noticeable are the maples as they seem to go overnight. The oaks, that are most abundant in this area, go more slowly. Many do not lose all of their leaves over the fall but wait for spring and new growth. All I really know is that by Thanksgiving I will be knee deep in leaves and thanking God for leaf blowers.\n\nRight now the houses on the street are slowly starting to sport scarecrows, orange lights, pumpkins, and corn stalks. Soon the neighborhood children will be buying and making costumes for trick-or-treating. I'm stocking up on candy bars as there will be about one hundred little ones knocking at my door. Some not so little ones, too. I chuckle at the less than one-year-olds that come in their parents' arms, knowing full well that these babe-in-arms will get none of the bounties.\n\nIt is a wonderful time of year. With a chill in the air, it is a great time for walking and hiking. Despite a year with a heavy infestation of gypsy moths, the oak trees have put out an abundance of acorns. That means that with this bounty the squirrels will have been just as busy reproducing large litters. That may mean a problem for next year. If the season does not provide for the newcomers, then the population of squirrels will dwindle again. They come and go from year to year.\n\nIt's the time of year that I start looking towards my own Halloween decorating. I don't do a lot, but do enjoy carving pumpkins. Choosing from a collection of patterns that were collected over the years, I pick them based on available time and the effort required to do the work. There is a ghost that hangs from a tree to welcome the kids with a cackle. Using white paper bags and black silhouettes, luminaria lines the walk up to the front door. The advent of flickering battery operated lights take away the danger of flames in the pumpkins and luminaria. Other smaller lights and decorations are brought out of storage. The costume for the dog involves a bandana and motorcycle hat. My own costume comes from a collection in that same storage area and varies from year to year. With a motorcycle dog, then a motorcycle Mama may end up being the choice.\n\nNot a big fan of roasted pumpkin seeds, when the guts are pulled from the pumpkins, I put the collection in a large shallow roasting pan. This pan is placed on a storage box on the deck just outside of the living room window. From my recliner, I am privy to a private show of the squirrels coming up to feed on them. It keeps them out of the bird feeders. The biggest male always stakes his claim on the pan of seeds, chasing away all others. Somehow that just doesn't seem fair.\n\nSo, this is the time of pushing back, ramping up the exercise, cleaning up, celebrating, and taking care of the birds and beasts. Something for everyone. Happy Autumn.