We were out for a walk in La Riviere Park when Riley flushed a deer out of a thicket. While I watched the large doe as it bound up an adjacent hillside, Riley was content to follow it with his nose. He found every bit of excitement out of that fresh-from-the-oven trail as you or I would out of the sight of a white tail bouncing through the woods.
As the fall days grow shorter and the light wanes, it’s good to follow your nose. The smell of fall rivals the colors. Stirred with your feet, the odor of spent leaves rises like vapors from a fine stew. The odor marks this season as surely as cut grass pegs summer. It stirs memories as well.
I remember hunting with my father in the fall, the chill of early mornings warmed by the sight of a stalking buck. I remember jumping like paratroopers with my childhood friends into freshly piled leaves. I remember hunting for the biggest pumpkin with my children and dressing them in outlandish costumes for Halloween.
For those with a nose for discovery, Driftless Wisconsin will lead you there. Dr. James Lattis, Director of UW Space Place, will lead observes on a tour of constellations, star clusters, nebulae, and galaxies at Observing the Dark Sky, at the Kickapoo Reserve near La Farge on November 2.
On November 9, Dan Jackson, president of the Coulee Region Audubon Society, will help birders identify the many water fowl along the Mississippi Flyway at Fall Migration Day in Ferryville. And of course, all the state parks and natural areas are open to pursue the exploration of the fall season. Peak color has passed, yet the slow march of Driftless Wisconsin’s foliage through the spectrum of fall colors continues.
Back at La Riviere Park, I made the way home following my shadow cast by a half moon. Riley followed his nose.