Friday, September 10, 2010


Once more, autumn returns to our special, beautiful part of the Midwest. Again, the river bluffs and rocky crags of the unglaciated “Driftless Area” are afire with the bright colors of the leaves of the various hardwood trees and a variety of other plants that cloak many of our hills. Often these areas of brilliant hues are accented by the dark green of small stands of pines, cedars, and various other evergreens. Hopefully, this year we will have a lot of that “October’s bright blue weather” a famous poet once wrote about. With the blue sky above and the sun shining brightly, the scenery is often indescribably beautiful.

Perhaps we become easier to please as the years go by. These days I find a lot of enjoyment in just watching what is going on around me. In her great outdoor theater, Mother Nature can put on quite a show. And you don’t have to make reservations in order to get good seating, or shell out your hard-earned cash for admission tickets.

The Mississippi River is one of my favorite places for sightseeing. There are many parks, boat landings, and other public areas along both sides of the river that are equipped with plenty of benches and picnic tables. If you prefer, you can almost always find a good place where you can set up a folding lawn chair. And just sit back and enjoy.

Some folks really like watching the traffic on the river. The speed boats, jet-skis, and water skiers. And a variety of fishing boats. On rare occasions, we may even see a sailboat. The huge barge tows are always interesting. We can try to guess what they are carrying and what will be their destination. And we can determine how heavily each barge is loaded, by how deep it rides in the water. And then there are the trains. There is a lot of railroad traffic these days. And still that kind of “romantic something” about the sight and sound of a freight train.

And then there are always a goodly number of finny, furry, or feathered critters for us to watch. For me, no “river watching” time beats early October.


I sit here in shady comfort,
Thanks to a big fleecy cloud.
Speed boats out on the Big River
Go a-roaring by, real loud.

I watch antics by daredevil
Kids in wet suits, with ski-jets.
These half-warm, half-cool fall days are
About as good as it gets.

To the north, the sun is shining,
Lighting up bright colored trees.
Up close, the water is rippling
In the gentle autumn breeze.

This world offers many pleasures,
Such as hearing wild birds sing –
If we relax and enjoy them,
We can feel rich as a king.

Outdoor sights and sounds surround us,
Pleasing to the ear and eye,
But we must reach out and grasp them
And not let them just slip by.

In this wonderland, I find I’m
Almost never bored at all,
With this wealth of nature’s wonders
Right here at my beck and call

I watch a hungry woodpecker
With a jackhammer-like bill
That seems almost as effective.
As a big pneumatic drill.

Every now and then I see a
Pair of mallard ducks fly by.
From somewhere high in the clouds. I
Hear a lonely wild goose cry.

A bald eagle slides down out of
The gray sky, seeking a fish,
But this time he comes up empty –
With unfulfilled, hungry wish.

I can see some fellow fishing
Over there in State Line Slough
He’s been throwing back some small ones,
But caught a “keeper” or two.

A huge barge tow moves down river
With murmuring, muffled sound,
Loaded full and riding low, it’s
Most likely New Orleans bound.

I listen to the soft sighing
Of a lonely autumn breeze
Sifting, sorting its way through the
Leaves of brightly-colored trees.

Nature’s full line of enjoyment
Waits right here for you and me.
A great show, and not expensive.
It is mostly all for free.

About all this day will cost me
Is time, and the wear-and-tear
On the seat of these old britches
And my old folding lawn chair.

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