Is this Fall? In Florida?

It’s Fall, sort of, in Florida.  It’s hot and humid, but there are some pretty red leaves falling from a tree I cannot even locate in our yard.  My daughter loves to pick up the red leaves and hunt for other pretty leaf shapes.  The best part about Fall in North Florida is that some day it will actually be cooler, and the humidity will drop to a manageable level.  Mountain biking will turn from a sweat dripping in the eyes event to digging out a jacket for an early morning ride.

I have been on several nice rides recently that almost made me remember nicer weather! My husband and I visited the Munson Hills off-road bike trails again in September; we did not see the fox squirrel this time however.  The ride was great and the weather was super!

Today, my bike partner and I did a little bit of early morning road riding outside of town.  On the way to our meeting spot, it began raining, and five minutes later the sun peaked out.  As I turned a corner and saw the sun, I also saw a rainbow.  The WHOLE rainbow.  Frequently, you only see one small part of the rainbow, but today I saw both sides!  The bike ride was the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.  It was a great rainbow, and worth the whole adventure.  The ride was nice and different from our normal rides since it was mostly on paved roads.  While we were heading up a hill, I looked up and noticed something large in the road ahead.  You guessed it – a deer!  A big one at that!  We did not get very close before it noticed we were heading its way, and it disappeared into the head-high brush.  As we passed the spot we looked for the deer, but saw nothing.  We noticed there was a fence on that side of the road and we had not seen the deer jump the fence, so it must have been hiding right there in the tall grasses only feet from our bikes, and I am sure we would never have seen it.  Their camouflage is amazing.  We left the deer in peace as we continued our ride.

On the way back, I noticed something on the side of the road.  We stopped to investigate and realized it was a dead barred owl.  He was beautiful, and unfortunately, not moving.  I have heard that they frequently hunt mice that are attracted to trash on the side of the road, and are then hit while hunting the mice.  A good day for the deer, a bad day for the owl.   

We have barred owls that live in our neighborhood that like to wake us up at 2:00 a.m. sometimes.  I haven’t heard them much this summer, but I suspect we’ll hear more from them as the weather cools down.   They talk back and forth in the wooded area behind our house, and once in a while we even get to see them.  Mostly they just wake us up with their hooting; they really like the large pine tree outside our bedroom window.  This is okay with me, since I would rather have them up in my pine tree rather than chasing mice in the road.  Our neighborhood has lots of small rodents and reptiles for the taking, a regular buffet for owls!

Illustration: Barred owl

Watch out for bikers, deer and owls while on your adventures this Fall. 

I certainly need lots of deer and rainbows in my life – don’t you?

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