Notes From Swan's Nest


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Squirrels, Pinecones and Autumn's Harvest

My husband, Randy and I have been watching an industrious squirrel race back and forth past our breakfast room bay window every morning and evening for the past month. Much smaller than the variety we’re accustomed to in Texas, this little mountain guy lives in the forest behind Swan’s Nest, but has a special affinity for the large pine cones that grow on a tall spruce tree in our front yard.
Like clockwork, he begins his trek around 8 o’clock every morning, runs at full speed past the windows along the driveway, stops briefly at a pine tree to make sure the coast is clear, and then darts under the spruce tree about 20 yards away, where he briefly disappears from sight. A few moments later the squirrel reappears, clutching a pine cone tightly in his mouth, and retraces his path at full speed. The pine cone, held lengthwise, is almost as long as the squirrel. Past the windows, between the mums, over the far end of a newly created garden bed, through the large rock garden onto the back driveway, over the huge boulders that line the driveway, and a mad dash through the meadow until he reaches the relative safety of the forest. Only to repeat the process over and over again. Does our little squirrel know something we don’t? Is he preparing for another extra-cold, extra snowy winter?
While I can’t predict the type of Colorado winter we’re going to have, I do know that summer’s hot weather has transitioned in much of the country into autumn’s cooler temperatures, and nature’s display of rich colors, textures and fragrances is beginning to transform landscapes into colorful, breathtaking palettes . In the mountains, the aspen leaves are turning to shades of gold, orange and red, and the willows along our creek and ponds are becoming more colorful each day.
Taking a cue from nature, our front entry and home interior now proclaim to all who enter that autumn has arrived.  Copper-hued mums line the newly-landscaped garden along the front driveway. A luxurious autumn wreath hangs on the door. An arrangement of yellow chrysanthemums, bales of straw, pumpkins, and a basket of pinecones brighten the area next to our front door. The fireplace mantel, tops of the china cabinet and bookcases, and bookshelves in my kitchen are accented with autumn leaves, pumpkins, and gourds. And, a deep red woven throw drapes in soft folds over an arm of the sofa, ready to offer warmth and comfort on chilly evenings.
It’s easy and fun to add touches of fall to your home, whether you live in an apartment, studio, condo, or house. A stroll down the street or around your yard, or a visit to the countryside can reap countless natural materials to work with – dried grasses and flowers, nuts, seedpods, pinecones, horse apples, and twigs can all be used as decorative accents. Add candles, a stack of old leather-bound books, a bowl of shiny apples, and a few small pumpkins to grace your home with the warmth and beauty of autumn’s harvest.