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IMG_2081.JPG   Here in the last days of autumn I look at the variety of leaves remaining on the trees and marvel at the multiple colors. Hidden within the leaves under vibrant greens thoughout the spring and summer were all of these shades of yellow, orange, red, and brown.
This is a bright sunny day for redheads. First to arrive were the little Downy woodpecker and its mate, with their black and white barred coats. Then the large outrageous Pileated woodpecker came, appearing to be the remnant of an ancient lineage. Next came the regulation Northern woodpecker, its mate wearing a rather plain tan coat except for that fierce black triangular breastplate. All of them work with amazing determination and skill, flying straight down, straight up, perching upside down, beating their heads against the grain, finding all of those tiny moving morsels, ugly to me but appetizing to them. The redheads of course include the cardinals and the tanager, whose mate still wears a luminous green coat, which I thought she would have shed for a less noticeable coat in these woods that are revealing all of her hiding places as the leaves fall.
I wonder what the insect-eaters would do with that red and yellow centipede I found yesterday? A mean-looking creature, five inches long, scurrying with uncountable legs, with biting pinchers and stingers that intimidated me. A too close encounter would send any sensible person to the Emergency Room. Would the birds have digested it, enough for several meals, or would they have left it well enough alone? More friendly encounters occur with the preying mantis and the humble walking sticks, affixed to anything stable, enjoying the last warm autumn hours. They appear to be dead until you tease them, then they will slowly respond. At six to nine inches long, the walking sticks do resemble branches, large enough for the birds to perch.
With all of these decorated creatures hanging around, I am transported to the scene last night, when the curtains of clouds suddenly revealed themselves as no clouds at all in the northern sky. They were lights, Northern Lights, shimmering in that rare dance of sunspot rays that fills the northern sky, first with the white light, that I had mistaken for clouds, then gradually revealing all the colors of the rainbow. They danced in splendor.
In a few weeks we will decorate for Christmas, but with all that we do, and as pretty as we can -make it, how can what we do compare with the extraordinary display that is already in place for all to see? Glory to God! Glory in the Highest! And the lowest.

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