Autumn watch

Even though the temperature got up to nearly eighty degrees today, it feels like fall. The sun is noticeably lower in the sky, and daylight is noticeably shorter than nighttime. I went for a walk up in the hills overlooking Half Moon Bay, and once you get out from under the redwoods into the chaparral, the plants look tired and dry and worn out, ready for the winter rains. Even the fall asters look faded now, with blossoms that are almost white instead of pale violet.

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Above: Honeybee pollinating asters at Purissima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve; the asters are probably the Common California Aster (Symphyotrichum chilense)

During the long climb back up to the trail head, I kept stopping to admire the way the afternoon sun shone gently on the steep hills and canyons that descended to the ocean; admiring the view was also a good excuse to stop and catch my breath when the trail was steepest. After one particularly steep stretch, I turned and saw a Golden Eagle below me. This was a perfect excuse to stop for a moment. I watched the eagle ride the breeze down the canyon until it disappeared from my view behind a forested ridge.

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