Monday, November 3, 2008

No Groundhog Day

Evansville State Hospital Park

We finally got the walking underway yesterday. A 7.5 kilometre march to and through the nearby park pictured above. There are wonderful colours in the plentiful trees in the park and surrounding area. Apparently, due to a conspiring combination of climatic circumstances, there are many more trees still in full leaf than is usual at this time of the year. As if they waited for us to arrive before entering the full glory of their autumn/fall display. The weather is also superb, meaning that we enjoy the show in good light and comfort.

There is an amazing abundance of grey squirrels - it seems one for every tree. They scamper, hide and climb to amuse us as we tear at full tilt through their terrain. Despised in England because they have "driven out" the native red squirrels, they are still of course lovely and lively animals, wherever they are.

We repeated the same walk this morning, including a reprise of one disappointing factor of yesterday's expedition. On Saturday Gay had been for a run in the same park and had seen a groundhog, so we were hoping to catch one of these during our early morning walk. Maybe we were too early for them. They do like a little warmth before they venture forth. One of Lorenzo's friends says he has seen them emerge just to the mouth of their burrow as the sun starts to hit the ground. They wait there until the rays hit them, then absorb some heat for a while until they feel revved up enough to start their day. Maybe we should go out a little later, but we like to get the exercise out of the way early so that it does not interfere with the rest of the day for our hosts, as well as for ourselves.

Although a beautiful day, it was much cooler today than yesterday. There had been noticeable dropping of leaves during the night - usually a reliable indicator of a drop in temperature (although a lovely warm day is forecast today). But for our early foray, even the squirrels seemed to be slower to get going, so maybe it was a bit much to expect the groundhogs to put in an appearance. Or maybe they were off making another movie?

On the way to and from the park we were reminded that during our visit here, we are not only experiencing the amazing election, but we have also taken in an American Halloween. This is a much more extensive thing than it is in Europe. There are stunning displays of Halloween figures almost filling some gardens and porches - still. But another Halloween custom took us completely by surprise. It seems that on Halloween day, it is permissible to wear anything you like, to dress up not necessarily as a frightening Halloween character. For instance, we were in Barnes and Noble, the big bookseller, on that day. A woman came in, wearing a wedding dress. She married in August and wanted to wear the dress again. So she would be wearing it for the full day. A member of staff was dressed as Death.

This morning, not only are gardens and houses still decorated for Halloween, but some are already decorated for Thanksgiving, for "Happy Harvest", and we even saw a house with a wreath containing an early greeting for a Happy Christmas!

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