Do you remember the first night of Spring? For me, it’s when it gets warm enough to leave the bedroom window ajar so the peepers can lull me to sleep. This year it was April 14-15. After a 70 degree day, it stayed in the high 40s overnight, featuring increasing rain that turned into thunder and lightning around 4:30 AM. In the rapidly melting snow out there in the Friedman Forest, Spotted Salamanders squeezed out from under still-frozen deadfalls and headed for their vernal pool.

I like the Friedman Forest a lot. It just feels like primeval deep woods. Walking this Joshua’s Trust property one October, I came in sight of the pond and flushed about a dozen Wood Ducks. Ten steps later, another dozen. Then another batch, and another. All in all, there must have been a hundred or so taking a break from their migration. One Wood Duck is beautiful but boy, I was lucky that day. Try it yourself this fall; walk clockwise on the loop and slow down as you come over the ridge and spy the marsh. You’ll surely see something good. Any Spotted Salamanders though have been invisible all summer, and will remain so until some wet night next spring

During summer we (hopefully) remove all the glass barriers between us and the outdoors, leaving just screens. Now I’m afraid it’s about time to shut those windows. In early fall, when the northwest wind blows, there’s a bite to it. Are you like me, though, one who can’t walk past a window without looking out? I see a lot that way. It’s ever-changing out there, and the random (to us) movements of animals and birds means there is always a chance for a serendipitous sighting. Last winter the little brook down my hill was treated to a Bald Eagle recon mission, and thus I was too. Wow. Window shopping.

I’m one who likes to live outside…who has lunch on the patio on that January thaw day, usually wearing a hat and gloves. You don’t have to be crazy like me, but do yourself a favor – walk outside before it’s too late. Try Friedman Forest. The woods will be glowing, red and golden leaves rustling in the breeze. Don’t just look out your windows – they’ll be closing soon.

-by George Jacobi