Tails of terror ripped through the Applegate homestead as the rustling of the Halloween hats bag was heard.
The canines were the only victims this year. Unfortunately, the tricks were on them, because no treats were offered.
Sadie was tragically humiliated and refused to model the cowgirl hat.
However, she made a very sweet devil dog.
Clem, ever the pro at modeling Halloween hats, demonstrated the various faces of Satan .... snarling Satan, annoyed Satan, hungry Satan and sad Satan.
Clem additionally seemed unfazed by the straw hat and alpaca headpiece.
Sherman, the expert poser, looked like an elder statesman in the straw hat. This is fitting because he is the oldest canine at over 9 years old.
Gus, the newest Halloween hats victim, took the horrifying humiliation in stride.
Along with the colorful leaves of fall came cooler temperatures. This was welcomed by many of the Applegate household who sport furry parkas.
The brisk temperatures seemed to ramp up the canines' energy levels.
Also exciting the dogs was the fact that the wild animals were on the move preparing for winter. Calls of chipmunks echoed through the woodlands. It reminded me of the "Old McDonald Had a Farm" song. The chorus would have went "with a chip, chip here; a chip, chip there; here a chip; there a chip; everywhere a chip, chip."
This very vocal chipping had dogs running here and there searching for the sources of the calls to no avail.
Squirrels were preparing for the upcoming winter as well. Several trail camera photos showed a gray squirrel or two running through the frames.
The deer were more active as well. "The girls" could almost be seen nightly in the field beside our house.
However, their nighttime visits to the apple tree in our back yard were most likely the reason for what I have dubbed "Barktoberfest." Dry cool autumn nights with an accessible doggie door meant the Applegate canines would bark at whatever crossed within an acre of the house.
The dogs weren't the only ones interested in the neighborhood girls. Several large bucks were seen on the trail cameras passing through as the rut is underway.
Changes in the feather-friends population were also seen. Some spring migrants were passing back through on their trips south for the winter.
Meanwhile, a new visitor appeared at the bird feeder. A female ring-necked pheasant was spotted looking a little lost. I surmised that she was probably one the game farm raised birds that were released ahead of pheasant season. However, she seemed to currently be sticking to the safety zones around the neighborhood houses.
Nonetheless, despite the frenzied fall activity, the colorful backdrops provided for some stunning autumn photos.
The brilliant backgrounds even made the goats Kennedy and Kyle look marvelous.
I also felt that Lil' Bit should be included in the fall photo fun. He was first placed in a hammock swing that was not to his liking. After that incident, his expression was very snarky.
That's just the nature of things 'round here.
I love to paint with all the colors. Favorite painting subjects include pleces where I get to utilize the entire palette of hues. During autumn, Mother Nature helps me incorporate all the colors into my photographs as well.
The brilliance of all the fall hues reflected in the neighbor's pond always inspires.
The added ripple effects add an abstract quality to each photo even though the scenes may be similar. Waves are either created by the wind or from the wake of swimming canines.
As I view these photos, it often invokes an interest in painting them. However, the camera is quicker and more efficient at capturing the scenes. There is also less clean up involved.
Leaves seemingly suspended on the pond's surface also provide additional color and textures.
As the colors fade this season, my watercolor photos will come to an end. However, I can still paint these scenes. Paintings, while a little more effort than photographs, aren't necessarily as dependent on Mother Nature to provide the colors and lighting. That's just the nature of things 'round here.
It seemed to me that this fall started just like the internet memes have stated - it felt as if Mother Nature just flipped the switch from summer to fall.
In the past few days, I have literally taken hundreds of photos every day. It appeared to me that this year's autumn display was more colorful than in years past. Even though the locations were the same, the scenes changed overnight as more and more hues burst forth.
The neighbor's pond was a great example of this. Reflections turned into impressionist paintings that evolved every day into different works of art. Included in this post is just a sampling of this year's autumn display.
If you can over the next few days, get out and enjoy the brilliance. I will continue to take many, many photos of just about every colorful tree and leaf. That's just the nature of things 'round here.
(Author's note: We interrupt the regular programming of The Nature of Things for a little piece on a trip to Benezette in Elk County earlier this month. I hope to return to finish "Moment in time: Part two" soon. However, I am an avowed practicing procrastinator.)
We received the most "piss-poor" reception on an early October trip to view the elk in Benezette. However, despite the wet welcome from both the animals and the weather, the trip was not a complete wash.
While Venango County didn't receive a whole lot of rain from the remnants of Hurricane Ian, counties to the east were still dealing with the precipitation.
Nonetheless, the fall foliage display in Elk County which was slightly ahead of our county, was still bright and delightful despite the weather.
It seemed so odd to me to view elk in nearly almost the same type of woodland area as parts Venango County. An article by Joe Kosack for the Pennsylvania Game Commission stated that Eastern elk once ranged statewide.
"Elk were exterminated in southeastern Pennsylvania and rare west of the Allegheny River and in the Blue Ridge and Cumberland mountains by the opening of the nineteenth century," Kosack wrote. "By the 1850s, what remained of Pennsylvania's once mighty elk population was limited to sections of northcentral Pennsylvania, predominantly in Cameron, Elk and McKean counties."
Kosack then went on to describe the reintroduction of elk into the state and the beginnings of the herd that folks can view today. Earlier reports on Facebook had reported that a couple of bull elk had been spotted as far north as Coudersport in Potter County.
While the state's elk herd was alive and well, whitetails seemed to be abundant in the Benezette area as well.
Nonetheless, I had pictured in my mind, photos of big, majestic bull elk sparing and bugling.
Instead I had to settle for a little bull making some water on the roadway and found abundant humor in the moment.
That's just the nature of things round here and there.
"The Nature of Things" features the writings and photographs of Anna Applegate, who is a lifelong resident of Pinegrove Township, Venango County. She is a graduate of Cranberry High School and Clarion University. After a 15-year career in the local news industry, she made a change and now works at a steel finishing plant in Sandycreek Township. She is a avid lover of animals and nature, and a gifted photographer.