Get Outside

By |
From Missouri Conservationist: October 2020

Ways to Connect With Nature

Chicken Chase

There are chickens to be found in the woods this fall, but they are not of the feathered kind. They are of the fungi kind. Hen of the woods, a choice edible, are ripe for the picking. They grow as a single large circular cluster on the ground at the base of oak trees or stumps. They are often found on the same tree year after year, so once you find a good spot, check it every autumn.

Only consume mushrooms you know are edible. For more information about Missouri mushrooms, check out AGuide to Missouri’s Edible and Poisonous Mushrooms at

Give Your Rake a Break

Fall color peaks by mid-October, and by the end of the month, those beautiful red, yellow, and orange leaves begin to fall to the ground. Before you head outside for a day of yard work, why not give your rake a break? Fallen leaves provide much needed cover and nesting material for wildlife and dormant pollinators. Consider it your gift to nature, and a day off for yourself. You also can collect a few for a fun craft project.

Busy Beavers

It’s a good time to catch a glimpse of a hardworking beaver — or two. Beavers are active during the day, gathering food and preparing their lodges for winter. They live in colonies — family groups comprising an adult male and female and their yearlings and kits — so you may see more than one.

How to Preserve Autumn Leaves

We all love the flashy colors of autumn leaves, but by the end of October, that flash starts to fade. Here’s an easy way to keep those leaves brilliant, beautiful, and flexible all winter long.

What You Need

  • An assortment of colorful leaves
  • Glycerin (Look for it in the soapmaking section of craft stores.)
  • Water
  • Measuring cup
  • Two cake pans
  • Paper towels

Step One: In a cake pan, stir one part glycerin into two parts water. You’ll need enough of this mixture to cover all of the leaves you want to preserve. If you have lots of leaves, you can preserve them in batches.

Step Two: Place the leaves into the glycerin mixture. You can add several layers of leaves, but make sure each leaf is completely covered with the mixture.

Step Three: Place a weighted cake pan on top of the leaves to hold them down in the mixture. Let the leaves soak like this for three to five days. The longer they soak, the more flexible and better preserved they will be.

Step Four: Take out the leaves and blot off the glycerin with paper towels. (If the leaves aren’t shiny and flexible, let them soak for a few more days.) The leaves may curl up a little bit. If you prefer flatter leaves, place them between paper towels and stack heavy books on top of them for several days.

You can use your leaves as table decorations for a Thanksgiving feast, tie them in bunches to use as Christmas tree ornaments, or weave them into a wreath to hang on your front door (most craft stores sell wreath frames).

Natural Events to See This Month

Here’s what’s going on in the natural world.

  • Most species of crayfishes breed in the fall
  • Listen for quail covey calls half an hour before dawn
  • Midland brownsnakes cross trails and roads in fall
  • Northern two-striped walkingsticks mate in autumn
  • Black bears enter hibernation

This Issue's Staff

Magazine Manager - Stephanie Thurber

Editor - Angie Daly Morfeld

Associate Editor - Larry Archer

Staff Writer - Bonnie Chasteen
Staff Writer - Heather Feeler
Staff Writer - Kristie Hilgedick
Staff Writer - Joe Jerek

Art Director - Cliff White

Designer - Shawn Carey
Designer - Les Fortenberry
Designer - Marci Porter

Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner

Circulation - Laura Scheuler