Wade: If swimming in the fall seems a bit extreme, wading can be just as fun. Just yesterday, as I waded in the surf at Sea Isle City, I watched an osprey fish for about 30 minutes and identified four species of gulls (laughing, ring-billed, herring and greater black-back), two shore birds (a semipalmated plover and sanderlings) and a common tern. And as I birded while wading, a few brave souls "surfed."
Boat: Fall is also a great time to boat in a canoe or kayak. Wildlife is usually more tolerant of watchers on the water than watchers on land. Just be sure that everyone always wears a personal flotation device.
Walk/hike: Against a backdrop of fall colors, it's hard to beat a brisk walk in the woods. You invariably get a peek or two at some interesting wildlife, and if you do it with a purpose, call it a "hike."
Camp/gaze: One of my favorite fall activities is to camp by a fire in our hayfield and gaze at the night sky. When our daughters were little girls, my wife and I did this at least a few times each fall. We'd roast hot dogs and marshmallows, watch for shooting stars, learn a few constellations and tell scary stories. Before we fell asleep, we'd often hear a hooting great horned owl and maybe a few yipping coyotes. These remain are some of my favorite family memories.
Plan: Finally, fall can be a great time to plan for the future. Where to spend the upcoming holidays is always an important decision. Do the girls come home or do we travel to them?
My wife and I also like to plan our next big trip. We have several long road trips under our belts, and we're itching to do another. Our first was Pennsylvania to Arizona, then Michigan to British Columbia, and West Virginia to North Dakota. We reminisce about these trips often, so it's time to plan another. Maybe we'll hit the road in 2013.
To outdoor enthusiasts, it's four-letter words that can make life worth living.
Send questions and comments to Dr. Scott Shalaway, 2222 Fish Ridge Road, Cameron, WV 26033, or by email at sshala...@aol.com.