Winter will begin on Saturday, and the last days of fall have been mostly brisk in West Marin. Freezing temperatures at night killed a few potted plants on the deck of Mitchell cabin, and the surrounding hills were white with frost several mornings this past week.

In Inverness, where the ridge creates daylong shadows in some places, there were days when the frost never melted.

Horses munching on bunches of green grass below my persimmon tree. Although the persimmons have ripened, Lynn and I haven’t found time to pick them, so birds and raccoons have been feasting  for a couple of weeks. (Photo by Lynn Axelrod)

Five blacktail bucks in my pasture near the Giacomini stockpond. Bucks can often be seen hanging out together these days.

The sunrise Saturday a week ago was so spectacular, I had to get out of bed long enough to photograph it. ‘Twas another reminder that the world is waiting for a sunrise.

Four of the horses grazing near Mitchell cabin are wearing blankets because of the cold. (The fourth would be totally hidden were it not for its blue blanket.) The fifth horse is either hardy or unlucky enough to have an owner that can’t afford to buy it a blanket, which I doubt is the case. (Photo by Lynn Axelrod)

A young buck grazing outside my kitchen door.

For years many people believed (and many websites still say) that blacktails are a subspecies of mule deer, a species found from the Northwest to the deserts of the Southwest and as far east as the Dakotas. DNA tests, however, have now found mule deer to be a hybrid of female whitetail deer and blacktail bucks.

As Bruce Morris writes in Bay Nature, “All three major deer species native to North America (blacktail, whitetail, and mule) trace their ancestry back to a primordial, rabbit-size Odocoileus, which had fangs and no antlers and lived around the Arctic Circle some 10 million years ago.”

Whitetails first appeared on the East Coast about 3.5 million years ago, as this blog previously noted. DNA evidence suggests they spread south and then west, arriving in California about 1.5 million years ago.

In moving up the coast, whitetails evolved into blacktails, which resemble them in appearance and temperament. Blacktails eventually extended their range eastward, meeting up with more whitetails coming from the east. Apparently the blacktail bucks were able to horn in on the harems of their parent species. The result: mule deer.

I always feel nostalgic as fall comes to an end. It’s a time to reflect on both the past year and the passing of the years.

Having just read virtually all issues of The Point Reyes Light/Baywood Press from shortly after World War II to the present, I can understand why longtime West Marin residents think of the old days on this coast as a happier, simpler time.

American entertainment was frequently cornier while at the same time more fun.

You can share in the nostalgia by watching this goofy but clever video featuring the pop-eyed expressions of the late Jerry Colonna (right) more than half a century ago.

You’ll need to be full screen with the sound up to appreciate it. The Girl that Married Dear Old Dad (click here).