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Friday, October 5, 2012

What Do The Critters Know?

I'm starting to feel like one of those oldtimers who sits on the front stoop with a toothpick in her mouth, scanning the sky for signs. "Yep," I can almost imagine mumbling. "Hard winter a-comin'. Them thar geese are a-flyin' in a snow pattern."

Of course I don't know the first thing about geese or if they even have a "snow pattern." But I have been noticing...things. There are the birds, starlings I think, that congregate every day at the same time in the big sugar maple out back and tweet furiously, tweeting, I might add, of the old-fashioned kind. They seem to be doing something important in bird world, like sounding an alarm. And I don't mean a couple of birds, I'm talking masses of them that would make Tipi Hedren's teeth rattle. Then there are the caterpillars. Over the summer, I noticed an abundance of white caterpillars with spiky black hairs outside my house, on the porch, and on the golf course greens. I've never seen this kind of caterpillar before. Finally there are the squirrels. They've been a busy bunch just lately, racing madly around the yard and sailing through treetops, gathering gathering gathering. This afternoon my faithful dog murdered one and deposited it at the back door like a little warning. See this fat, fluffy thing? Harry seemed to be saying, tail wagging and idiot dog-smile on his face. Hard winter a-comin'! 

I don't have a clue what the appearance of white caterpillars means, or for that matter why the squirrels are fat and busy or why I have a fowl symphony above my roofline. It was balmy today when I mowed my lawn in a tee shirt, and winter felt far away. Still, I keep scanning a cold blue sky with sharp edges. Autumn is here, preparing to kick summer out on her sorry behind. And there's this feeling that snow is coming. Lots and lots of snow.


Red Sky said...

Hickory Tussock caterpillars I think, hosted by many of our native hardwoods. Yes they are more abundant this year. Don't touch them, they cause allergic reactions in many people. Starlings flock for warmth at the roost and protection from predators, as well as to have good company and more fun flying. Squirrels are always busy and fat this time of year. Another easy winter ahead.

Kathleen Yasas said...

"Another easy winter ahead..." Wishful thinking, Red.

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Newspaper columnist; blogger; author of Delta Dead; author of 101 Tip$ From My Depression-Era Parents; author of Australian Fly; editor: ...And I Breathed (author, Jason Garner, former CEO of Global Music at Live Nation), "A History of the Lawrence S. Donaldson Residence"; "The Port Washington Yacht Club: A Centennial Perspective"; "The Northeastern Society of Periodontists: The First Fifty Years"; editor: NESP Bulletin; editor: PWYC Mainsail; past editorial director: The International Journal of Fertility & Women's Medicine; past editor of: Long Island Power & Sail, Respiratory Review; Medical Travelers' Advisory; School Nurse News; Clear Images; Periodontal Clinical Investigations; Community Nurse Forum