Seasons Change, and So Did I

Summer’s hold lingered on this year. Even in mid-October, we were able to enjoy our outdoor living room and had morning coffee along with the newspaper outside. But as the calendar turned to November, the mornings turned to frost. We finally had a killing frost, so the last of the basil and peppers and tomatoes turned to a wilted heap of formerly living matter. This year, though, our beech nut tree was prolific in its generosity to wildlife. So much so that earlier in the summer, we lost several large branches off of the beech full of nuts. The forester we use said it was actually the weight of the nuts causing the limbs to give way. So it was not a surprise for us as we sat outside in the early evening to see a family of deer grazing on the bountiful nuts littering our lawn.

Beech nuts are small. Only a few calories per nut, and you have to peel the triangular shell back to release the nut. Deer don’t worry about the extra roughage from the nuts, though. They just keep eating the whole thing, then depositing the remains as fertilizer on our lawn. We have learned to live with our four-footed neighbors, since we swapped out our flowers to deer-resistant varieties over the years. We do get to see sights like this year’s fawn trying to aggressively nurse from its mother. My guess is that the doe had already dried up since the fawn quit trying to nurse as abruptly as it tried to start.

This is the season of the suicide squirrels. You see their squashed carcasses decorating the roads all over this area. As you drive, you are likely to see a squirrel begin its dash across the street, then suddenly turn to go back to the safety of the grass, only to reverse course again and continue across the road. Many is the time when I’ve discovered how good my brakes are, by stopping before our car adds to the seasonal slaughter. Of course, we got to watch a squirrel score a touchdown at a recent Marshall game. The squirrel raced across the field, crossed the goal line to the delight of the student section, then eventually retraced his steps and left the stadium with humans in pursuit. Wildlife on the field is a common theme right now, though. This past weekend we were graced with the sight of a fox at the Arizona State – USC game. And I just saw footage of a moose running across the field at South Dakota State, although no football game was in progress. It is that time of year.

Photo by Zachary Hiser

Later falls and lessened tree color. Are these signs of global warming? As the statistician in me says, individual anecdotes do not a trend make. Still, one has to wonder when summer-like warmth extends later, and later into the year. Some trees still haven’t changed colors, like our cherry tree in our front yard. The only thing we can do is watch the trends, and report as appropriate. See, no one remarks when the expected happens. We only talk about it when our expectations are not met. In the case of the extended summer, it was unexpected, but welcome. Only when I reflect upon the weather do I realize that this is not normal. I am not accustomed to not needing a jacket in the middle of November. But I can enjoy it, for as long as it lasts.

Only a month ago. Now just a memory in green