Monday, August 29, 2005

August 29, 2005

"Is there some significance here I am unaware of? Or no significance at all?" Czeslaw Milosz, Symbolic Mountains and Forests

What’s a blog without a rant? Okay, so here’s my current one. I’ll try not to rant any more until September (Oh, God, that’s 3 whole days away).

Top 8 reasons why I intensely dislike summer.

8. Thunderstorms and tornados. These aren’t fun when you live in the woods surrounded by trees. I have several trees that are too close to the house, anyway. I can open my upstairs bedroom window and touch the leaves. Having the trees this close is great for birdwatching. During migration seasons I take my binoculars with me when I’m sitting at my computer, which faces a window. My best sighting from this window has been wood ducks in the spring checking out the holes in the trees. So far no takers. Some years ago a tornado came through the area, passing only a few hundred yards to my west. I was at work when it came through and had to detour all over the place (roads blocked by fallen trees), driving where I shouldn’t, not to mention over and around fallen trees, to find a way in to the cabin. The 20 minute drive took over an hour, and I found a path literally on the last possible choice of travel routes to get in to the area. I truly expected to find the cabin nothing but a pile of sticks. What I found was a driveway full of big branches, a tree lying across the back deck and the cats still under the bed. Not to mention the eeriest and most complete silence I’ve ever heard.

7. Mosquitos. West Nile virus has hospitalized at least three people from my county this summer. I refuse to cover myself in DEET every time I step outside, so I get bitten sometimes.

6. It’s very green out. It’s like living inside a green “box” in summer. I have native plant life right up to the front and rear doors with trees in every direction. Most days I can’t see the sky unless I go out onto the back deck and look straight up. From inside the cabin, I can see little pinpricks of sky through the leaves in some places, but that’s the extent of it. In winter I have a great view of the two mountains to my west. With my scope, I can just barely see the porch light of my nearest western neighbor in winter. I think the light is over a mile away.

5. It’s nearly always humid and therefore usually hazy. Even if I did have a view of something in the summer, I likely wouldn’t be able to see it due to the hazy and humid weather that’s normal here. I know, intellectually, that the haze is part of the chlorophyll process in action, but it’s still not attractive. Try watching for a Perseid meteor shower when it’s hazy. Try looking for aurora borealis when it’s hazy. Try looking for the Milky Way when it’s hazy. You get the idea.

4. Not good for hiking. I sweat enough on a cool day when I’m carrying a pack. Hiking when it’s 95oF outside simply isn’t my idea of fun.

3. Not good for birding. They’re too hot to move much either. Plus, there are rarely any truly exciting birds in summer—just the residents and the summer residents. During the migration seasons, it’s possible to see almost anything. It’s always surprising.

2. Not good for hawkwatching. See #3 above. I do have a few resident raptors around—mostly red-tailed hawks, though the local American kestrels also fledged a batch of teenage terrorist falcons this year. (More on these another time). Great horned and eastern screech owls rule the night, but it’s not the same as accidentally flushing a bald eagle out of a nearby stand of pine trees or seeing an osprey take a fish from one of the local ponds.

And the number one reason why I so intensely dislike summer:

1. I am sick to death of hearing people say, “I can’t live without air conditioning.” Get over it, people! Until 50 years ago everyone lived without air conditioning. Darwin’s Theory doesn’t work that fast. I live without air conditioning today. If people didn’t cut down every flipping tree around they wouldn’t need so much “steenking” air conditioning. Here’s the deal: I work near a city where the temperature is a good 10-15 degrees higher than it is at the cabin (okay, so I wouldn’t want to live in *those* temperatures without air conditioning either). When I get drive out of the city and get to the rural areas on my drive home from making a living, the temperature drops 6-7 degrees over the city temperature. The very moment I first reach the forest on the drive to the cabin, the temperature drops another 6-7 degrees. The inside of the cabin is typically 3 degrees cooler than outside. So even on the hottest days, the cabin area is 10-15 degrees cooler than the city. Imagine if every house was surrounded by trees instead of the sterile grassy lawns that suburbanites love so very, very much.

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