Tuesday, October 17, 2006

First Frost

I haven't blogged for a few days (as you can plainly tell). The weekend was so beautiful that I was outside enjoying the beautiful fall weather for as long as I could be, not inside at the computer. I could easily have spent even more time outside but the days were too short. And yesterday I was away for work, so it is only now that I'm catching up again.

I had the season's first frost on Friday and Saturday nights. Despite global warming and this an El Nino year, albeit a mild one, the first frost in this area was precisely at the normal time. Traditionally, the first frost here is October 15, and this year the first frost fell on the 13th and 14th. A nitpicker might even try and call that "early" but it is so minutely early that I won't be one of those. The first killing frost is traditionally the end of October, so I still have 10+ days to go before I know if this year will be normal for that, too.

The autumn leaf changes progresses, but I am officially prepared to declare this season to be a bit odd. Many of the trees have turned color or even dropped their leaves. But at least half of the trees are still very green. As a result, the impact of the fall color is much diminished over years when the color change hits all the trees at the same time. I don't know what has caused this disparity in the leaf change. It isn't trees species and doesn't appear to be tree location, as one tree is in full color, while its neighbor of the same species is still green. I suspect the difference is moisture/root system related but I have no way to prove it, and I am open to new evidence.

Today the forest is enjoying a cold fall rain that already has dropped many of the leaves that have turned color. Leaves begin to litter the drive, though the leaf drop still has a long to go to be complete. This morning Baby Dog pounced on the leaves that the wind skittered away from her while the rain was still a sprinke. She thought them a great new toy or perhaps some strange living creature that was trying to escape her notice. She was like a cat, bouncing from one wind-tossed leaf to the next, oblivious to anything I said to her or even to the realization that the motion was nothing but a leaf. Last fall she was a tiny puppy, so in some ways this is the first fall she can explore and enjoy.

Dog, predictably, ignores the leaves but is intent on strange new scents. Last night he broke away from me briefly when something ran in front of us. I suspect it was a fox, as Dog ignores cats and is familiar with the raccoons and opossums. For him to get so wound up that he would pull the lead out of my hand suggests it was something more exciting. I saw only a pair of eyes reflected in my headlamp, low enough that I could tell it was not a deer (which also wind him up).

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