Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Summer wears on

In case I forget to notice how the summer season is already beyond its midpoint, Grandmother Nature has a way of reminding me. Here’s a brief list of my “reminders” from the past few days.

Walking sticks, one of the cuter insects on our planet, are starting to be in evidence. I found one on the side view mirror of my car yesterday morning. It still wasn’t yet a full-sized one, as it was still rather brownish, though they can also mimic the color of their surroundings, at least within the green and brown spectrum. They make good pets, as they live for about a year, and though I’ve been tempted on occasion, I always leave them someplace safe and let them go.

Hickory nuts are falling—almost on my head. The woods are not quite littered with them, but that’s not far away. A walk in the woods yesterday had them falling to one side or another of me frequently. Most are still greenish on the outside shells, so these haven’t ripened fully. If I get ambitious this weekend, I’ll get out my hammer and see how the nuts look inside. Shagbark hickory nuts are delicious but I probably expend more calories getting to the nuts than I do from the nuts. I’ve already had a few close encounters where the nuts nearly fell on my head. I’m not at all sure I want to know how that feels.

Barn swallows are congregating on wires. This has always amazed me. The swallows line up like people waiting for a movie box office to open. They spend days lined up and then one day they are suddenly gone until spring. Do they talk among themselves about when they are going to leave? Are there arguments or disagreements over the right day? Does one of them lead the pack and they all just follow the lead bird? I know scientists will tell the story about the shortening hours of daylight, weather, food, etc. as triggers, but I suspect the birds still “decide” in some mysterious birdy way. They are all lined up together, waiting for the spirit to move them, or the leader to say “now!” They are fun to watch. For once, the spit-spatting and minor swallow arguments are forgotten. They sit calmly, as though waiting for a signal. They will be gone from here within a week, if their timing this year is normal.

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