Monday, October 17, 2011

Autumn Busy-ness

The world here is rapidly attending to preparations for the coming winter . So far , these major events have happened around my house.

- The robins gathered two weeks ago in the backyard . Close to 30 were frantically scouring for worms brought to the surface by recent rains. Among them, I'm sure, were the new ones who hatched outside my computer room window. The next day , there was not a robin in sight. Well , I'll look for them in early spring .

- The annual starling flock landed this past weekend. So impressive is a flock of several hundred birds that my teenager stopped to take a picture on his cell phone. I see these birds twice a year usually in such large numbers...when they gather to leave in October...and when they return in May.

- Over the last two weeks , Canada Geese have been gathering in harvested corn fields gobbling down corn kernels voraciously to fuel up for the long journey ahead .Occasionally , a small group will take to the air , anxious to move to the instinct that calls them south. But these well begun attempts end in a flurry of confusion above the field. And the over-anxious young land again to wait. A leader is what's needed .
 Each day , the grounded flocks become larger . It reminds me of an airport . All gathering at the correct gate to wait for the right departure time. I hope that when it happens this year , I will be on hand to view the first flock that forms up . When it leaves , it will start a determined take off of individual flocks from the field. Within minutes , the field will be empty. The geese will be gone. Then I will reassemble my winter bed . And there , I'll wait until the waterways free themselves of winter ice to welcome the geese back in April.

- Eighty percent of the leaves have fallen from the hardwood trees. Still the white poplars hold on ...and the sugar maples in all their orange glory. Come March , I'll be there to drink the first water that rises in the Maples and begin the syruping as winter creeps away.

- Then there is the deer mouse , who always manages to find the trail into my home left by past generations. One that I never manage to find. There is only one visitor each fall . I am waiting to nab him early and release him in enough time to find a bed outside for the winter. I am saying 'he' in optimistic fantasy.

- The ladybugs have swarmed. Not the Japanese species that was introduced 15 years ago to support local agriculture. I only see them during the summer. These are the paler orange , native species . Every year , they swarm in the last hot days before the north winds take over . Last week when ladybugs covered the front of my house ,I knew these sunny over-20C-hours were the last traces of summer .

Now I wait for two more things. The killing frost that wipes away all thoughts of green . And the final flight of the whiteflies that rise from the ground for their last hoorah , the day before the snow-that-stays.

Meanwhile I have a lot of work to do. Time to initiate my vacuum-and-release ladybug program. There are 37 on the livingroom ceiling.

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