CLIMATE CHANGE IN SOUTH CENTRAL MASSACHUSETTS

We don’t need scientists to explain climate change to us. We can see it all around us. The rivers are dry with their muddy bottoms showing. Fall came weeks early and blew away a week later. The winds which normally blow straight up the Atlantic shore are twisting eastward, so all the rain goes from the mid-Atlantic area straight out to sea, completely missing the northeast.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

As a watershed area, the water that we store here is part of the water that keeps the entire state flowing wetly along. And some of the water normally flows down into Connecticut and parts of southern New Hampshire.

Muddy banks, short dock at Riverbend

I leave a bowl of water on the deck. Squirrels, chipmunks, birds  … they all come to drink. Usually there are little rivulets and patches of wet through the woods. But not this year. It’s bone dry which is scary for any number of reasons, including the danger of fire. So far, it has just been little brush fires, quickly squelched. But New England is 70% wooded. There’s a lot of forest and it’s dry. And contrary to presidential warnings, no one has been out there raking the woodlands to keep them neat. What a really stupid idea that is. There’s so much stupidity going around. It’s hard to keep track of all the dumbness. I wish some of the incredibly stupid ones would drop by. Check out our dry rivers. Maybe pick up a rake and start raking my woods. Maybe cut down a few ailing trees while he’s at it.

We aren’t waiting for climate change to come. It’s here. We’re living in it.

PARENTAL ORANGE CARDINALS AND A BIG TEENAGE FLEDGLING

The things that go on in my backyard. My word. The birds have relationships! And babies! My wounded three-legged squirrel is beginning to look healthier, albeit one of his rear legs is not working. He does seem to be managing, though. He climbs all the way up to the deck where he gets good eats, usually twice a day (early in the morning, just before dark in the evening) and water to drink. His tail is regrowing. I’m sorry his rear leg is not healing better, but it does not seem to be infected. There was also a patch on his coat that had been torn out, but that’s growing back too. It’s the bad foot that worries me, but I’m glad to see that he is able to climb all the way up to the deck for a couple of meals a day. That may mean he will survive the winter. And maybe the winter won’t be too bad.

Mama Orange Cardinal – From the feather-color point of view, she looks like a boy, but she is much smaller than the boys. And she hangs out with the fledglings and does motherly bird things.

When the wounded squirrel took off and the tiny chipmunk left, the Orange Cardinal family came for a visit. I’m not actually sure which of the adults is male and female. I’m assuming the one I saw today was Mama because her baby was almost as big as she was and she was doing motherly things to her I’m sorry to say this, but ugly gawky baby. Of all the baby anythings, baby birds are the least adorable. They grow up to be lovely, but my oh my, what plug ugly fledgling. I can only hope this is a “baby swan” thing and one day, this baby will plume into a gorgeous adult.

This may be the second set of fledglings because there were some other very young babies about four or five weeks ago. My current thought is that the current mom of this set of fledglings is daughter of the original big male Orange Cardinal and she bred back to him to produce these eggs. This isn’t unusual with Cardinals since big males collect the ladies and try to keep them to himself. They are highly territorial and one of the interesting things to see are two male cardinals who have accidentally or intentionally flown into the others’ territory. They fight in the air like the airplanes of World War I. It’s quite amazing to see.

I didn’t see Orange dad today, but this is the first day I haven’t seen him. He comes and goes every day. He has a knack for vanishing as soon as I find my camera, but one of these mornings I’ll get him. Time is on my side. Dad has become more red than orange, but his offspring — and I think the current new mom is one of his offspring from earlier in the season. Birds interbreed these days. Maybe it’s lack of a larger flock. I got some interesting pictures and in a few of them, you can see the development of color in the feathers. The Mama Orange Cardinal doesn’t look like a normal Cardinal female. She is a much more solid color than the ladies usually are.

OCTOBER IS JUST STARTING, BUT IT FEELS OVER

A Photo a Week Challenge: October

Usually we get all the leaf color changes in October, but this year, because of the drought, it showed up in September. So although this is the beginning of October, the color and the pictures come from September. Anyway, it’s only the second of the month, so the likelihood of our having gotten outside to take pictures is pretty small.

The other night we had a rain and wind storm and most of the leaves blew down off the trees. It will be interesting to see if winter comes early too.

SEPTEMBER’S FINAL PHOTO

Last photo for September 2020bushboys world

This has been the kind of year where when it finally leaves, we’ll double-lock the door behind it. Please, 2020, don’t come back!

I tend to leave my last CD card in the reader until I have a new one with which to replace it. So I always know what my final picture for the month was because the CD is still in the reader. Let’s see what it was. Ah, one of the batch I never got around to processing. I meant to get to them, but I didn’t … so here’s a yellow tree the day before the wind and the rain steal the colors away.

EARLY FOLIAGE ON OUR ROAD AND A STRANGE CONVERSATION

We went down to the river today because usually, the brightest colors of the season are along the water. You can often tell where the water is from a distance. Look for the scarlet and orange maple trees. This time, though, there was far more color on our own non-river street than along the river. Of course the river is always beautiful and I had an interesting discussion with a man with whom I absolutely disagreed about pretty much everything. But sometimes, a civilized discussion with someone you don’t agree with can be interesting. He was definitely more Trumpian than Bidanesque, though I’m not sure he was wedded to either of them. Nonetheless, he was civil and interested in my camera which is always a way to my heart.

It’s his theory that because our government (such as it is) is giving $20,000 for everyone who dies of COVID in a hospital, everyone who dies is dying of COVID. Insurance companies are incredibly corrupt. Not counting the pharmaceutical companies who are a close second but I’ll go with the insurance companies. They are the classic “take your money and give you nothing in return” corporations. If you have ever read your home insurance policy, you will discover that short of your entire house burning to the ground or being crushed by a falling tree, everything else is YOUR problem. I start to grind my teeth just thinking about it.

So it was an interesting conversation until Garry reminded me that we needed to get home. Dog to feed. Dinner to cook. All that stuff. Besides, I was talking to a man “in the wild” and Garry still has that weird jealous thing which is pretty cute at our ages.

Our house in the autumn of the year

But it was an interesting conversation and while I don’t believe that the media — all of it — are all lying. It’s hard to believe that when your husband and all his friends are or were part of the media and all of them are absurdly honest to a fault. Sometimes enough to make you crazy. On the other hand, I have no trouble believing that the desperately poor hospitals and permanently hungry insurance companies wouldn’t up the numbers of COVID dead because they really need the money. It could be true.

It could be false, too. The problem is, at a time when we urgently need the truth, where is the truth? Who knows the truth? Someone knows it, but I’m pretty sure I’m not one of them.

THE CHANGING SEASON – AUGUST 2020

The Changing Seasons, August 2020

So here we are with summer about to end. It’s Labor Day next weekend. Time to start school. Oh, wait, there is no school. Well, maybe there will be so crunchy leaves underfoot, if only we would get some rain. Everything is so terribly dry.

Personally, I’m a total nervous wreck. This whole refinance business is driving me crazy. My family seems to have the utmost confidence that we are going to be fine. They are sure I’ll manage to make this work while I’m in mortal terror that there will be a last minute glitch and we’ll be left with a complete disaste. I’m absolutely terrified. And apparently, the only one who is. How did THAT happen?

I haven’t taken a lot of pictures. Birds, mostly. Squirrels and red squirrels now. We seem to have more red ones than big gray ones which is very unusual since the red ones are being pushed out by the bigger grays. I put out dishes of water for the birds and squirrels these days because the rivers are running dry and it’s a long fly to the nearest water. It’s also apple season. This area is full of apple orchards, but there has been so little rain. Hard to know if we are going to get much of a crop without water.

I have a lot of trouble understanding people who don’t see the changes in the climate. Warm winters, bone-dry summers, no snow in winter, autumn vanishing almost entirely. We never did get much in the way of spring, but we used to get at least a few weeks of autumn and we always got a real winter. Now? We get sharks. Lots of sharks. Those warm coastal water attract seals and the seals attract sharks. Speaking of sharks, we got a new boiler. Now, all we need is a refinance to finish paying for it. If we run out of money, will they take the boiler back?

New boiler

And of course, no one goes anywhere. We don’t. We are the people the virus for whom the virus searches. We are ready-to-go victims. It’s a horrible way to feel. Sometimes I swear I can hear this unseen plague stalking us. It’s just a stupid virus. Not even a living thing, so how can it stalk us? Yet we feel stalked. I wonder if there will ever be a normal world again.

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About The Changing Seasons

The Changing Seasons is a monthly challenge where bloggers around the world share what’s been happening in their month.

If you would like to join in, here are the guidelines:

The Changing Seasons Version One (photographic):

Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery that you feel represent your month
Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.
Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so that others can find them.

The Changing Seasons Version Two (you choose the format):

Each month, post a photo, recipe, painting, drawing, video, whatever that you feel says something about your month

Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material! Note that this may be harder for those of us who are still quarantined! If it weren’t for birds, I wouldn’t have anything to take pictures of!

Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so others can find them.

If you do a ping-back to Su Leslie’s post, she can update it with links to all of your links.

ALWAYS AUTUMN

Fandango’s Dog Days of August #28: LOVING AUTUMN


New England has always been the best place in the world to see the colors of Autumn. We have always had “bad” autumnal years. There can be too much rain or an early snow in September or early October. A hurricane or serious nor’easter can blow the autumn leaves from the trees or wash them away.

The Blackstone River in the fall

The region which we live is usually the best place among many great places in New England, probably because we have more than 70% trees. Also, there is the beautiful Blackstone River and its tributaries running through it. Twisting and turning from it’s birth up in the Worcester hills until it exits into the ocean in Rhode Island.

The canal is most prolifically covered with fallen leaves
Stone bridge over the river and canal in Autumn

For the past two years, we’ve barely had any kind of autumn. It stayed warm so late into the year, the leaves just turned brown and fell off. In 2018, we got about three days of autumn and last year, we got one day. Maybe it was a day and a half. I love autumn for its colors and the crisp, cool weather. I would like fall back again. I want the season. Even a couple of weeks. Please?

#FDDA – Dog Days of August

SUMMER? FEH.

5 Things I Hate About Summer


I lived for 9 years in Jerusalem. It’s hot in Israel and temperatures, during a bad chamseen, could hit 110 or more. A chamseen is a sand-filled wind that blows up from the Sahara. It’s more humid than normal hot Israeli air and the air is full of sand, so the air is both superheated, humid, and gritty. The word means “fifty” because supposedly the chamseen comes and stays for 50 days.

My home in Baka, Jerusalem

A chamseen leaves a ton of dirt behind it. Piles of Sahara sand blew 5,000 miles to make a mess of my home. When it was “normal” summer and not chamseen, it was just plain hot. Very few places other than hotels and some businesses had air conditioning because when you came into the shade from the sun, the temperature would drop 30 or 40 degrees and there was almost always a breeze at night

There was no autumn. One day it was summer and you were sitting outside looking at the solid deep blue sky. Suddenly, you saw a line of clouds marching across the sky and every woman raced home to take in the dry laundry. I don’t think I ever saw a man run to take in laundry. After that, it would rain a lot and occasionally but rarely, snow.

I missed Autumn and winter. But spring was lovely. By February, the almond trees would bloom in the hills and by May you could feel summer settling in. But through June, there were still some days that were cool and comfortable.

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When I came back here in August 1987, I had completely forgotten what summer in New England is like. The heat and the humidity. The feeling when you open a door, that you are diving into hot soup. Even if you don’t have breathing problems, no one can breathe in that dense, wet, hot air. In the spring, that hot wet air is also full of pollen, so I feel like I need an oxygen cylinder.

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Even though i complain about winter, over all, it beats out summer. Especially THIS summer. Even with slippery sidewalks and wondering how we are going to manage to plow that driveway again. Even if we have to shovel the roof before it collapses. I would love Autumn all year round, though. The cool and nippy parts of autumn, maybe two weeks of serious winter and snow, then a long soft spring which goes directly into autumn

What do I like about summer? Not having to plow the driveway. No need for oil deliveries. Also, I can usually breathe.

LIVING THROUGH A DROUGHT

It hasn’t rained in weeks and it has been very hot. The trees are dropping green leaves which is a very unhealthy sign for the trees. It means that the roots are dying and many of these trees will die and not come back in the spring. The forsythia are turning brown. The rivers are so low the fish are dying. The herons have flown to deeper rivers. I try not to worry about water and our well. It’s a deep well and anyway, worrying about it isn’t going to make it rain. Maybe we need to organize a special dance?

72-Trees-Canal-082216_61

The entire state of Massachusetts currently holds a status of extreme or severe drought. We’ve had less than 5 inches of rain here in central Massachusetts. Areas around Boston and northward into New Hampshire have had an inch less … around 3.75 inches. That’s very little water. Dangerously little water.

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If you’d like to see an interactive “drought map,” here is a LINK. Other states in New England are also dry, but as far as I can tell, Massachusetts is overall, the most dry, although there are areas of New Hampshire, Maine, and New York which are also very hard hit.

For inexplicable reasons, the river has more water in it than it did last year at this time. Maybe whoever controls the water locally decided to give our fish, fowl, and other wildlife a chance to survive. Last year, they had nowhere to nest, and pretty much no food in the dry ponds and rivers.

72-Reflection-Canal-082216_08

I love the river and I miss the birds. I haven’t seen a goose, a heron, a swan, or even a duck this entire summer. Of course, we haven’t been out much, but we do hear about it on the news and they’ve been taking a lot of pictures of dried out rivers all over the state.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

We’re burning up. As I see the first tenth tropical storm of the year heading for Florida, I can’t help but hope it stays a mere storm and brings its precipitation up our way. We really need water.

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There is, I might add, nothing more futile and frustrating than worrying about the lack of rain. You can’t do anything about it. Nothing. We have zero control over weather. Fretting about that over which we have no control is mind-destroying and considering the rest of our  worries, adding one more doesn’t seem sensible … but it’s hard to not worry.

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Nonetheless, I worry about the well. And the aquifer. I have nightmares about drought. Because if our well goes dry, we have no other water source. Neither do our neighbors.

THE CHANGING SEASONS IN A WEIRD AND CHANGING WORLD – JULY 2020

The Changing Seasons: July 2020

It’s not just about pictures anymore. It’s about energy … finding enough of it to actually take pictures which look exactly like the pictures you took last month because you are still at home, so the plants may be a bit bigger and the woods greener, but essentially you are taking the same pictures. Again. I’m also suffering from a bad case of the blahs. It’s like a bummer, but without the enthusiasm.

Duke the First

Duke is now “the dog.” it’s very strange to have just one dog. We’ve always had at least two and I feel that Duke needs a pal. I’m sure he misses the terriers. We certainly do. I’ve done a little investigating, but adopting a dog these days costs more that buying Bonnie from a breeder! I understand that adoption groups have big expenses, but basically, this puts getting pets out of the reach of many people, including us.


That has been some month. With the exception of a short visit to Tom and Ellin, life has been much the same — not counting filling out mountains of papers to get a refinance and dealing with the boiler — yes, we STILL need a boiler — and the back of the house because it’s still a mess back there. And for those of you that live in pot-friendly states? Get rid of it before the appraiser comes. Because federally speaking? It’s STILL ILLEGAL.

Don’t ask. My brain is totally fuddled. Not be-fuddled. Just fuddled.

I keep thinking one day the world will be normal, but I no longer am sure what normal actually means. We weren’t really normal before we got this abnormal. We thought we were normal, or, more to the point, most of us were paying very little attention to the base realities of life in this country. Some of us are at an age when we feel we have done as much as we could do and we don’t really want to do a lot more. I was thinking last night about writing a book because for the first time in some years, I had an idea for a story about how somehow, in 2020, we wound up on an alternative earth where things look like they used to look, but they really aren’t the same things.

On a positive note, we still have a house to live in and we still have whatever money we used to have arriving on schedule. It may not be enough money, but compared to so many other people, we’re downright wealthy. Not rich enough to do what we need to do, but at least we have a home and with a little luck, we get to keep living in it.


About The Changing Seasons


The Changing Seasons is a monthly challenge where bloggers around the world share what’s been happening in their month.

If you would like to join in, here are the guidelines:

The Changing Seasons Version One (photographic):

  • Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery that you feel represent your month
  • Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.
  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so that others can find them.

The Changing Seasons Version Two (you choose the format):

  • Each month, post a photo, recipe, painting, drawing, video, whatever that you feel says something about your month
  • Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!
  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so others can find them.

If you do a ping-back to this post, so Su Leslie can update it with your link.

DURRELL’S MISSION IS IN JEOPARDY – SAVE THE WILD, SAVE THE ZOO!

I don’t usually publish donation ads, but this particular one is near and dear to my heart. I read Gerald Durrell’s books when I was a kid and continued reading them into adulthood. From him I learned about saving rare and nearly extinct species. His stories helped me become increasingly involved in wildlife. I owe a lot to Gerald and his whole family.

They made a mini-series about him and his family (his brother was Lawrence Durrell) and their life on the isle of Corsica. I think it was made by the BBC and it has been shown on Acorn and and PBS.

I have always tried to send them any bit of money I could dig up and today, I figured somehow I could swing $25. I hope that many people will help them. Without tourism, they have no means of support. The lives of many rare animals depends Durrell’s Zoo, one of the places I always wanted to visit.

Durrell Zoo on Jersey

From all at Durrell’s HQ in Jersey, we hope that this email finds all our friends in America staying safe and well during these times of global upheaval.


These have been very unsettling times, and despite our hardest efforts, the present pandemic is having a devastating effect on the income of Durrell, and we need your help.

Our global conservation work, and 61-year history of saving species and habitats from the brink of extinction, is in real danger due to the impact of the pandemic on Jersey Zoo.

Jersey Zoo is the heartbeat of Durrell. All of the Trust’s global conservation work is underpinned by the zoo.

Despite having reopened the gates to our zoo on the 12th May, we are still facing an 80% reduction in income, given our unique position of being dependent on travel and tourism.

We are facing the impact of at least 18 months without tourists visiting Jersey. It is always challenging to run a zoo on an island with a catchment of just over 100,000 people. With no tourists able to visit, and islanders that are still fearful of COVID-19 and venturing out, the challenge is proving too much at the moment.

This situation is having a devastating effect on the income of our charity. A large portion of our income is raised through Jersey Zoo, so quite simply, if the zoo fails, the whole of Durrell fails.

Given our shared passion for Durrell and the environment, I know you wouldn’t want this to happen. But the future is looking bleak, so I need to ask for your help now, more than ever before.

VISIT THE WEBSITE! THERE IS SO MUCH TO SEE.

We have been so moved by supporters asking how they can help us at this uncertain time, that we have launched a campaign called Love Your Zoo, where those who are able to can help us by donating and contributing to the care of our animals.

It costs us $5,200 per day to care for the 1,285 animals at Jersey Zoo, so gifts of any size really do mean so much. If you can, are you able to share your love of Durrell and make a donation today?


DONATE NOW


 For our supporters in America, donations can be made through American Friends of Durrell, which is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, established in 2014 to facilitate contributions to Durrell.

I am sorry not to be writing with better news, but I am hoping that together we can prevent the worst scenario from happening, and ensure the future for Durrell.

Best wishes,

Lee Durrell
President
American Friends of Durrell

Source: Durrell’s mission is in jeopardy

 

PICK ME UP AND WINTER’S DAMAGE – GARRY ARMSTRONG

GARRY SEEKS SPRING IN UXBRIDGE

He hiked up the driveway, initially to bring down the trash can and pick up the mail, but he took a camera. It was a lovely day. There have been some lovely days, but very few last an entire day. Usually, the “good” day lasts part of the morning with sunshine and warmth leaving shortly after lunch. Then comes the afternoon with darkened skies and a lost sun.

The front woods and a lot of broken trees
Note wires. Note trees. Note likely disaster.

The broken branch lying over an electric line has been that way for a week, but apparently, they don’t have time to fix it because it hasn’t broken the line yet. It will. It sill take down the whole neighborhood. Nonetheless, it hasn’t done it yet. It would take them ten minutes to fix it now and it will we a catastrophe soon enough, but they can’t afford the ten minutes. I suppose I can call a third time.

They have records of my first two calls, but no one has bothered to even check on it. Owen has a pole saw, but it’s not long enough to reach the branch, so it will have to be a National Grid truck.

Rhododendrons have taken over for the roses,.
The road with hints of leaves to come
You can see that our Japanese Maple is in full leaf. It’s the first to grow leaves and the last to lose them.
I know there were flowers here, but I’m not sure what they were. I think there may be daffodils trying to bloom.

Called National Grid for the third time. They’ll get right on it. Major storm predicted for tomorrow night. I think we should get the candles ready.