On this very hot day in July, thoughts tend to turn more to cold showers than romance … but it will get better.
By Monday, the heat will break and then it will be a normal hot summer. Or, so we hope. Because the weather has not been anything like normal in quite a while and I wonder if it will ever be “normal” again.
We didn’t get a lot of it this year. It didn’t show up at all until March and it only lasted a week and a bit, but it rained and stormed almost continuously from February through this month. So our water table is doing fine.
Now that the Gypsy moth caterpillars have been spotted locally, we really need the rain — so of course, we have lovely, dry spring weather. The rain brings forth a little caterpillar killer bug that drops those caterpillars dead from the trees. But we need rain and a lot of it.
It’s as if the weather is rebelling. Whatever it is we want, we can’t have it. It’s not a lack of weather. It’s a lot of weather — at all the wrong times.
It’s funny to think about snow now. All I have on my mind are the hospital tests and getting finished with them. I think I’m about to (in late May and June) finally complete … and how doth the garden grow.
And how many squirrels are hanging on the bird feeder. Perhaps, as Stuart Templeton said yesterday, “Isn’t it great to see some birds on your squirrel feeders?”
Unsurprisingly, the feeders were filled last night and were nearly empty this morning. I was going to let the feeder run empty and try to convince the squirrels to do their own hunting, but if the caterpillars take over, there won’t BE any food to eat. Those nasty bugs strip the woods and everything goes hungry.
The Gypsy moths are an evil omen in an evil year. Last time, I survived by getting everything sprayed, but I don’t have the money this year — and I don’t even know what (if any) company is set up to to the work. No one was expecting them to come back so soon. They usually lay low for decades before making a return appearance.
If it gets ugly (and Garry is horribly allergic to these nasty critters), I’m going to hide inside and refuse to leave. Since our squirrels are always starving, can they be convinced to eat these guy? Except almost none of the birds will eat the big hairy caterpillars, but many will eat the egg masses they leave behind. We do have most of those birds here. On our deck.
Bring on the birdseed!
And, for what it’s worth, squirrels eat them too, even the caterpillars. So I guess we’re going to keep those feeders full!
More information from Mass Audubon Society and Pests.org:
Some native birds, such as cuckoos, downy woodpeckers, gray catbirds, and common grackles, will eat gypsy moth caterpillars but, unfortunately, not in large enough quantities to have an effect during an outbreak. White-footed mice, and occasionally gray squirrels, prey on gypsy moth larvae and pupae.
These little-known buggers can lay waste to entire forests and crops as they munch their way through the leaves and plants. Up until last year, the Gypsy Moth Caterpillar was not considered a big deal. Granted, they are still a problem when they infest your farm, but they had taken a backseat to other common pests. That is until some states (the northeast and especially Massachusetts) saw the worst Gypsy Moth infestation in more than 30 years.
NOTE: In 2016 and 2017 — here in the Blackstone Valley — virtually every hardwood and fruit-bearing tree were defoliated by the caterpillars), farmers started paying attention.
Some birds typically eat Gypsy Moths. Birds such as the Bluejay, catbird, blackbird (cowbirds ARE blackbirds), crows (we have them, though they don’t favor our woods) and such find these insects delicious.
Encourage these birds to visit your property to feed on these moths by not chasing them away when they come.
Our mailbox got beat up. Was it whacked by a teenager and a baseball bat or hit by a plow? Since we didn’t see it happen, it’s a guess. What we know it that it got mashed. Not just ours, but our neighbors and other people on the same route. The ground is still pretty hard, making putting in a new post difficult, but the post office refused to deliver mail without a mailbox.
Yet somehow, the mailbox got repaired. Not replaced, but fixed. Along with our neighbor across the street. Owen didn’t do it. I asked and he said no, he hadn’t repaired it, so either the neighbor did a secret repair … or the plow driver took responsibility and did it … or the post office did it … or some stranger did it. We are still going to need to do a proper repair. It’s not an expensive repair, mind you. $20 for a post and another $22 for a post box.
Voila! Ready for mail for at least another decade or two, depending on snowfall, plow, teenagers and garbage trucks who also have been known to back into mailboxes.
I’m betting on the guy across the street and the next time we see him, we’ll have to ask. We aren’t exactly friends, but we aren’t exactly not friends. We are the kind of “over the hedge” friends you become in New England. He gives us extra tomatoes (he grows beautiful tomatoes) and we are always very happy to get them.
We have watched his children grow from little kids to college graduates. I remember when our children (our grandchild, actually) took the same school buses. Time has flown!
And now another summer is lurking a few months in the future. It’s only March so it’s still cold but it will get warmer. Eventually, it will be spring, then summer. Before we have time to blink, winter will be back.
It seems to me the summer is when you race like mad to try and get everything done because there is very little time between the end of winter and winter’s return.
Weather is changing. Autumn is shorter. Summer is shorter and winter lasts longer. There is more rain, more ice, less snow. I don’t know what it means because New England is the kind of environment for erratic weather. Now it’s more erratic, but because it has always been strange. it is more strange, but what does it mean?
I’m sure it means something, but I’m not enough of a scientist to be able to tease the threads apart and make the right deductions. I simply know for the past two years, autumn has gone missing and we’ve had more rain and ice, less snow and more wind than I’ve ever seen. Which for New England IS unusual.
We have a very favorite meteorologist, Harvey Leonard, currently with Channel 5 (ABC), but previously a colleague of Garry’s for more than 30 years. He’s a great meteorologist and can tell you — really — pretty much what’s coming.
What he can’t tell you is exactly how much of what is coming you are going to get. Storms move faster or slower and winds push them east, west, north, or south — all of which changes your town’s “how much.” Also, your proximity to the ocean. More rain along the ocean, more snow piling up inland. We are not far from the ocean, but not close enough to get the wind from the sea. We get the other winds, the one that brings big white snow clouds.
He did say — repeatedly — that this was a big one. We were going to get a lot of snow, no matter where we were in New England. Or for that matter, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and all points north. He was figuring around a foot but upped it towards the end of the news because new maps were coming in.
We got more — as we typically do in the valley.
Eighteen-inches in our little town, so we are in this house until the plow shows up and digs us out. My son is at work and he says if the plow doesn’t show up at his place (same plow), he can’t go home because he has nowhere to put the car.
It’s not that the plow won’t show. He will. It’s just with this much snow on the ground, it’s going to be a long day. I’m pretty sure we are nowhere near the top of the list.
Usually, we get big snows and it warms up the next day and everything melts. Not this time. This time, the temperature is supposed to drop to around zero (-18 centigrade) for several days. Which means this snow is going to hang around, get icy and crunchy. And it’s not a light fluffy one, either. It’s, as Harvey put it, “like oatmeal.” I like the fluffy ones much better.
So we speculated and I do thing the last thing I said to Garry before drifting off to sleep was “Maybe it won’t be as bad as we think.”
I was wrong. We speculated. I’m glad we didn’t actually gamble on our speculations. We’d have lost money on big snow.
I’d have posted this earlier, but there were pictures to take and process. There are more, but I’m tired. The birds have cold feet.
This has been a very strange winter. Instead of what we usually get — mountains of snow accompanied by very cold weather — we got a tiny bit of snow, a fair amount of sleet, and a lot of rain and wind.
In a lot of ways, this is a good summary of this winter. A little snow, a lot of sleet, and when this picture was taken, 60 mph winds were blowing.
And of course, there were the birds. Two bird feeders, about 100 pounds of birdseed … and one Panasonic 4/3 telephoto 100-300 mm lens later …
Pair of Woodpeckers
Sharing the feeder – Lady Cardinal and Downy Woodpecker
Red Finch atop Toad
Junco and I think a House Finch
Junco atop the Toad
Sunshine on a lady Cardinal
Early morning squirrel
Red-bellied Woodpecker with a very pointy beak
Fluttering in the snow
And of course, our Christmas cactus that has been in more or less continuous bloom since Thanksgiving ..
And more pictures from Garry.
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.
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