Friday, November 15, 2013

Nature is Changing

It's going to be in the upper 50's this week and in the 60's this weekend. The temps used to be like this... every month it would cool off about 10 degrees a month and then as spring approached it would warm up about 10 degrees a month, peaking in temperature in August. There would be warm days or cool days occasionally but that was the norm. But I have been noticing that the temps are getting not a few degrees warmer all year round but ten degrees warmer all year round. This temperature rising has been happening every year. When my mother was a young woman the small but deep lake in Michigan froze over by November. It froze over so completely with ice so thick by December that the mailman would drive across the lake to make the few deliveries on the other side, instead of trying to get down the roads that would be covered with 5-6 feet of snow. Not snow drifts but snow. 

In my lifetime people didn't drive cars over it but snowmobiles went out over the frozen lake in November and the men would break up the monotony of the long winter months by going ice fishing. In my lifetime the lake did not freeze deep enough to hold the weight of the wind breaks and snowmobiles and a few times a fisherman died when the ice broke and his body wasn't found until the next spring. Now we are nearly at Thanksgiving and the lake isn't frozen at all. In fact, here we have had one real frost, where I woke up in the morning and the frost had not melted and had covered the leaves still left from the trees, which shed them very late this year. Were there days when it might be warm, some times though rarely. But not months. It is almost Thanksgiving and the fleas are still thriving. We had a bit of a slushy snow but nothing that really stuck to the ground.  I remember snowdrifts that were over ten feet high and longing for a warm day and waking up to icy sidewalks and bitter winds that made me bend over and layer my clothes and cover my face and neck and hands.  I remember when winter had not come for a visit but came for an extended stay, until spring, with maybe a brief January thaw around the third week of that month, by Thanksgiving.  The snow would be so deep that we often wondered if we would be able to get to our families or even get to a train to go see them that way.  The roads are clear and have been all fall.

Why is this noteworthy? Because when it snows and the ground gets cold and freezes it freezes seeds. And in the spring, around the roots, when the ice melts to water everything, including seeds begin to grow. Their roots have room to spread out and with the spring rain dirt is moved to fill in any empty spaces around the roots of the trees and bushes and grasses. This is important because it gives those things that grow out of the earth stability. So when we have big storms the trees aren't easily pulled out of the ground. The ground stays firmly around the roots of the tree and the tree continues to live.

We have gotten into a weather pattern where it rains seldom but when it rains it is constant and it may last for a few days. This causes flooding and weakens the grasp the trees and crops have in the ground that used to keep it stable.

Did you know squirrels have little squirrel babies in the spring and the end of the summer? I think this is because when they are very little and first out exploring the world, they can fall prey to hawks. This year for the first time I put out a pumpkin at the base of the tree. More will be laid at the base of all of the trees for them to feed on through the winter. But this year there weren't any of the mature squirrels to teach the young ones about the pumpkins. Not even my friend squirrel that trusted me with her young and used to sit on my lap and eat seeds and nuts out of my hand. I poked a good sized hole in the pumpkin so the scent of it would drift and entice the young squirrels to investigate. Which of course they did and now they are enjoying the pumpkin and bits of squash and seeds that I leave out for them. I have only seen my friend squirrels daughter from last year. Her markings are distinctive and though she remained shy, she remembers that if she sits in a certain tree and looks at my kitchen window, when I'm clanging around at the sink, that I will come out with something for her to eat. I wonder where they go? It seems odd.

Nature is changing.

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