Tag Archives: seasons

Crickets (From September)

Crickets

Other than Jiminy, crickets aren’t particularly glamorous bugs.  There are 900 species of crickets, including one that is two inches long.  Not all species of cricket make the chirping sound.  The ones that do have excellent hearing, with ears in their legs.  Yep.  In their legs.

It seems that the chirps are made by boys trying to meet girls.  They rub their legs together frantically to say “you-hoo!” to the ladies.  There are a lot of crickets around this time of year, so I guess it must work.

As far as I can tell, crickets are the only bugs that have a sport named after them.  That’s something.

When mid-August hits, and the crickets start to do their thing, it makes me a little sad.  Not because I can’t make that sound with my legs, no matter how I try, but because it means fall is nearly here.

Like a lot of insects, the population of crickets builds during the summer to a very large number.  So, their message of summer ending isn’t subtle.  And, as the days go along and the evenings get cooler, the crickets’ message of love gets slower and slower.  A very cool October evening features a chirp here and there.  It’s kind of sad, really.

What’s really frustrating is when a few of the little buggers slip into our houses, and spend weeks and weeks chirping at night, which is when we humans like to sleep.

Crickets aren’t the only harbinger of fall, of course.  About this time of year you’ll notice flies are very good at getting inside.  If you leave a car window open, they’ll be in there waiting for you.

We’ve also got the German wasps, otherwise known as pop-can bees.  At our house they make the biggest pest of themselves by feeding on the apples.

And, there are always the Asian beetles and box elder bugs.  They seem to ebb and flow in numbers, but they are a pain.  They also like to live inside, cooking themselves on electric light bulbs, leaving a horrible scent in the air.

There are also the wooly bear caterpillars in the fall.  If a bug can be cute, they are.  It is said that the size of the brown part in the middle of a wooly bear indicates the severity of the winter.  That may be true, or not.

Unfortunately, one summertime bug friend stays with us longer than we’d like.  Despite hard frosts, mosquitoes seem to have a way of staying alive to get in those last few bites of the season.

I hope you enjoy the cricket serenades on these late summer nights to come.  Just remember, they’re not serenading you.

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Summertime Heat

To Fan or Not to Fan

One thing that must be said about winter is that it is a good time to sleep.  There are no birds finding their voices at 5am, no sun coming up pre-maturely, and if you like a cool room, that’s generally no problem.

There are downsides too, of course.  Getting into a cold bed is pretty rough, but flannel sheets make that tolerable.  Getting up in the morning is also harder, because the bed is so warm and the air is so cold.

We just made our semi-annual switch from flannel to percale last night, signaling our optimism that the cold nights are over for the year.  However, it still feels nice to have a blanket or two on while we sleep, which causes the fan conundrum.

We live in an old house.  Our upstairs was once nothing more than a one-room loft, I’m sure.  The ceilings are quite low upstairs, so the idea of putting a fan up there brings up images of unfortunate decapitations.

So, we have tried a number of floor fans, ranging from the tall and slender multi-fan units to the “fan on a stick” type that can oscillate.

The problem is that both the air temperature and our body temperatures change through the night, so a fan might make us too cold or not cool enough.  A bigger problem, though, is the sound the fan makes.  It seems quiet enough, but there’s a chance one or both of us will wake up with a headache in the morning.

We are fortunate to have an air conditioner, but it mostly only works downstairs, and besides, it seems foolish to run that when the air outside is still pretty cool.

I’m thinking the best alternative is to buy one of those drones that has four helicopter-type rotors.  I can set it to hover over our bed, but to get out of the way if one of us gets up at night.   Better yet, how about some trained humming birds to fan us with their tiny wings?  Or how about half-naked natives fanning  us with enormous leaves?

The truth of the matter is that the fan conundrum is one of those problems you only have if you have a house and bed to sleep in, so it really isn’t a big deal.  It’s actually evidence that life is pretty good.

Maybe what we need to do is invest in some ear plugs.  That way we won’t hear the fan, the early birds, or any snoring that might take place.

Besides, winter will be along again before we know it.

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Garden Post-mortum

I have a piece of paper on the wall near my desk at work on which I printed photographs showing four views of our flower garden from last year.  (See a portion of one of them above.)  The pictures were taken at the peak of color, and nary a weed can be found.  The pictures were taken late afternoon on a beautiful sunny day.  The brick walkway looks great and the wooden bench looks very inviting.

Fast forward to, well, now.  The wood chip walkways have both weeds and volunteer flowers and plants growing in them.  Since the frosts, most of the flowers are dead or in the process of dying.  The brick walkway has weeds growing out of it, and the raspberries that are supposed to be outside of the flower garden have found their way into several of the beds.

 It’s a little frustrating to look at the flower beds now.  You see, last summer’s gardening work was mostly what kept me sane during a difficult time.  When last fall came, I was sad that the gardening season was over, but optimistic about the coming year.

Now the season I looked forward to is virtually done, and in some ways the garden has taken several steps backwards.  There are several reasons it didn’t turn out as well, but none of them are really important.  Well, maybe one: mosquitoes the size of crows.

As I look at the pictures by my desk, I have mixed feelings.  First, I’m pleased at how good the garden looked back when they were taken.  I’m also encouraged that next year can bring a Renaissance

I also realize that photographs aren’t always a true portrayal of reality.  I’m pretty sure that these pictures I see every day intentionally exclude some spots that were far from perfect, and focus in on areas that looked especially good.  It’s only human nature to do that, unless you’re an insurance adjuster or something.

Assuming more weeks of warmish weather, I’m looking forward to putting the flower garden and the vegetable garden to bed for the winter.  Sometime in a few months when the snow blankets over the yard, I’ll start thinking about the new season and things I want to change or improve.

Gardening is such an apt metaphor for so many things in life, including life itself, because it can be measured in seasons, and each one gives us the opportunity to make changes for the better.  And, like the rest of life, there are so many things a gardener can’t control, like heat, cold, rain, drought, and various insects and plant diseases.  Even if you do your best, things don’t always work out well.

I’m not sad that winter is coming, if only because it is a necessary step in the progression to another spring, and the first intoxicating scent of warm, moist soil.  Then the cycle of planting seeds, buying bedding plants, and pulling weeds will begin again.  With hard work and some luck, it will again be a photogenic garden like last year’s was.

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