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Date:11/22/2014 3:46:59 PM
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Between Autumn and Summer
Now last year I wrote about the "The Sounds of Autumn" in which I described how the birdsong has ceased for the year and the crickets and katydids were the chief noisemakers. Last week, as I sped home from work along the interstate at almost 70 mph, with the windows open of my rusty old pickup, I could hear above the roar of the wind, the chorus of crickets in the tall swampland grasses along the borders.

The Autumn roadside flowers are in bloom. Goldenrod is in full bloom, about three weeks later than last year. The asters, New England, Fall, and Fleabane varieties, are all in bloom. If I identified them correctly, I saw woodland sunflowers where engineers had cleared away the trees along the roads. In addition, the nighthawks are on their southward migration. They can be seen each evening for the next week or so on their annual southward migration.

Patrick Durkin, the wildlife editor in our local Green Bay Press-Gazette, wrote an excellent article on these migratory herbivores just last Sunday. This caused me to check out the clear evening skies that night and lo and behold, the nighthawks were out! Mr. Durkin wrote about how the nighthawk population has been going down that last few decades. One reason is that urban habitat has been eliminated, specifically the flat-topped business buildings. The other is that insecticides have reduced the available food supply. (Insecticides could also be the reason for the collapse of the honey-bee population as well) All I know is that thirty years ago, I would see the skies filled with nighthawks at this time of year. I will be sure to survey the evening skies each night for the next week or so and see how the numbers add up.

Now, as I've quoted before, Hal Borland wrote, "I don't need a geophysicist to tell me when Autumn begins." Up here at the 45th parallel in Northeast Wisconsin, Autumn has begun. Still, the riot of Summer harvest still rages. I still must pick cucumbers and green beans; Lord, I brought over half a pail of beans over to the neighbors today because I had no time to freeze them for myself! I still have at least one more picking of sweet corn left in the garden and tonight we had my Ruthie's killer stuffed green peppers. (As I might've mentioned before, they are to die for!) There's a dozens of peppers still ready to be picked, the Beacon apples are ready to be picked, and my Norland potatoes need to be dug as well. You can decide, if you like, which are Summer's harvest and which are Autumn's, but I am scrambling to do both. Yes, Autumn has begun, but Summer has left me much to do. --Gary
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