Archive for October, 2023

Oct 25 2023

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Autumnal Color At Last

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It has been a strange year. A relatively mild winter ended with temps hitting 80 degrees in early April, and for a while there it looked like Vermont might be headed for a drought. Then the summer rains began and they didn’t stop. They climaxed with July flooding here and in other parts of the Northeast. Meanwhile the skies filled with smoke from Canadian wildfires.

Anyone with any sense knows why all this is happening – why the weather is so erratic these days. The climate of the entire planet is undergoing a radical change. But I have to admit, I didn’t think it would have an impact on Vermont’s annual display of eye-popping foliage.

Mild temps and all that rain has muted autumnal color in the Champlain Valley this year. Here it is the end of October, and we still haven’t seen a hard frost. That factors into the mix, certainly. But the seasons progress regardless, thanks to the passage of Earth around the Sun, so the trees are getting ready for winter. Consequently, splashes of leafy color have appeared in these lowlands, long after peaking in the mountains. In fact, the foliage is pretty much at peak in my back yard – a week or more later than usual.

I’ve already put the snow tires on my car, the sun now sets before 6 p.m., and the ladybugs are desperate to get indoors. But my little chipmunk buddy is still scurrying about, collecting food, and there’s a good chance I’ll be lounging comfortably on my patio tomorrow. Mixed signals to be sure. All the same when the wind blows the leaves come down. Winter is inevitable.

I suppose going with the flow is the thing to do. There’s no point getting all bent out of shape because the weather isn’t behaving the way it usually has in years, decades, centuries past. Early this morning, I poked my head out the door to get a good whiff of that dry-leaf smell of autumn and admire the fiery orange leaves in the treetops. And I smiled when a maple leaf floating down hit me squarely in the face. No harm, no foul. It’s that time of year, if only for a week or two before the first snow falls. Gotta love it.

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Oct 11 2023

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Acorn Madness

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With temps in the 50s and the sky full of clouds, I bundle up to sit on the patio and write some letters. I’ve been in something of a funk lately and want to share my dark thoughts about life, literature and what it all means with a few friends who can relate. But Chippy has his own agenda.

Chippy, the chipmunk that Judy and I have befriended during the past few years, wants more nuts. Winter is coming and he wants all the nuts he can get. Usually, I just ignore him after several handouts, then he goes foraging elsewhere. But recently Judy and I have brought home some acorns from a different location. Oh my… He can’t get enough of those.

Chippy is crazy about acorns. More acorns, Walt, more! He hops on my lap and gets into my face, giving me the stare that has so often led to one more handout, maybe two. I ignore him, or at least try to. I’m busy brooding. Can’t he see I’m how serious I am right now? But no, Chippy doesn’t care about my mood or my scribblings. Where are those acorns? He wants more acorns. He knows I have more. He knows I’m holding out.

I’m not quite sure how I got into this weird relationship with a little striped rodent. I keep telling myself that he’s still a wild creature. He’s not my pet, nor are we friends. But he has become quite comfortable with me over time and, I must admit, I like having him around. He reminds me that there’s more to life than deep philosophical speculation and the ol’ scribble, scribble. Like acorns, for instance. Acorns are very important.

So I stop what I’m doing and hand over the goods. He stuffs his cheeks with as many acorns as he can put in there, then heads for his burrow. But a few minutes later he’s back, wanting more. Can’t get enough of those acorns. Gotta have more acorns, he tells me in his own chipmunk way. Winter is coming. I don’t know what’s so special about acorns, but according to Chippy, they’re much better than peanuts. And Chippy knows a lot more about such things than I do.

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