Signs of a season change begin to materializeThe change of season is upon us as signs of the slide into fall manifest itself.
The change of season is upon us as signs of the slide into fall manifest itself.
Autumn doesn’t officially arrive, however, until Sept. 23, which is termed the autumnal equinox. On this day the day light hours are equal to the nighttime ones. Ever since June 21, the first day of summer, the days have become shorter leading to Dec. 22, which is the start of winter and the shortest day of the year.
As the seasons change, certain natural occurrences can be observed which are harbingers of things to come.
In the last few weeks, we have noticed an increase in the purple flowers of spotted knapweed along the roads and ditches indicating progression into the autumn season. Spotted knapweed is a rather pretty flowering plant but is considered an invasive species and a pioneer type which can propagate profusely and out-compete other native plants. It has a tap root that sucks up water, produces lots of seeds and has few predators that prefer it as forage. It also secretes a toxin that prevents other plants from growing near it.
Another species that flowers this time of the year is Queen Anne’s Lace. This also can be considered an invasive species but is usually not as much of a problem as knapweed. It is also called wild carrot and supposedly our garden carrots are derived from them. The flowering white heads of this interesting plant will fold up into a ball and produce a unique blossom toward the end of its lifespan.
Sweet white and yellow clovers are flowering up along the roadsides and fields indicating change is in the air. Another invader species, these are also very prolific and can overtake many of our native grass and prairie species.
Most of the local robins that have spent the spring and early summer in this area have now left to migrate south. There are still a few around and some will even over-winter in this area. It is remarkable that the majority of these birds arrive early only to endure some late spring snowstorms just for a chance to stake out prime nesting areas. Over many generations of robins, this time frame has provided the best reproductive niche for them, guaranteeing a viable future.
Redwing blackbirds, starlings and grackles are flocking together to make their way southward. Most other bird species are hitting the backyard feeders hard, putting on fat to allow them the energy for those long treks to warmer climates.
The area deer are experiencing a change in appearance due to the loss of their rich, red summer coats gradually being replaced by their brown, dense winter pelage. The spots on some of the earlier fawns are also starting to fade.
Everywhere one looks, things are constantly changing over the entire year. The season changes are what make this part of the county such a beautiful place to live.
Deer Fly Helmet
With all the rain and humidity we have experienced this summer, the biting insects have had a reproductive hay-day. Mosquitoes’ populations have exploded. Incessant deer fly attacks have made even the shortest walk in the woods a most unpleasant experience.
Applying bug spray or other repellants have always been a messy chore with unpredictable results. Too much spray leads to irritated skin and reddened eyes. A sticky film, on sweating skin, leads to misery.
Now comes a revolutionary breakthrough. A friend of mine, Jack Rasmussen from Baldwin, recently came up with a unique way to combat the formidable deer fly attack. This is an excerpt from an email I received from him.
Jack writes: “I thought I would share my remedy for relief from the nasty population of deer flies this year. Since wearing it while walking around the trails in the woods, I have been totally relieved. No dive-bombing, just one try and they get stuck. If deer flies bother you as they do me, I suggest you also make one. Basically, it is a blue hard hat (or painted blue) that is smeared with a coating of “Tandlefoot.” As you walk, the areas of the hard hat fill up with deer flies. When saturated with flies, use a wide putty knife to scrape them off. I get two runs for each coating. Good luck!”
What a novel solution to an age old problem.
Northern Wisconsin Storms
This storm season has been unusually severe for several areas in northern and northwestern Wisconsin. High winds, tornadoes and heavy rains have all contributed to a situation that has caused major property damage, natural destruction and even loss of life.
What has concerned me most about this dire situation is the lack of press, radio and TV coverage we get in this area concerning things that occur here. The majority of the coverage we receive is from the Twin Cities stations and, in most cases, reports stops at the St. Croix River.
In recent conversations with several friends who live in some of the areas hit hard in Burnett County, Polk County and counties further to the east, the damage has been unbelievable. Thousands of acres of forest land have been destroyed and work crews are still working seven days a week to try to get things cleared up and back to normal. In some cases it will be years before things even resemble normality.
Any help we can provide our neighbors to the north in the affected areas would be greatly appreciated. Next time it could be us that need the help.