As I write this, the trees, in their preparation for winter, are at peak color and are a brilliant warning for us to do the same.
It’s been a long, drawn out explosion of color this year, with the brilliant gold of the tamaracks yet to be the grand finale.
The juncos and sparrows are moving through now on their journey south for the winter.
Yet, I am still being bit up by mosquitos and black flies.
The good news is, like last fall, I am not seeing the hordes of lady beetles.
In a couple weeks, the northern ducks will be coming through – if they show at all this year – and the bucks will start chasing does.
A few days back, on a cool cloudy day, I observed a band-winged meadowhawk perched on a rock next to our walkway. It sat there motionless all day, for being cold-blooded it could do nothing but wait to see if it warmed up enough to fly again or this would become its last resting place if it stayed cool. Its young in a nymphal stage are in the bottom of a nearby lake, pond or stream waiting to emerge in the spring.
I’ve also been seeing a few last butterflies. Some will overwinter as adults by hiding out in a brush pile or crack in the bark of a tree and be the first we see next spring. Others overwinter as a chrysalis, or even eggs.
Some frogs, like the wood frog, have an antifreeze-like substance and literally thaw out in the spring to sing for mate.
Turtles are headed to deep lakes and ponds to spend the winter under the ice. They rely on stored oxygen and uptake oxygen from the pond by moving it across body surfaces that are flush with blood vessels.
The beavers are busy storing up a feed pile that they will live on throughout the winter.
The chipmunks will hibernate in a deep burrow, as do the raccoons and bears.
I think we, too, used to partially hibernate and that’s why I’m so tired during the short days and long nights of winter.