Atop Hawk Mountain, Pa., 2010

Atop Hawk Mountain, Pa., 2010
Photo by R.E. Berg-Andersson

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Summer in December

The birds come to the seed feeder - titmice, chickadees, white-breasted nuthatches and the occasional cardinal. If I'm lucky, a hairy or downy woodpecker will appear at the suet feeder. My presence on the enclosed porch is keeping the house finches and the horde of house sparrows at bay - the way I like it.

Blackcapped chickadee (Margo D. Beller)
I am blaring Santana into my ears to block out the lawn service - on a Sunday! - blowing the bits of leaves it didn't get last week off a neighbor's lawn, and my next door neighbor, who is screaming as loudly with delight as her toddlers.

If it wasn't for the fact it's dark by 5 pm you'd think it was summer. As I write, in mid-December, it is over 70 degrees in my part of New Jersey.

If there is one word I've used in the past few years to describe the weather pattern, it is "unnatural." Last year at this time we had a Thanksgiving snow storm in New Hampshire and then came weeks of intense, unrelenting cold back home in New Jersey. We learned a new phrase - polar vortex.

Now we've gone in the other direction. It is still not natural. It should not be 70 degrees now. I admit, it is a relief to not be shivering under several quilts and wearing four layers of clothes, keeping myself to my south-facing office. However, I get the feeling Mother Nature will say, "That's enough now, time for reality to return" and hit us with nor'easters, snow 6 inches deep and high temperatures in the single digits.

On the plus side, I can keep water out overnight for the birds. I can turn the dry and dusty heat off and keep a window open at night. But the bears are still out there seemingly unaffected by the longer bear hunt that started this year. I don't have to put the feeders out every day, but when I do they must still come in at night. If I take a walk in the woods I know I won't be finding any warblers or other summer birds because they left weeks ago.

December as I remember it - cardinal (Margo D. Beller)
I know winter is coming. It always comes. After much delaying I forced myself to winterize my gardens - extra deer netting over the fencing in the front garden and burlap on the back fencing. At some point it will get "seasonably" cold and hungry deer will be desperate. I don't want them interested in my evergreen shrubs.

At this point I could say something about global warming or climate change, and the new agreement hammered out by over 100 countries in Paris that likely won't be ratified by a Republican U.S. Congress in bed with industry and against any agreement worked out by our current Democrat in the White House.

But why bother - that would just solidify my image as a grouch, a Cassandra, some old woman who should play outside, grill a steak and wear shorts and flip-flops like my (younger) neighbors instead of fleece and enclosed shoes. Lighten up! You only live once!

Yeah, man. Don't I know it.

So bring on the 5 pm darkness that will send me, the lawn services and the parents and toddlers inside. Bring on the cold already. I'm ready for winter, if winter ever gets ready for me.