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June 08, 2003

A Little Place Blogging, for Fred

It's rained here 12 of the last 15 weekends. Of the three clear weekends, we were gone for two and having a baby on the other one. The area as a whole is nearly 12 inches over normal for the year. (Thanks to Newmark's Door for the link.) This time last year we were in a drought.

I'm finding I preferred the drought, despite the whole "Oh my god there's going to be water riots and we're all going to die" vibe the Sainted Wife kept giving off. A lawn that crackles when you walk on it is annoying, but a lawn that wells up between the toes with every step is worse. Ngnat used to think "barefoot walking" on the lawn was a treat. Now she stays in the garage and draws what looks like an endless series of chalk jellyfish on the cement.

"I like your jellyfish." I told her last night. "Are they the ones from Spongebob?"

"They're men," she said to me indignantly.

All the rain has also been bad for the tomato plants, but good for mushrooms, the now brilliantly blue hydrangeas and the wildlife. The grass in the yard has been overrun with hundreds of little frogs, appropriately known as Pseudacris ocularis, the....Little Grass Frog. Small snakes seem to be the frog's main threat, so I'm hoping to run across a bumper crop of them soon. Meanwhile, there are an inordinate number of flat little silhouettes decorating the driveway.

There was also a 10 or 12 pound snapping turtle crawling through the remains of the garden the other day, one of the few I've ever seen close up. It was at least a mile from a body of water large enough to support it. Ngnat and I crouched in front of him, and I warned her to stay away from turtles with bumpy backs while I held a stick out as bait. The snapper's strike was so swift I involuntarily jerked. The stick snapped, Ngnat burst into tears, and the snapper went on its grouchy way.

I may have put her off turtles for good.

I took a couple of snapper pics, but with Mom's digital camera rather than my own, so until she mails them I can't post them. Don't think they were that good to begin with; given the height of the grass it was in, good camera range was uncomfortably close to being within striking range.

The rain seemingly has affected the normal food supply for the birds in the area as well. I would think that more rain equals more bugs to feed on, but there's a steady traffic at the feeders. I've seen mockingbirds at the suet feeder for the first time in...ever, as well as pair of bluebirds with two fledglings desperately demanding food. Flickers and Red Bellied Woodpeckers have joined them, then flown to the top of the chimney to announce their presence and mark their territory by drumming on the hollow metal cover at the top. It's very resonant, so they use it often. I keep hoping the Red headed and Pileated woodpeckers I've seen in the bottomland behind the house will join them, at least at the feeder, but no luck so far. A Pileated would probably sound a like a jackhammer if they ever did drop by, damn things were the size of crows.

The hummingbird feeder also ran dry in less than a week for the first time I can recall. There's a little male who perches on the deckrail underneath almost all day long, guarding it from interlopers. I've seen dogfights so acrobatic they'd put dolphins to shame in the four by four area around the feeder. Males will come in to be chased away by the resident male, and while the guard is off chasing them a female drops in, to be chased off in her turn by the resident female. I can't see how they find the time to breed and raise a brood, they seem to spend most of the day guarding the sugar water.

The old wives tail isn't true, though. Hummingbirds can't fly between rain drops. I was out on the covered part of the deck yesterday and saw a big fat one hit the male dead amidships. He bounced like God's tiniest basketball and kept on, seemingly none the worse for his drenching. He landed on the rail, shook his head like a dog and cursed.

"I know what you mean." I told him. "Bloody weather."

Posted by Bigwig at June 8, 2003 11:12 PM | TrackBack
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