Monday, October 19, 2015

Zen and the art of Squirrel - October

I have never been able to get a hang of October.  I know what it is, and I know it is just anther month in a long string of months that makes up the year, but I have never really been able to get a grip on October.

October is the month of restless sleep as my body tries miserably to make the transition from summer to winter.  Daylight savings has not expired yet and I am still used to staying up until about five hours before the sun comes up and sleeping in until about an hour or so after the sun rises.  In the summer this means going to be about eleven in the evening and waking up at about 6:30 in the morning.  On a weekend when I have nothing to do maybe I would stay up a little later and get up a little later, but once October comes this is a disaster.

Five hours before the sun comes up is about two thirty in the morning.  An hour after sunrise is like nine in the morning.  I have to turn my headlights on to go to work at seven thirty, but there isn’t snow on the ground yet.

I can’t justify the change.  The trees are all bare and the world around me is lifeless and dead, but the weather is still clinging on to the last bits of life until it expires in that first real snow.

Of course the first real snow is also coming later and later every year as the climate gradually warms.  If you are further south you do not see the changes that much, but up here in the hinterlands it is a lot more obvious.

We have actually warmed considerably, we still have enough variation so that we get the growing season ending cold snaps, but the first real snow is lucky to get here before thanksgiving these days.

Thanksgiving used to be when we would go out and chop a hole in the ice in the backyard to see if it was think enough to go skating on, it generally was.  The last several years we have been lucky to have any ice at all.

This does not make the squirrel very happy.

 The snow insulates the ground, it forms a blanket to keep the real bitter cold from penetrating deep into the soil.  It keeps the hard frost fro reaching the septic systems and the lairs of the little woodlands creatures.

The snow also forms a protective cover for travel.  The voles and the shrews dig along the top of the ground making little tunnels under the snow.  If the snow is deep enough they are perfectly safe down there, but if the snow is thin they are exposed and they are easy prey for foxes, cats, owls and the like.

Not that I have anything against foxes and owls, but cats can get their own food, in the dish, in the pantry.

October is a weird transition month, we are losing a couple of minutes of daylight a day while at the same time the weather is supposedly getting about half a degree cooler a day.  Except as of late, this month we had an 84 degree day about a week ago, and today it was 68 degrees.  This is Minnesota, this is not right.

By the end of the month we should be looking at our first real snowfall.  By November we should be on the lookout for the first real storm that drops enough snow and wind to snarl up traffic and tell people if they waited to long to get a good set of tires.

November comes with the storms, we are supposed to get some nasty Nor-Easters that bring bone-chilling winds off the lake and half a foot of driving snow.  I am supposed to head down to the piers and watch the boats, which will still be finishing off the shipping season, venture out into the lake and into the waves that will be tossing spray up over their bows and down the length of the hull.

I get the feeling that this will not happen this year.

Certainly not in October.

I don’t understand October, I just don’t get it.

I have on several occasions in the past nearly taken the month of October off from sleeping.  I just could not adjust.  I had too much on my mind, and the transition was hitting me hard.

Once there is a layer of snow I will be able to sleep like a rock.

But not yet.

I don’t like October.


I just don’t get it.

1 comment:

  1. But October is so important. It lets the trees finish withdrawing their pigments and shedding their leaves. It gives the squirrels and all the other animals time to go outside their normal range and eat and gather all the food they can. Seeds are dispersed and buried so they can grow in the spring. It also gives the birds time to migrate while they still have enough to eat while they do so.

    Snow does create a safe warm layer for all the little animals to live under but if it happens too soon they don't have the time they need to finish preparing for it. Skipping fall is a death sentence to many animals.

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