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Cold bug stew

>> Thursday, November 12, 2009

It's that wacky in-between time of year in Upstate New York.

Several times now I've received a vaguely amusing e-mail forward called "You know you live in Upstate New York if..."  One of the many "ifs" is "if you drive to work in the morning with your heat on, and drive home in the afternoon with the air conditioning on."  I'm not sure in how many areas of the country that kind of wild weather changeability is the norm, but it sure is around here.

Mornings this week have been decidedly frosty.

There has been thick, heavy frost on the ground, on the few remaining plants in my vegetable garden, and on the cars.  I've been having to start the car a few minutes early or use a credit card to scrape enough ice off the windshield to see out of it.  I actually ordered a new winter dress coat for work this year (long overdue), and wore it today for the first time with mixed feelings of excitement about a great new coat, and disgust at having to wear the damn thing at all.

Afternoons, however, have been sunny and warm for mid November, especially if one is behind glass.  My office faces south, and has been boiling each afternoon.  I hate having to close the shades and block the gorgeous view, but even with the shades closed it's been decidedly uncomfortable.  The view is the best thing about my office - or the worst, depending on how one looks at it.  Those lovely south hills taunt me when I'm stuck inside but would rather be out there.  Which, really, is most of the time.

While I haven't actually needed the air conditioning in the car on the way home, that may be because I generally head home after it's already dark.  Phoo.  I hate short daylight days.

We adapt.  I dress in layers for work and think nothing of it.  It's just the way it is around here.  The poor insects, however, seem to be struggling mightily.  On a couple of particularly warm evenings earlier this week we spent some time sitting on the front porch.  Swarms of bugs still gathered around the light on the porch, including some mosquitoes.  All of them seem a little sluggish and worse for the wear. 

This past weekend, the boxelder bugs were out in profusion, although not in droves as massive as last year when they practically obscured the entire front of our house on sunny fall afternoons.  The cats love it when they come inside.  Oooh!  Wiggling crunchy toys!  Pleh.  I actually find myself saving the poor little creatures and putting them outside so they don't have to face a slow, painful, crunchy death.  And if you think such little critters don't feel pain, read this.  Mind you, they're probably gathering on our porch because they want to come in and escape the cold, but I hear dying of hypothermia is not a terribly unpleasant death... at least compared with having one's limbs pulled off by a cat.

Somehow, mosquitoes are still getting into the house in droves - possibly even in larger numbers than they do in mid summer.  The peculiar thing is that they seem to all come to my kitchen counter to die.  I'll be standing at the counter preparing dinner, and a mosquito will suddenly fold up its wings and dive into whatever I'm preparing.  I'm not sure if my dinners are really that appealing that they can't bear not to become one with them, or they can't manage to fly properly to feast on my flesh, or what.  But I'm getting tired of picking dying mosquitoes (and a few other winged things) off the counter and out of my food.  Them, I don't save.  They get drowned in the sink.  I'm all for saving fellow creatures, but even I have my limits.

Much as I complain about them, though, come January I'd probably be happy to see a mosquito.  Oh, how I'll miss all that little irritating insect life in the deep dark days of winter.  The grass is always greener, especially in January when any grass is bound to be more colorful than the white cold drifts out in my back yard.  Actually, they'll be white if we're lucky.  More often they're just ugly gray/brown gritty snert (snow/dirt - get it?). 

Remind me again, why do I live where there's winter?  Oh, that's right - for the other three spectacular seasons.


Batten down the hatches and order some more wood.  It's almost time for the human to hibernate.


Ellen Rathbone November 13, 2009 at 10:03 AM  

SNERT! I love it!

Now, truthfully, aren't you just a little bit in love with winter, say, when you wake to that first snowfall of the season and everything is white white white? Or when you are out at night and large lazy flakes are drifting ever so slowly to the ground under the glow of a street light? Or when the early morning sun turns the new-fallen snow into a sheet of diamonds and crystals? C'mon - winter has its moments! :)

Woodswoman Extraordinaire: November 13, 2009 at 10:06 AM  

LOL - alright - MOMENTS. I'm not so much in love with the season's first snowfall, but the sparkly under the sun or the flakes under the street lights get me. And cross-country skiing on days when there are big soft clumps of snow stuck to all the branches. But overall, fewer moments than the rest of the seasons!

Woodswalker November 13, 2009 at 12:33 PM  

I think what you need to enjoy winter more is not a new coat but SNOWSHOES. They certainly changed my mind about how wonderful winter is, when you can meander around the silent woods and follow animal tracks in the snow and read all the evidence there about their own life-and-death dramas. Skis are fun, but solitary snowshoeing is marvelous.

Be glad your cats just kill bugs. My cats kill mice and then leave them behind the couch to stink up the whole house until we manage to find the little corpses.

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