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Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Weather and the Creatures

Bow this morning in the outer pen
We have fine fall weather right now. It's cool, but not too cold. Bow goes outside in the morning and works up a display, and then when he is read, he goes back inside.


When Bow goes back into the inner pen, the dogs in the yard look wistful, as if they wished he would stay longer.

Leo wishes that Bow and I would stay outside and play
I am grateful to have made it safely home from my long trip, and so glad I am not absolutely required to get in my car and drive for hundreds of miles even in a downpour and zero visibility. Some people commute every day to work, and then they find themselves in the same situation that I had to face in Little Rock, Arkansas on my way to Galveston this past week. They have to keep going even though it is not quite safe. For me, it was a rare occasion.

There were thunderstorms even before I set out on the trip, some even quite disruptive. In the wee hours of October 7, a week  before my talk, there was a loud crash of thunder that sounded very close to the house. My iPhone gave a weird warning sign in the darkness, to let me know there was a flash flood watch till 10 am that morning. In the darkened inner pen, Bow became incensed and displayed loudly against the weather gods. That day, we had not internet service, as the modem had been damaged by the storm,

And the snakes came out of their hiding places, aware of the flood danger. 



This was a nice, healthy black rat snake that greeted me by my front door.


That same day, I also saw a different kind of snake.


This snake was much smaller than the rat snake, and it looked a little like a copperhead, but it wasn't.


It was actually a baby prairie Kingsnake. Here are some tips that I picked up from a later websearch about the differences in appearance between a copperhead and a prairie Kingsnake: 1) the Kingsnake  has round marking on its back, while the copperhead's markings are hourglass shaped 2) The Kingsnake has round pupils, while those of the copperhead are vertical and slitted, like cat eyes.

I did not bother the baby Kingsnake and it did not bother me.



By the time I got back from my trip, the weather was clear, but much colder. Checking my mailbox for the first time since my return, I found that a large bee was taking shelter there. I retrieved the newspaper in the mailbox, but just then a car came by on the road, and I quickly shut the mailbox and got out of the way. Then I returned to the mailbox, after the car had passed.


I coaxed the bee out with the newspaper, and eventually got it to buzz away. 

Yesterday I saw a lone butterfly in the crisp fall air and followed it around for a while. 



Where do all these insects go when the weather turns cold? Do they just die? Do they fly off to warmer climes? Do they take shelter in abandoned mailboxes and in man-made beehives and sleep away the winter?

The buttefly I was following yesterday

It is good to be home safe and snug when the weather turns bad.  We are very lucky that way, Bow and I.



4 comments:

  1. Beautiful black rat snake! And I love the prairie king snakes, although I wish they were easier to identify without having to get so close! I think I recall reading that all poisonous snakes have slitted, vertical pupils.
    The butterflies that don't migrate (like the Monarchs do) will die - I think their lifespans (in general) are pretty short anyway, but some of the bees will burrow underground and hibernate, some will die and their larvae (such as the mason bee larva) will emerge in the spring to carry on. It's such an ebb & flow of life!
    Love that first picture of Bow - he almost looks like he's posing for you.

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    1. Thanks, Kathy. I think all the snakes on my property are beautiful! I wish it were easier to tell the prairie kingsnake and the copperhead apart at first sight, too.

      Ebb and flow of life is what it is. And yes, Bow knows when I am taking his picture. He's a bit of a ham.

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  2. I am glad you are back from your trip. I love the picture of Bow.

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    1. Thanks, Julia. It is good to be home.

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