Thursday, October 23, 2014

Autumn on the Coast

I've come to miss the signs of fall that I grew up with on the east coast.  Back then  there was a nip in the air and the leaves would turn wonderful colors and eventually fall into big piles that we used to play in and one would be surrounded by the beautiful sounds and smells of the crisp leaves.

Here on the Oregon Coast there are signs of autumn, but it isn’t the changing colors of the trees.  Yes, some trees change color; like some maples and aspens but trees like the alders start shedding their leaves in early August but the colors don’t change.  The leaves of the alders are all gone by the time the first autumn wind storm happens.

The signs of autumn here start with roads.  Chipmunks cross the road in confusion and though one might slow down and hope the animal has decided on where it wants to be you will inevitably hear a thump under your rear tire as you pass. 

The next road hazards are the Woolly Bears.  These are the furry black and orange caterpillars that find it necessary to cross the roads.  I always try to avoid them with my tires, however when looking in the rear-view mirror after I pass them I find the wind from my vehicle blows them away and they roll up in a ball to try to defend themselves.

Wolly Bears are interesting creatures because according to folk lore you can use them to predict the severity of the up-coming winter by the amount of black fur they have.  The more black fir, the more severe the winter will be.  If they successfully consume enough food they will turn into a yellowish moth known as the Isabella Tiger Moth which will mate and lay clusters of eggs under leafs and the whole process begins again.
Though we have had our first rain and wind storm of the season the Wooly Bears are still crossing the roads, even in the rain.  Soon we will have our first frost and that will signify that that the process of autumn is nearing its end.  It will be green here throughout the winter, even if we get a dusting of snow.  

All the fall and winter rains will assure the first signs of spring in February with the sound of lawn mowers cutting the lawns for the first time as the crocus bulbs come alive with the sounds of the frogs chirping in the swamps.