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After a dozen years of seasons, the groans of the house and the grooves in the lawns have become adopted family. Not so during this strange, unsettling spring and summer. What once were surefire seasonal expectations have become rarities, and oddities seem boundless, ominous.
Yes, ants are perennial. I know their favorite driveway cracks and haunts near the mailbox, though their once a year rush into the pantry always jars me. Familiar too, the baby spiders that cascade from nightlight fixtures in the kitchen and bathroom. Just once annually; certainly enough.
Countless mourning doves have renewed their families in nests under our backyard eaves, usually foiling the mayhem of bluejays. This year, though, hardly any. Barely a hummingbird or a butterfly. Sure it’s been years since I’ve seen a monarch. And those nettlesome paperwasps have skipped us this year as they did last. That started my wondering, as I glanced at the unused pesticide cans.
The new interlopers are disturbing. Despite repeated bludgeonings from an expert exterminator (and thrashings from this rookie as well), we are beset by familiar New York City “animals” – cockroaches. Also, more pincer bugs, stick bugs – a city kid never learns the formal names just a snapshot of the looks of what he kills. And pesky, tiny flies that overwhelm whatever traps are hoisted.
Is it something we did, or have left undone? The neighbors’ guests come a-calling?
During a recent visit to Alaska, a National Park Service ranger talked about the impact of climate change on Glacier Bay, the retreat of the glaciers (she did a certain quick dance away from “global warming”). She told how native Americans some generations back had to flee their homes and belongings because the glaciers suddenly were advancing like a running horse.
I’m not sure what’s transpiring in my Clovis home. Perhaps that I’m just a little older, looking for more flowers than weeds, and encountering something long left dusty in my mind – the experience of surprise.