As Europe was suffering record cold temperatures from Sweden to Portugal; animals of the Americas were busy responding to the call of the howling wind.
A snapping turtle hides in mud, the last of the milkweed vine bugs retreat under the dead leaf mat, and humans run to the store to buy caulking by the bucketful to insulate their nests.
Climate challenge stirs the mind, and nature responds. Carpets are littered with ladybugs, the native red ones and the majority of the invasive Chinese orange shelled ones; they are looking for a cozy home to survive the brutal wintry conditions in the plains. Next spring, the native ones will surely rise above the crowding and re-adapt to their new neighbors in the food competition game.
The local snappers and painted turtles will scramble to the creek bed and grab the minnows and crayfish under remaining slabs of ice in the swift muddy run off from the upstream rains.
I don't worry about the animals, I have seen so many perish and others subsist, that reinforces the theory of survival and movement. The ones which can't exist under harsh conditions find the impetus to move on to thicker thickets or muddier waters.
The balance will prevail if left to essential instincts, morphing, and natural circumstance. This year, I did not see many bees or praying mantis, oh, a few on the clover, mostly drones or carpenter bees. One, one single honey bee at summer's waning time, when sun shone and the drowning rains finally stopped.
Whether by pesticide, by mold or virus, the beekeeper's world has suffered, but the fruiting season was so plentiful due to wind dispersion and moths or butterflies, that wasps had a chance for a fall feast before Thanksgiving. lawns were littered with decaying apples and pears, raccoons and opossums were competing with the woodchucks for the all ground buffet.
Skunks and squirrels grew fast and abundant, by the evidence of roadkill in town and on country roads, the creatures of the wilds rushed from berry bush to orchard, braving traffic. The avian raptors barely had time to adapt to the influx in swift mammalian growth afield. The ones flying above the voles, the cottontails and moles, were surely encoding their reproductive organs for a future surge in numbers as well. Spring litters should be numerous and healthy.
Next year, the moth will be ready for its young to devour the forest, the black snake will readjust to the recent invasion of moles in town yards. Hawks will roost in the oak uphill and the four or five vultures will soon be multitudinous spots circling on the thermals over the valley. Fox will bring their playful kits out of the abandoned barns around, sow bugs will roll out of the decay.
The river will scrape its sides and rush across the clay fields to spoil man's best plans; upsetting the dreams of another bumper crop of corn or soybeans to sell by year's end to the ethanol kings and the high fructose moguls in the center of the earth, perched in towers of importance.
So much to make out of cultivated mono-cultures, so little paid to the rest of nature below. And yet, I have faith in the restoration of balance, in the renewal of disheveled order among the plains. The Osage orange drop to the ground, the last frost has matured the remaining persimmons for the eager foragers. Corms and small native berries covered the ground as an offering to rodents and birds.
I hear the distant call of playful coyotes, laughing across the gully, knowing the paralyzing effect they have on their furry victims below. Good night to the season, for tomorrow, snow...And rest for all that live in perennial expectation.