Leaves

The leaves are changing colors.

Not just on one tree, or on a group of trees in one location. They’re changing color everywhere.

I’ve been running a lot of errands this last couple of days, and everywhere I’ve gone, I’m seeing signs of autumn. In August.

The tall maples outside Villanova’s law school building are orange and red along their tops. In Devon, the crabapples have random patches of yellow-orange, and out in Valley Forge, one of the back paths had a small pile of red-brown leaves under a tree already.

Not to mention that, outside my own door, several of the oaks have small lines of yellow running along their crowns.

Not to mention, there’s two maples along the wildlife sanctuary that have actually dropped all the leaves from the top third of each tree.

This does not bode well for the winter.

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The groundhogs are frisky . . .

Spring is definitely on the way — the groundhogs are frisky.

My company is located in a small office park on the site of a former farm.  Each building is surrounded by wooded areas with a stream running between and behind the offices.  Just around our building, we’ve found hazelnut, sassafras, crabapple, chokecherry, oak, hickory, elm and thorn trees, as well as honeysuckle, wild rose and various berry bushes.  The thickets and stream make an ideal mini-habitat for wildlife, and despite the surrounding highways, we enjoy watching the deer, foxes and rabbits, plus the occasional skunk, wander by the windows.  At last check, our bird count was over 60 varieties, including red-tail and Cooper’s hawks and a sharpshin hawk we think is nesting somewhere near the stream.

The only wildlife we could do without are the non-migrating Canadian geese.  They literally run across the roofs of the buildings — the noise is horrendous, and we won’t discuss the mess they leave all over the lawns.  On the other hand, the foxes love them.  Despite the size difference, I’ve twice seen a red fox hauling a goose across the lawn, taking it home for dinner.

However, our personal favorites are the groundhogs — each building has a least one groundhog as a tenant.

Our building has had two for the last three years — Freddie on the front lawn, Phoebe in the woods to the side of the building.  Each year, as summer blends into autumn, we watch the ‘hogs getting fatter, and fatter — and slower and slower.  By October, they’re keeping close to their dens, ready to run and hide at the first sign of danger.  (And danger there is from the hawks overhead to the foxes roaming the lawns.)

But in spring — ah, spring brings groundhog love.  They’re svelte, active, happy groundhogs looking to start a family.  We can always tell when it’s spring — first we sight the groundhogs out of their dens, each grazing their ways through the clover on their respective lawns.

Then, we’ll see Freddie amble over to join Phoebe on the side lawn.

A month or so later, Freddie will move back to his prime real estate on the massive front lawn, with its deluxe, multi-entrance burrow against the warm wall of our building.

And Phoebe will show up being trailed by a couple of miniaturized groundhog babies.

This is how I can tell spring is definitely here.  Friday I spotted Freddie and Phoebe on their individual grazing grounds.

Sunday Freddie was dining with Ms. Phoebe.

Romance is in the air — and so is spring.

(originally to be posted on Saturday, but work interfered)

Spring is coming . . .

At least I hope so. No one’s told the flowers about the maybe-snow storm next week. On my way into work this week I kept passing a house with green shoots of something poking through the dirt. This morning I finally got a better look.

Snowdrops. The first flowers of spring.

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Which led to the realization that in my enthusiasm at my promotion, and the accompanying increase in the workload, I have been neglecting this blog. No more. Let’s see if I can write something here for, oh, the next 111 days.