This year is looks like both summer and fall were shorter than expected. It only felt like summer (90+ degrees) in the first half of July, and for about three weeks in late August-early September. Now we are five weeks into fall, and the last few days felt more like December. On both Thursday night and Friday night, it got below freezing. It is theoretically possible to have frost in central Kentucky as early as October 10, but in the seven years since my arrival, this is the first time it happened before November.
On Thursday, just before sundown, I looked out the back door. It was 37 degrees then. A brown female cardinal was at the bird feeder, and a few snowflakes fell behind her. It could be a scene from a Christmas card, only I never expected to see it in October! That was the only time I saw any flakes, they stopped after that. The next morning, I looked at the bird feeder again, and a red (male) cardinal was there. Presumably that was the other one’s mate, because unlike other birds, they don’t migrate, but are stay-at-homes.
You wouldn’t know it was this late in the season if you just looked at the trees. Normally fall color peaks around now, but most of the leaves on the trees in my neighborhood are still green. Only a fraction of the leaves are red, and I have not seen any yellow or orange yet. My guess is they were thrown off schedule by the unseasonal temperatures were are having, and the dry spell we had earlier in the month.
Late yesterday afternoon, I saw a woolly bear caterpillar crawling across the driveway. It was the size of my finger; I don’t remember ever seeing one before (we don’t have them in Florida), but I have seen enough pictures of them in books to know what it was. The brown band in the middle covered two-thirds of its body. I looked in Wikipedia to refresh my memory on woolly bear folklore, and that wide brown band supposedly means we will have a mild winter; like the one in 2011-2012, perhaps? I was also amused to find out that about 50 miles from here, the town of Beattyville had a festival this weekend, the Woolly Worm Festival, dedicated to the caterpillar. What’s more, they have been doing it every year since 1987.
By the way, I saw the woolly bear again today, on the wall of the house, above the garage door. This time Leive saw it too, so now she knows what kind of animal I’m talking about. Last August 28, I posted the Farmer’s Almanac prediction about a “piercing cold winter” for the east coast, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be different, on this side of the Appalachians.