Do they Know?

The weather changed a wee bit the evening of Monday, November 10, 2014. By wee bit I mean a blue norther blew in just after sunset that dropped the temperature from 85 degrees to 35 degrees in three hours. For a while it was dropping one degree every 90 seconds. Yes, I was staring at the thermometer as clouds of dust and leaves hissed and roared past Schloß Red. Earlier that afternoon, I’d taken advantage of the arrival of a sheet of clouds and the calm wind to take a last walk before it got “chilly.” And I noticed something interesting.On Sunday, butterflies swarmed the yards around Schloß Red and Redquaters (Mom and Dad Red’s place). I mean, the fluttery buggers were all but pulling the buddleias and salvias out by the roots. One last Monarch, herds of frittelaries, and a few others skittered and danced around the flowers. Native bees and honey bees covered anything the butterflies ignored, and a few moths did their thing by daylight. Dad refilled the bird bath and the robins promptly emptied it by turning it into a sprinkler as they bathed.

But on Monday? Just as warm, if not warmer, less wind, and no butterflies. Nary a one, anywhere. The cold front was still 60 miles north of town, but the bugs had already vanished. Most of the birds as well, aside from the usual starlings and a few doves. And the buzzards that roost in the high-rent neighborhood. No robins flocked, the blue jays had gone silent, I didn’t hear the mockingbird harassing the resident cats.

Lots of humans hurried by, bringing in lawn furniture, emptying garden hoses and sprinklers, trundling potted plants into the garage, and (in one case) hanging Christmas lights. The park overflowed with kids, joggers, and dog-walkers. I smelled at least three grills going strong as the sunset began undershooting the raft of cloud, turning the sheet of clouds gold, then red before fading to violet.

Did the insects and animals know? I didn’t see any masses of ducks, geese, and cranes streaming south, but the locals all vanished. Or am I reading a coincidence into my observations, anthropomorphizing butterflies and blue jays?

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