Low: 44° FTo paraphrase Garrison Keillor, it’s been a quiet week here in Central Maine. The caninaturalist and I have readjusted our walking routine to accommodate the growing black fly population, pushing our walks earlier into the dawn and later into the evening. That seems to suit both of just fine, as this is the one time of year I don’t mind being nudged with a wet husky nose before 6:00 a.m. Why not? After all, spring has finally arrived.
High: 68° F
Conditions: Partly cloudy with a chance of showers late.
This makes both me and the caninaturalist deliriously happy.
Ari loves greens: timothy grass, fiddlehead ferns, and just about anything that grows in our garden. When she was a puppy, we thought she might be part goat. Now that she’s grown into her ears, she looks a little less the part. Still, her penchant for grazing continues.
This time of year, she noses around the pansy and fern shoots, looking for her first breakfast. Meanwhile, I spend my time looking upwards, trying my best to take in every molecule of flowering apple and pear trees. It is, without a doubt, the best show of color we'll see until fall foliage season.
Colorful signs of spring seem to be arriving all around our house these days. Nevertheless, I haven’t been able to get over the feeling that something is missing.
I spent all week trying to place it. And then, just this morning I finally realized what it is: other than our recent intruder the red squirrel, we haven’t seen a single wild animal. Sure, a handful of goldfinches and chickadees still visit our feeder, and we’re still hearing the last of the spring peepers. But that’s it. No barred owls and coyotes; no porcupines and skunks; no fox and deer. The woods are just too quiet.
This revelation came on the same day that the WWF released the latest Living Planet Index, which reveals that biodiversity has dropped by about a third since I was born. I’m 33, so you can understand my concern.
Ari is just two, so she hasn’t seen nearly the decrease in her life. But over the past week, she too seems aware that a lot less seems to be going on in our woods. Has biodiversity there dropped in just the last seven days? Probably not. But a new logging operation just off of one of our favorite trails is doing in miniature what the Living Planet Index has investigated at the macro-level: creating a human habitat intrusion the likes of which most environments have never seen.
Don’t get me wrong: we love studying foliage. We just don’t like the idea it might be all we have to study before too long.
That’s a sobering thought for any caninaturalist--especially now, during an otherwise glee-filled time of year. In fact, you might say it's left us speechless.