By Mary Alice Murphy
After receiving almost a half-inch of rain in several showers last week, all of a sudden a cool front arrived, and lowered the temperatures drastically.
We had a low of 46 on our thermometer, while one friend who lives near Pinos Altos told me they had a low of 39. That indicates fall is on its way, don't you think?
The hummingbirds obviously thought so, too. In my last Just Call Me MAM, I told you about the hordes we finally had at our feeders. They were keeping me busy putting in new nectar for the females and juveniles. You know how teenagers eat. Plus, these were stocking up for a long trip southward. I presume the north wind blew most of them away, because over the past couple of days, I've seen a maximum of three hummers at a time.
I have seen none today, Sunday, but I haven't really had time to look. I haven't heard their whirr of wings, either. And it's quite breezy out, with winds blowing a good part of last night. The wind might have taken the late-comers with it.
Not only have the rains stopped and the hummingbirds have mostly gone south, but the skies are not hazy anymore, like they were when our brief rainy season descended on us.
Since supposedly the La Niña weather pattern has been replaced by El Niño, which generally brings more moisture to our southwestern region, we can only hope for a robust snowpack this year. It would be nice to see white mountains to our north, wouldn't it?
If you've been in the forest lately, you have likely seen many dead trees. The dead trees are likely a combination of several dry years, hot summers with little moisture to feed the roots, and maybe bark beetles. I didn't get down underneath the trees to see if the telltale sawdust was there. Winds may have blown it away in any case.
The dead trees just add fuel to any fires that may occur this fall or next spring. Of course, fire is one of nature's mechanisms to clear the understory and cull the dead wood. However, I would hate to see a catastrophic fire like the Whitewater-Baldy of this summer, in our forest close to Silver City. There's plenty of fuel, and a lightning strike could cause the same havoc as the W-B did. Silver City is downstream from the mountains to the north of us, so we, like Glenwood and Alma, could see ash and soot in our streams. It's never too early to prepare for fire in our neighborhoods. We do live in an environment where fire is part of the ecosystem. Be prepared.
I look forward to the changing of the leaf color on trees in our yard, as well as trees around town. One friend told me her cottonwood is already starting to show a few yellow leaves. Our trees are still fairly green, but a good cold snap will take care of that.
May your musings bring you beauty!