Seasonal Confusion

Monarch caterpillar

I could hardly believe my ears less than a week ago. I had to shake my head to be sure I wasn’t hallucinating or having a psychotic break with time and place: spring peepers were doing their best warm-March-day chorus down along the creek in late October! Later that day, I almost stepped on one bouncing up along the forest path, a tiny leaping X-caped lump the color of the fallen leaves.

The monarchs are taking their sweet time getting the heck outta here to move toward warmer roosts far, far west across the country.

The starlings are restless, but I’ve yet to see them do anything more than swirl and settle undecided about whether it’s time to go yet or not.

But there’s a fire in the stove this morning and the first hard frost glazes the pasture just now as the sun rises over the ridge. I’m about to carry the camera out and investigate, to confirm that we are finally having seasonal weather at last.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. Like my Siberians winter coat, it can’t decide weather to stay or to go. They’ve grown back a healthy thick winter coat, but yet it’s been so warm, that new coat is beginning to blow out again.

    As for me, I’ll be real glad when it gets cold enough that the winter coat stays on the dogs. Because you don’t know shedding until you live with Siberians!

  2. Oh My – a beautiful Monarch larva!! I found 3 Monarch larvae on my milkweed this summer – but something happened & they disappeared – I was under the impression that no predators would harm them, but something happened – I question what?????????? I had aphids & milkweed beetles on the milkweeds, but the Master Gardener at the MO Botanical Garden told me not to worry about them as they would not harm the larvae. So what was the problem? Don’t know – will have to investigate!

  3. I made a poster of the life cycles of the Monarch & the Black Swallowtail butterflies for a display at my local Wild Bird Center last summer. My grand-daughter’s kindergarten teacher has invited me to come and give a talk in the spring when the class will be studying butterflies – I am so excited, I can hardly wait! My grand-daughter, Helena, can give you the entire life cycle of a butterfly so I know she will be a great help to me in my presentation……

  4. Fred:

    I love the pictures! Can you divulge which lens you used for this photo, or is it a trade secret?
    And totally unrelated, I saw in the Danville newspaper that you were giving a speech (talk? lecture?) here last week, but I was in St. Louis on business and unable to attend. I would have liked the opportunity to meet you, as I’ve read your site on a regular basis. Perhaps next time…

    Jim in Danville