Falling leaves and stuff

Nice clear, brisk, breezy fall day, and the pigeons are out swooping around feeling frisky.  So are the people – dodging pedestrians and cars dashing randomly into the street on the way in.  A few blocks after an ambulance passed in the other direction with lights and siren, there were another ambulance and a police car stopped in the middle of the road picking up after what looked like a pedestrian crackup.  Three blocks past that, screeching tires as a line of cars going the other way  came to a sudden stop, the last 2 not as quickly as they might have wanted.  Less than half a mile past that, two cars off the road, one up against a tree, and a police car collecting information.  Luckily I make it a practice not to gawk at accidents, so I was able to see and avoid the car which came darting out of a side street into my lane as I passed the accident scene.   Supposedly there is a law now banning use of hand-held phones while driving in this state.  Drivers are taking that as seriously as they take the traffic regulations, and I’m betting it will be enforced as rigorously as the traffic regulations are presently enforced – randomly and sporadically, but generally ignored by the police.  It’s a shame, really – if there were no laws, or the laws were enforced, I suspect the driving would be more predictable.  As it is, about a quarter of us try to obey the laws all the time, maybe half of us try to obey the laws when it’s convenient, and the rest simply drive as the whim takes them.  That makes for a very dangerous and unpredictable mix on the roads.  It’s similar to the situation on the highway, where about 10% of the drivers are driving at or below the speed limit, maybe 60% are at up to about 10 mph above the limit, and the rest are doing 20-30 mph or more above the limit, and weaving in and out, tailgating and cutting drivers off.  I’m amazed every day that I don’t see more bad accidents.   I still don’t understand why so many drivers insist on forcing their way into a lane, cutting off a car, when there is up to a mile of clear road behind that car.  It can’t be simply testosterone poisoning, since young women do it as much as young men.  Taking out frustrations?  Blind arrogance?  Something else?

In other news, the butterflies are gone now – no more Monarchs cruising past, and the flowers are bare of anything other than a few late bees and an occasional wasp.  Another Peregrine flypast at work; one of these years we’ll have a nesting pair here.  Another dead migrant at the base of the new building; this one was a sparrow, at least.  With the warbler numbers dropping off so much, I don’t see them dead on the sidewalk much any more in the fall.  We were doing an outing last weekend and saw a sort of minor kettle – about 8 Turkey Vultures, maybe another 6 Black Vultures and a single Red-tail.  I haven’t seen a real kettle of hawks in maybe a dozen years or more – I wonder how the numbers have been looking at Cape May and Hawk Mountain.   A big Araneid has moved into our porch and has a good-sized web up in the corner.  Looks like Neoscona crucifera.  It was fun watching her build the web initially – we first noticed her dangling upside-down from the eaves, holding her legs in a very odd manner.  It was only when looking at the photos later on that the silk was visible – she was laying out the initial anchor line, and once that was solid, she got the framework up and the spiral spun pretty quickly.  I don’t know how much longer the pickings will be good near the porch light, and she doesn’t really look big enough to lay yet, so she may overwinter and go for more next year.  I’m not sure how often or how regularly Araneids do this, and I also don’t know if the pattern is changing as the winters continue to get warmer.

About 2/3 of the trees are still green, but a fair number are brown and dropping leaves.  Not much color change apart from the Blackgums; even the poison ivy is more yellow than red, where it is changing at all.  Doesn’t look like a good foliage year, and I bet this will be the new normal.

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