Published in the Rains County Leader on Tuesday, May 14, 2019:
Florida requires that, when developers put in new subdivisions, they leave a certain percentage of the land in its natural state. We were blessed to have a retention pond right behind our house and a screened-in porch – better known as a lanai by the natives – where we could sit and watch the wildlife. Some of the wildlife, like the alligators, was a little too wild, but the large variety of birds was fascinating.
One in particular caught my eye. It was a rather large black bird with a long neck. It would dive under the water and stay for a long time. Then it would surface and stretch its neck straight up so it could swallow whatever tasty bit of marine life it had snagged before disappearing into the water again. When its tummy was full, it would climb out of the water and sit on a log or rock where it would spread its wings and sit for a spell before flying away.
No one in our household of transplanted Texans could shed any light on this bird and its unusual habits, so I went to the Internet. I found a wildlife site that had a place for questions, and I described our visitor. I received a prompt reply that I was watching an Anhinga or Snakebird. The reason it spread its wings after a swim was that, unlike other aquatic birds, it didn’t have any oil on its feathers. It had to spread out in the sunshine so it could dry off enough to fly.
I have felt somewhat like a Snakebird lately, especially Wednesday of last week. It has been so wet this spring that everyone I know is checking their feet for webbing, and companies that make mildew removers are making a fortune. (more…)
Published in the Rains County Leader on May 29, 2018:
According to USClimateData.com, the average high temperature in Emory for May is 80 degrees and for June is 87 degrees. Apparently someone didn’t get the memo, because weather.com says that we’ve already had nine days over 90 degrees in May this year, and in the next two weeks, the forecast is for six days of triple digit temperatures. The website’s weather calendars from last year show only one day when the thermometer reached that high level, and that was on July 28 when the mercury hit 101 degrees. If this year’s late spring is any indication, we’re in for a long, hot summer.
When it gets this hot, someone who is old enough to know the answer invariably asks, “How did we survive back in the days before air conditioning?” Then, the conversation turns to all the methods we used to beat the heat. David and I have been driving the older car this week, and the air coming out of the A/C vents was just barely cool. On Sunday he stopped at the auto supply where he left the car running so it would be cool for me while he ran in to get some Freon. It didn’t work. As the temperature began to rise, I thought about how we lived back in the olden days. (more…)
Published in the Rains County Leader on May 2, 2017:
Thunderstorms had been predicted all day on Saturday, but every time we looked at the weather on our phones, the onset had been moved to a later time. Finally, as I was beginning preparations for dinner, the sky darkened enough that I turned on the kitchen lights. We no longer have network TV, so after the dinner dishes were done, David found a movie on his laptop, hooked it up to the TV, and we settled down to watch the latest Jack Reacher flick. (more…)
Published in the Rains County Leader on January 17, 2017:
Sunday night, after the Dallas Cowboys closed out their 2016 season with a heart-stopping loss to the Green Bay Packers, David switched over to NBC so we could watch the Steelers and the Chiefs fight it out for the privilege of playing the Patriots next week. Along with the football game, we also watched weather reports – a lot of them! (more…)