Sensing The Change Of Seasons

The last two weeks in September are guaranteed to bring a string of changes. A gentle, friendly, fall wind woke me one morning and I heard the flutter of leaves that are beginning to change their song to the fall tune. Chipmunks are chattering up a storm as they chase around putting food by for winter.

The rare pair of yellow warblers I saw a couple of weeks ago have headed south but chicadees still buzz me. Mice are checking out my attic. I don’t like to kill them and found a neat way to turn them off a few years ago. I was doing a grandma stint with my daughter’s cat, Mack, who refused to leave the house for the duration of his visit. But he did make use of the litter box I set out. When it was time to change the box, minus the feces but fragrant with urine, I sprinkled the contents outside along the wall of the house where the mice usually enter. For two years, with Mack’s regular visits and litter deposits, no mice elected to visit. I missed visit time with him this year and definitely need to invite him back for another symbiotic adventure.

We continue to need to take precautions when cleaning out sheds, attics. Rodents are typically drawn to our storage spaces. Be aware that rodents are carriers of viruses, some of which are deadly, and if we inhale dust from their saliva, urine or scat that they leave behind, we can contract a virus. While some rodents, like the white-footed mouse, have been identified as carriers here in the Northeast, they are all potential carriers of viruses and bacteria.

A few precautions are in order. Wear rubber gloves or cover hands with plastic bags to avoid touching what we clean up, and double bag it for the dump. Avoid touching dead rodents or birds. Special attention must be given to children who are often fascinated by dead wildlife and need to be forewarned as they explore the wonders of our area.

Be aware that most of us normally touch our hands to our faces several times an hour (check it out!) Thus, depending on our attention to hand-washing, we risk inhaling organisms that spell trouble.

On a brighter side, fall is also a time to put the gardens to bed for winter, spread that last layer of mulch to keep the worms warm, time to gather seeds, plant cover crops, set out the bulbs, make hearty soups and apple everything. It’s a time to enjoy the flood of color that fills our mountains with our friends and families, a time to give thanks.

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