Well, as far as one field site is concerned, my fall bee sampling is finished.
Because the site closes to "pedestrian traffic" on Monday. It's Youth Hunt season, and I guess they are doing rifle hunting out there. (The Oklahoma DWC lists the 26th - today - through Nov. 3 as "muzzleloader" season, but there's also a "Youth Gun" season that runs about the same time). The site will be closed until Nov. 17, so by then, it will probably be too late for bees. Oh well.
(I'm glad they posted it. I'm only dimly aware of the seasons as I don't hunt and only know about them from my students who do. I know archery season was going on because several of my students said they were going out over fall break. Heh. This is kind of true in any rural area; I remember as an undergrad having a lab partner who was from somewhere in northern Michigan and he talked about how school actually closed for the first two days of their deer season because truancy was so high anyway. And my advisor used to tell the joke about the three men who wound up unexpectedly at the Pearly Gates. The first one, he said, had an IQ of 150. So St. Peter passed the time with him by discussing quantum physics and the theory of relativity. The second man had an IQ of 120; St. Peter talked Earth politics with him. The third guy had an IQ of 100; he said, "And St. Peter said to him, "Get your deer yet?" And my advisor was a hunter so he was partly telling the joke on himself.... He said he used to like going hunting with the departmental anatomist because then that guy would volunteer to do the field-dressing)
I guess we are going back to Standard Time sometime soon? I'll be glad when we do; it just seems like such a drag to leave the house in the dark and drive to work in the dark, and have it still be dark at 7 am. I don't mind driving home in the dark, that feels natural, but going to work in the dark....no. I also have to put my porch light on (and leave it on all day) because I'm always afraid of tripping and falling as I go down the front steps. I don't worry nearly so much going UP them; I seem to fall going down stairs much more easily than I do going up.
I heard the first commercial playing of Christmas music this morning. The Wal-Mart has their Christmas stuff up and near that section (I had to go near it to get shampoo) they are playing Christmas music already.
I love Christmas. I love decorating and preparing and stuff. But a week before Halloween is too darn early. (I give craft stores - which have had stuff up for a while - a pass, because if you're doing needlepoint stockings or something, you need time to work on them. But not for mass-produced already-made decorating stuff.)
Gah. I can't believe it was only a week ago I was on my way to Longview. This has been an incredibly long week.
While sitting out in the field in 10-minute chunks, I find I spend a lot of that time thinking. (The happier thought, which maybe I'll develop later into a post: how Thanksgiving and Independence Day, which are almost at opposite poles of the calendar, are the two most typically American holidays (yes, I know Canadians have Thanksgiving too....)
But yesterday afternoon, sitting in the slight chill, watching the butterflies frantically trying to get enough nectar to - what? Lay eggs? Migrate? I know monarchs migrate but I don't know how many of the other species do, whether Gorgone Crescents do or Gulf Fritillaries, or if the first cold night they just all die. And I noticed a Buckeye being eaten by a praying mantis. And it just all seemed kind of sad and cold and while I don't normally see creeping mortality in a fall day, this day I did.
And then I realized: as far as we can determine, humans are the only creatures that know they will die, or at least that dread death. Other creatures fear danger (otherwise, the deer would not leap up out of their resting places and run off when they hear me coming - which is something that always freaks me out until I see it's a deer), but they don't seem to brood on death as humans do. (That may be the difference in why, for most of us, it seems OK or even kind to put down a dog who is very sick and old, but euthanasia of humans, other than maybe things like withholding "heroic measures," leads to a certain discomfort for many of us).
I suppose with a friend in hospice I've been thinking about it more. To know the end is coming, to even plan your own funeral....I suppose I'm still relatively young and in some ways have little experience of life* but that seems very strange to me. And I don't know if I could do it. How do you get up in the morning knowing your expiration date is coming up soon rather than some undefined future time**? I suppose you find a way of coping but considering the level of dread I'm capable of working up in the face of something like dental work, and with that I know in x number of hours I will walk out of the dentist's operatory and not have to worry about that particular thing again, and I can do things like promise myself that I will go and buy some yarn or something as a reward for having to do it....
(*I've never been in really "mortal peril." I've had only two things in my life that could even be classed as operations, and both were minor. I've never been in a car wreck (been close, once or twice), never had an illness that the doctors thought I might not recover from, never had a life-threatening allergic reaction, never had anything happen like be in a hostage situation. Maybe a person gets more sanguine about dying when they've come close, I don't know.)
(**that's also a part of my relative discomfort with the death penalty. While I think perhaps for some individuals (like Timothy McVeigh), it may be the most fitting punishment, still, it's just such a horrible thing to contemplate - to know that in x days you will die, no matter how healthy you are, no matter what happens. And yeah, I get that a lot of people who are put to death have done really horrible things, and don't show remorse, and might do those things again if they were released....still, it's a horrible thing to contemplate)
A lot of it is fear of the unknown. While there are people who have "come back" after apparently going "part way," and they have some interesting things to say (and some people don't believe those things are real, but whatever), still, none of us will know for sure what it's like until it happens.
But I was thinking about it. And maybe the real legacy of the Fall or being given free will or being smart enough to be human or whatever you want to call it is that we know we're going to die, and for most of us, that's an uncomfortable thought. That it's materially different for the animals, and that maybe in one way they have an advantage over us.