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As season grows toward fall, life continues to change


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It’s a cool breezy 69 degrees as I write this column looking out my living room bay window. It’s supposed to get to a low of 48 degrees tonight, but currently a ruby-throated hummingbird has been flying to the sugar-water feeder hanging from an extended gutter hook.

Last week from the same window, a bird I couldn’t identify landed on my suet feeder among the many black-capped chickadees. Grabbing my National Audubon Society field guide and resorting to a Google search, I finally figured out she was either an albino or leucistic black-capped chickadee, which basically means because  of a genetic mutation that prevents pigment, notably melanin, a bird can have all white plumage.

I wondered if her bright white feathers would attract the attention of some nearby red-tailed hawks and read that leucism in birds can indeed rob them of their protective camouflage. In addition, being a pure white black-capped chickadee can hinder the opportunity to find a strong, healthy mate since the plumage colors play an important role in courtship rituals. I’m not worried about Lucy, our leucistic chickadee. She’s been hanging around for over a week, and the other birds seem to love her.

Before the pasture that makes a “L” around our property was mowed, Daisy, our 14-year-old border collie, and Millie, our 3-year-old red heeler, were practicing their weekly howling duo with the 11 a.m. Friday weather-warning siren test. When the sirens quieted, I heard continued high-pitched howling from the field — a pack of coyote pups were mimicking our dogs howling.

I attempted (to the laughter of my daughters) to mimic the siren, so I could locate the coyotes, which were bedded down — but only got the rooster next door to answer me perfectly every time I vocalized the increasingly high-pitched siren, “eeeeeee.”

After the field was freshly mowed this morning, I saw a velvet-antlered buck this morning feeding between two clumps of trees. When I slowly reached for my camera, he spotted me through the window and sauntered off behind the trees.

Over the next month the deer’s growing velvet antlers will have hardened, and the velvet will slough off within day or two. Meanwhile, with sensitive velvets, the deer will lazily eat and fatten up for rut season and the following winter.

Before some of the cousins started school Tuesday, we had a “cousin day” — which consisted of watching movies, playing Legos and Blogo, eating snacks and making a notebook craft. When I mentioned that in three weeks Chloe moves to St. Louis with her husband, Michael, so she can start chiropractic school and Phoebe moves to Anderson University to start college, my 7-year-old nephew Eli, (the third of five very bright and charming children) looked up from his Legos with great curiosity and asked me an innocent, yet season-changing question that I’ve continued to ponder.

“But Aunt Janet, who are you going take care of?”

And the seasons continue to change.

Janet Hommel Mangas, the third of seven children, grew up on the east side of Greenwood. The Center Grove area resident and her husband are the parents of three daughters. Send comments to letters@dailyjournal.net.

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