Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Winter wonderin'?

No, it isn't snow edging up to the blackberries -- it's just the result of crazy weather -- hail from a thunder-and-lightning storm we had this morning.

When I first moved to the west coast we didn't seem to have thunderstorms. In fact, they were one thing I missed, and I always loved it when I went back east and got to experience one. While they haven't become exactly common here, they do occur now and then, though usually on a hot day in summer, not on a cool October morning.

Oddly (the way my world so often seems to go), I heard a piece this morning that mentioned the passenger pigeon, a bird whose numbers were so great, its flocks numbered possibly as many as five billion (yes, with a b, billion). Yet by 1914, they were extinct.

Something I hadn't realized was the effect these birds had on forests. The weight of their landing in trees would knock off leaves and even branches, in effect, opening the canopy so light could make its way to the forest floor. This meant the forest environment a century ago was much different than today's. I can't help thinking that maybe the passenger pigeons' disappearance could have something to do with the disastrous fire situations our woodlands -- and even neighbourhoods -- are experiencing.

And really, if flocks of them were so massive they could take hours -- sometimes even days -- to pass across the sky, maybe those clouds of birds were large enough to have an effect on the weather.

The white stuff has melted, but still I wonder, if we hadn't killed off all those passenger pigeons, might our weather be less crazy than it is today?

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