New Hampshire Nature Notes
by Eric Orff
Just Sliding Into Summer It Seems.
Gone is the string of 90 plus degree days of a week or so ago. Sure looked like we were jumping into summer mode with both feet. Sweaty feet as they were. Nope. Hey this is New England. Don't like the weather. Just wait a bit and it will change for sure.
So in my view of things we are kind of easing through the balance of spring. Plenty of nice warm days and still cooling down pretty well at night. The right temperature inside the house is just a window opening or closing away. And as I listened to the birds still singing and calling this morning at least a corner of spring was still about around here.
Oh the strong smells of early and mid spring have vanished for sure. My lilacs were quickly spent on those few hot days. Same with my plum tree. So gone it seems are the distance fragrances that fill my yard and then pour into my house those all to quickly gone mid spring days. Now we must search for smells.
And speaking of smells, AKA fragrances. I have been watching my mother's dog for a bit as she has some folks regularly coming to her house a mile down the road. This morning I watched as Ginny approached the door and sat down with just the tip of her nose past the door. And how it went to work. I think most of us pretty much ignore our noses. Well we likely use it subconsciously through the day. Oh a whiff of something here or there no doubt does strike a node with our olfactory receptors. And the occasional actual snort when testing that thing you just took out of the frig.
I have tuned my nose a little differently over the decades. My father, despite a full time job as an airline mechanic for Northeast Airlines stationed in far Northern Maine in the 50's into the early 60's, also had a part-time dairy farm . Our prized herd of registered Guernsey cows. I can attest to there being no such thing as a part-time farmer with cattle. Any ways I figured I learned the difference in, shall I call it fragrance, between our Guernsey's poop and the neighbors Holstein cows poop. And maybe I still could. But I have learned to drive by a brook in the spring and sense the smell of smelt running the brook. Cucumber like. And I can pull the smell of a fisher out of the air in a hike through the woods. I bet if you asked your local trapper he could describe a half dozen different animal fragrances.
And most months have different smells. I have often said if I was Rip-Van-Winkle and arose from a months or years long slumber it would take me but a few deep breaths to at least know what month I had awoken in. Yes seasons have smells. Lets face it. Your nose is a gift to you that you really have not unwrapped yet. You can learn a lot from your nose. You should try it.
Just a few days ago, as I let the dog out, well after dark, a flash of light caught my eyes as it drifted upwards. My first firefly of the summer, or as we often called them, lightning bugs. In a fraction of a second my mind jumped back more than a handful of decades to my youth catching lightning bugs and maybe having a couple in a jar to hold up and marvel at as I lay in bed. This has me thinking about so many things that melt away the years and return us to our much younger selves by just a glance of them or say hearing a distant loon call. Here are some of mine. A pile of leaves, a whip-poor-will calling, the smell of a fresh caught fish on your hands or the whiff of a freshly shot shotgun shell as you slide it out of the chamber while bird hunting. Walking barefoot on the summer warmed earth. Yes I could go on. So what brings you back to your youth? What outdoor experience should you do to set your mind back to another time? Well get outside and do it then.
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