bunt sign

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Aha! I knew there was some good weather left in the North Bay, before winter sets in. This was the day. Or, as I prefer to call it, the first day of the rest of the summer. Itís been what they call a ďmildĒ summer here, by which they mean ďnot hot enough.Ē Today it was hot enough to wake up the birds and the bugs, even the ones on the verge of hibernation or migration.

The wasps that nest under the eave outside my front door were swarming madly this afternoon in the autumn heat. That nest has to go this winter, but I canít bring myself to try anything while itís being occupied. Itís not just the danger of reenacting a scene from a bad William Shatner movie, although thatís incentive enough to leave it alone. At one point this afternoon there must have been three dozen wasps ascending from the ground to the nest, all at once as if in the midst of a coordinated airlift. Which it might well have been, for all I know.

We seem to have adopted a pet butterfly here at the rancho. Iím a little mystified by this creatureís behavior, because it spent most of the day fluttering around my back porch, where there is almost nothing that could attract it. No flowers, not much color, not even any water. I donít go out there myself very often, because itís so uninviting, covered as it is with overgrown blackberry brambles. The butterfly is more than welcome, but Iím at a bit of a loss as to what the attraction is.

This afternoon when I opened the front door to walk out to the mailbox, I stopped short before opening the screen door. Something was attached to the screen, and it took me a minute to recognize it as a praying mantis. Then I took a closer look and saw that it was two praying mantises, at least temporarily. The larger one was devouring her mate in the traditional post-coital meal. Iíd actually never seen this in person before, but it was enough to make me grab my camera.

28 September 2005

Love in the hot afternoon.
(This is from outside the house. Click photo to see the interior view.)

She wasnít a widow yet at this point, because he was still alive. He wasnít struggling, but I could see his legs and antennae twitching. When a piece of his wing fell out of her mouth to the ground, she just moved on to the thorax. Or the abdomen; I forget which is which in praying mantises.

As time went on for the next hour or so, he got smaller and smaller, but the last time I looked his head was still moving around casually, as she munched on the other end. A few minutes later they were both gone. I opened the door to see if they were nearby, but all I found was a piece of wing stuck to the screen. I left it there in his memory. Or because I didnít especially want to touch it.

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Many major league baseball teams have played most of the year knowing that they werenít going to make it into postseason play. Some were eliminated, at least in their own minds, in April. Most, more than half, have known for at least a month that they didnít have a shot. So itís no shame for the Giants that they only meaningless games they will play all year will be the next four, which will be their last four until next season. The Padres wrapped up the division tonight with a 9-1 win over the Giants. That gives them at least four extra games before they, too, will head home for the winter.

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