LAURENCE PRINGLE'S BLOG
Earlier this fall I researched and wrote the text of THE SECRET LIFE OF THE SLOTH. An editor wondered why this manuscript had less action and drama than, say, my books about a woolly bear caterpillar, red fox, and little brown bat. I had to explain: it is a sloth! These mammals are the least-energetic and slowest of all mammals. So, in writing I could not use words like "leaped," "scampered," "raced," or many other action words. Nevertheless, readers will get to know, and become emotionally attached to, the female sloth and the young male she gives birth to. Artist Kate Garchinsky has started her research and sketches. This will lead, many months from now, to a gloriously illustrated book.
And speaking of bats, on October 24th a house painter removed our bat house from a wall of our home, and a bat fell out. I rescued it, putting it a nearby shed. The bat house was put back and on Halloween I looked in, seeing one sleeping bat. Perhaps it was the same one. This incident led me to watch for bats foraging in the sky, to see if they might still be out there hunting insects. They were--as long as the temperatures at dusk were about 60 degrees F. And I saw two sizes of bats, probably little browns and big browns. It never occurred to me to watch for bats so deep in the fall, so I thank the house painter for that. Read More
Curious about mange, I did some research--and learned that a wild fox can be cured of mange! This involves having the fox come for food frequently, and giving it meat or other food with anti-mite medication in it. Mangy foxes are not good hunters so I was able to start feeding "our" fox every night. On Feb. 2 it had its first dose of medicine. It has had 14 doses since, now only once a week because all mites (and those that hatched from eggs) are almost certainly dead by now.
We see new hair growth on its rear, and hints of hair growth on its tail. But a full fox tail has hair at least 6 inches long, so months may pass before the fox looks totally healthy. We hope he'll still be around, deep in the summer, and we can see the glorious banner of a full tail. Ever since I wrote The Secret Life of the Red Fox I have been very fox-conscious. You could say that I'm a fox-lover. Read More
prediction depends entirely on whether it is cloudy (no shadow), or sunny (shadow).
No groundhog is needed! With our own human eyes and brains we can detect whether we sense sunshine and see shadows. Then we alone make the meteorological forecast (which is also nonsense but that's another story).
Sorry, Punxsutawney, it is just SHADOW OR NO SHADOW DAY. Read More
The book is rich with details (and illustrations) of Lenape life, which appealed to my own nature-exploring adventures. However, I was especially drawn to its fictional narrator, an English boy (Dickon) who was swept overboard from a British ship in 1612 and lived with the Lenapes for two years. He has trouble with a bully but is lovingly accepted by others, and by a dog. At the book's end he makes a heart-wrenching decision. It made me cry when I was twelve, and probably can do so again now. Read More
A fall with far-above average temperatures has yielded some sweet surprises in nature: Green frogs still active in the garden pond. Katydids calling at night, even in early November. Ten or twenty years ago we would have had a killing frost well before Halloween. Our everyday lives show evidence of global warming, brought on by human activity. Some minor changes are welcome. The major ones are scary.
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My dedication in that book: "To monarchs--only butterflies, yet strong enough to lift the human heart." They continue to have that affect. Whether I am driving along a highway or fishing on the ocean's edge, the sight of a fall-migrating monarch stirs strong feelings--and cheers, as I wish the butterfly a safe journey to Mexico. But, thanks to humans, monarchs face many threats. Their numbers at overwintering sites have dropped lower and lower. The great migration has faltered. These past few years I saw no monarchs at all near home. visiting author
Ah, but 2017 offers hope. A few monarchs have appeared, visiting butterfly weeds and butterfly bushes. A milkweed plant volunteered in a flower garden, and has now been fed upon by 4 monarch caterpillars. Another fed on butterfly weed. Though I found just one chrysalis, I believe all 5 made it through to adulthood. In the weeks ahead I will be near ocean beaches along which monarchs traditionally travel as they head west and south from New England and New York. Hopes rise. I may have many chances to cheer and cheer and cheer migrating monarchs! Read More
However, katydids send a kind of mixed message. Many years ago I mentioned this to my wife, Susan. "They signal that summer is far along. Fall is coming." Susan was then a very good, dedicated school teacher--BUT she did not want to be reminded of autumn's approach. I believe it was my remark about katydids that led to a family rule: in summer vacation (until near Labor Day), we tried to avoid the S-word, the A-word, and the F-word. And those words were School, Autumn, and Fall. In general, though, from now on this summer we will enjoy the bittersweet music of katydids (the K-word). Read More
I suspected that he was dead, but each morning looked from a certain window to see if he was in his usual "waiting for breakfast" spot. At 7 a.m. on June 30 he was!
He had lost weight but was not "skin and bones." And, of course, he was still feral, not letting me get very close. He continues to show up, often twice a day, for a good meal.
And when I let some people know the good news, I included a link to "Happy," by Pharrell Williams. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y6Sxv-sUYtM Read More