SCORES & OUTDOORS: The summer of 2022 sure has been a strange one

photo by Eric W. Austin

Roland D. Halleeby Roland D. Hallee

It’s always a sad time of the year when we have to close up camp. That is a ritual my wife and I do every year on the last weekend of September. While taking a break during last Saturday’s “just gorgeous” day, we started to rehash the last six months.

It has been a strange summer, with many of the observations we discussed while sitting on the deck. It actually all started back in March and early April. It is said that a 40-year-old maple tree should produce approximately 10 gallons of sap to make maple syrup. I have two trees that I tap in my backyard. This year, those two trees produced 48 gallons of sap. Do the math, it doesn’t add up. They produced more than double what they should have produced.

Then, on to May. We didn’t realize it at the time, but later we would conclude that the black flies this year were not all that bad. And that was followed by a summer when mosquito numbers were down. Even the dreaded browntail moth caterpillar was nowhere to be found. I saw one in late spring-early summer.

Another strange occurrence, we only saw three June bugs in late May and early June. This is compared to some years when, in one particular season, we counted 53 June bugs in one night.

We moved on from there, and noticed that the cicadas, the insect that “sings” (buzzes) during the hot summer days of July. I, personally, didn’t hear one until July 26. Remember the old farmers folklore? From the day you first hear a cicadae, we will get the first killing frost 90 days from that time. However, that is not the problem. I probably heard cicadas less than a half dozen times during the hot days of summer. Unusual. You normally hear them almost every sunny day. Oh, by the way, the first killing frost should come around October 22.

How about the hickory tussock caterpillar? The fuzzy white one with the long black “feelers” that usually show up in abundance in August. If you just make incidental contact with them they can leave you with a rash. I have not seen one yet.

Another caterpillar is the wooly bear, which usually predicts the severity of a winter depending on the length of the rust-colored bar on its body, and usually makes its appearance around early to mid September. So far, I have not seen one. You usually see them crossing the road everywhere. Nothing, so far, this year.

Over the last couple of weeks, however, we have heard and seen an unusually large number of Canada geese settling on Webber Pond for their break before continuing south.

This summer, we have gone through an unusually long, hot, dry spell. A time when we are pestered by yellow jackets who are in search of moisture. Well, they made their presence known this year, especially in July and August. So far, I haven’t seen a nest. So, that predictor of upcoming weather will be unreliable. Old folklore has it that the amount of snow you will receive over the winter is forecasted by where you find the nests. The higher, the more snow you can expect.

For those of you who have taken vacation time to go leaf peeping, it’s not happening at the same time this year. Have you noticed that, here in early October, the trees have just started to change colors.

One thing that did remain constant was the hummingbirds arriving and departing on schedule. Even the annual overrun by the harvestmen (daddy long legs) was not all that bad.

Things, overall, just don’t seem right in 2022. But, following some research of my journal, I found we had similar summers in 2015 and 2018. Maybe not as hot and humid, but very similar with respect to natural activities.

Even some of the old, reliable folklore observations are inconsistent. Peelings on the onions have been thin and easy to peel, indicating a mild winter, while the squirrels have some of the bushiest tails I have ever seen, an indication of a severe winter. Again, not having seen a bee hive is unreliable.

You can probably blame it on climate change; El Nino, La Nina or polar vortex, but it’s just not normal. Weather folklore warnings of a harsh winter are based on La Nina.

However, three almost identical summers within a seven-year span could spell the beginning of a pattern. I’ve heard many predictions on our upcoming winter. I don’t believe any of them. I will continue to get ready for a “Maine winter.” The oil tank is full, snowblower tuned up, and shovels ready to go. Are you?

Roland’s trivia question of the week:

Outside of Bailey Zappe, who was the last Patriots rookie quarterback to win his first NFL start?

Answer can be found here.


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