Here in Southwest Wisconsin, it's turned into a good old-fashioned hot, dry summer. At night the temperature drops to the upper sixties, making nice sleeping weather. By noon each day, though, the mercury is over 90 and rising, with some reports of 100 degrees in the area.
I know people who prefer a very cold winter day to a very hot summer day. I think many of these people have never felt what it's like to be very cold for a long time. It's hard to relate from the cozy warmth of our houses. If the wild creatures could speak to use, they would tell us how it feels to try to stay warm when it's 20 below zero for 2 weeks or more. Surely these hot summer days don't compare with that.
I myself have spent many winter days and nights huddled by a woodstove when it's 20 or 30 below zero. It's tough living closer to nature in those harsh conditions. I'll take a steamy summer day anytime.
The wild birds and animals adjust to the hot weather by laying low, for the most part. Early mornings and late in the day are the times of action. This morning at sunup, I watched a mother Wood duck swim slowly across the still, misty pond, with six fuzzy brown ducklings at her side. I've always felt that there is nothing sweeter to see than a newborn fawn, but baby ducklings tug pretty hard on my heartstrings.
By mid-afternoon, there isn't much bird activity in the yard. Many are in the shady areas along the creek, river or woods. The tiny Hummingbird hovers near the flowers that are in the shade, gathering nectar from the Phlox and tall Bellflowers. In the late afternoon, when the shadows grow long, the hummers return to the beds of Bee balm near the sunny south side of the house.
Many birds take advantage of the shallow creek near the barn. I have spotted them bathing on the wet rocks of the stream. Robins are the most frequent bathers, but in the past week I've seen a bluebird, catbird, barn swallow, wood thrush, and a crow all splashing in the cool water. I can't blame them; it's a great way to cool off. I too find myself wading knee-deep in the cool stream a few times a day.
When it's hot, the cows gather under whatever shade trees they can find in the pasture. They try to stand still and stay cool, but the pesky deer flies won't leave them alone. You can see the cows twitching their ears and switching their tails constantly, to fend off the biting flies. They will welcome the cool night air, and will do most of their grazing after dark.
The white tailed deer are also mostly nocturnal, especially when it's hot and the flies are bad.
The warm weather has brought another hatch of large Dragonflies, who dash about, catching mosquitoes in midair. They look like little green and blue airplanes, zipping around the garden.
A lazy gray squirrel tries to beat the heat by stretching out on a tree limb with his feet dangling underneath and his bushy tail straight out behind him. Some fur-bearing animals find relief by going underground. Woodchucks, foxes and badgers stay mainly in their burrows in the cool earth during these days.
How you decide to beat the heat is up to you. You can keep cool in an air-conditioned house or office, but sometimes you might want to be more creative. Wading in a creek, or taking a dip in a river or lake (or pool if none is around) are fun ways to cool off. The hot weather is a good excuse to go canoeing, to take a boat ride, or to nap in the shade. Add fun to your life by letting Nature help keep you cool!
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