Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Diary

This morning I hiked up to Abbey Pond, which is on the trail closest to the house, for the second time this year. Although there are no scenic vistas, there is the pond, with beaver lodges and a beaver dam. One benefit is that it isn't popular with hikers, and usually no one else is to be seen. There is a good view of Robert Frost Mountain, which actually consists of two peaks if you count the one that we can see from our house. This time there wasn't a moose around, but I did see a bobcat at fairly close range – about fifty yards – on the way back. I took along a gun for protection for the first time, because there have been a few incidents recently. Over the summer, people were attacked at two different locations by rabid coyotes, and in October, two hikers were attacked by five large bear hounds. The dogs seem to have been interested in the hikers' poodle and injured both the poodle and the woman who was trying to protect it. At times the hikers thought they were going to die. The ordeal ended after about half an hour when one of the hunters showed up. They had been tracking the dogs through their GPS collars and saw that they had something cornered. This is a major news story locally, because state law permits hunting dogs to run freely in packs, and in this case the owner may only receive the equivalent of a ticket. If something were to happen to me while I was up there alone, there would be no help: the nearest person would be miles away, and there is no cell reception.

When we moved to Vermont, I thought that I would be doing much more hiking than I actually have. Unfortunately, I usually go alone, since my only possible hiking companion hates insects, doesn't like to sweat and prefers knitting. I haven't been to any of the major peaks in Vermont, some of which contain entirely different biomes, resembling alpine tundra at their summits. However, I'm not a hiking fanatic, like the people around here who climb all of the 46 high peaks in the Adirondacks or hike the entire length of the Long Trail, which runs from Massachusetts to Canada. I just like to be outdoors, see the scenery and get my heart rate up occasionally. Today I had it up to 180 beats per minute and didn't die! The Abbey Pond trail is fairly steep in places, with a total ascent of 1260 feet. Of course, that is nothing compared to newer ranges that are more than twice as high. At one time, about 450 million years ago, the Green Mountains were much taller, but they've eroded down to 4000 feet.

The mouse saga continues. The mice involved are either white-footed mice or deer mice, which look very similar to each other. Perhaps because of improved growing conditions for oaks and other plants, there is more mouse food available than usual, such as acorns, and there may be a local mouse population explosion. I know this because I find new mouse remains on the porch almost daily. William also continues to bring in live mice, which he releases and chases around the porch. When they climb the screens to escape, he sometimes follows after them, damaging the screens, and I repair them often. My latest solution has been to open small holes next to the screen frames on the porch floor so that the mice can escape without any climbing. This doesn't guarantee their survival, but will probably reduce screen damage. I also hope to spend less time removing live mice from the porch. I appreciate the reader who signed me up for a Stoelting catalog for research equipment involving mice, but I don't need it. That seemed like a highbrow joke.

In Vermont, the change from autumn to winter is usually abrupt. We are still eating fresh tomatoes, carrots and kale from the garden, yet it is snowing tomorrow. In very short order, I had to clear the leaves from the yard, mow the lawn one last time, service the yard equipment for the winter, put away the outdoor furniture and clean up parts of the garden. I will have to put on my snow tires soon. Comparatively, the transitions from winter to spring, spring to summer and summer to fall are slow and indistinct.

It looks as if the world is finally closing in on Donald Trump. Of course, I am delighted by the impeachment proceedings. There is still a chance that he will get through this in one piece, but as time goes on that seems unlikely. The Ukraine quid pro quo event has already been proven beyond any reasonable doubt, and that alone is sufficient to have him removed from office. If Republicans continue to support him in the Senate and he isn't removed, his popularity among the general public has probably already declined enough that he wouldn't be reelected. He would definitely lose the popular vote, and his electoral college vote only needs to decline slightly for him to lose. Many people throughout the country hate him, and he is even unpopular in his hometown, New York City. He has now changed his legal residence to Florida, and apropos of that I really enjoyed this satirical video.

I have a couple of books to read. One is on biological extinction and the other is on population ethics. These are academic books with dense prose, and I'm not sure yet how much time I'll spend on them, though the subjects are definitely important.

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