Why do so many more jet trails show up in the sky this time of year? I'm sure there's a good scientific explanation based on such factors as air temperatures and winds aloft, the refraction of the light based on the angle of the sun, and other things about which I don't have a clue.
I could look it up, I suppose, or ask someone who took more science classes than I did and probably paid more attention during them. Or I could just enjoy the patterns of the white streaks against the blue autumn skies, and let it go at that.
It's been a beautiful fall in the Black Hills this year, and we've appreciated it all the more because last year we didn't really get one. October started out with snow and bitter cold, which caught many of us unprepared in matters of snow tires, storing garden hoses, and getting out flannel sheets. Even worse, it caught the trees while the leaves were still green, so the fall colors consisted of brown, brown, and brown. This year, though, the trees got to dress up in their best yellows, reds, and golds. Mild days and crisp nights allowed the leaves to stay on display for a long time before they let go and flew to the ground.
Autumn also brings some less appealing flying objects. Our house has been full of flies and wasps. As far as I can tell, they hatch out somewhere inside the window sills, where they become trapped between the window and the screen. Sometimes they crawl around in there, buzzing and bumping up against the glass, until some kind soul can't stand their noise any more and opens the window to let them out.
Sometimes they slip under the edge of the screen into the house, where they buzz back and forth until they collapse on the dining room table. There they lie on their backs, legs kicking faintly, buzzing intermittently like a toy whose battery is giving out, until they expire.
I am not unsympathetic. I don't kill these innocent creatures wantonly or maliciously. At the same time, I don't really feel it's my responsibility to rescue them when they crawl across the kitchen faucet, ignoring my efforts to shoo them away, until they slip and fall into the dishwater and drown.
Compassion and understanding, however, were not my first reactions the other day when a wasp got caught in my hair. I could feel it crawling around in there, buzzing frantically much too close to my ear, and after trying to shake it out and brush it out with my fingers I made a dash for the bathroom to grab my hairbrush and brush it out before it stung me.
The other night at bedtime was the last straw. I went into the bathroom to brush my teeth, and there on the floor was the biggest spider I had ever seen. (Well, except for the tarantulas at Reptile Gardens, which don't count as they are safely behind glass instead of in the middle of my bathroom.) This one was huge and thick and black.
For an instant I stood frozen, trying to decide whether to step on the spider, run for the flyswatter, or just screech. That instant gave me a chance to take a closer look at the terrifying critter.
It was a plastic hair clip. Never mind.