It’s raining leaves

The weather’s been unusual enough this year that fall colors and the actual fall of leaves from the trees is late. This morning, though, after last night’s hard frost, it was literally raining leaves, at least if you were standing under the ashes and walnuts and a gingko tree at the park.



Two warblers

I’m trying to remember when I’ve seen more miserable weather in May. Maybe those overly hot spring days in Mississippi. But we’ve gone from fine bicycling weather earlier this week to 40s and all-day rain. It will 90 degrees F in a week.

In the midst of yesterday’s unpleasant downpour, I led my group of fourth graders into the blacksmith shop as part of their tour. There, just inside the entrance was a dying bird. A little tiny one, probably a chestnut-sided warbler according to Roger Tory Peterson.

“That dying little bird,” I thought, “is going to be a distraction to me, these kids, and everybody who walks in this morning.” So I moved it off out of sight. It was pretty sad.

If I had to guess, the chestnut-sided warbler migrated up to Iowa on its way to wherever and got caught in the cold, took refuge shivering in the rafters, and then keeled over onto the dusty shop floor. Anyway, this weather’s a mess; a phenological disaster in the making.

Then again, in the afternoon as I got into my car to go home, I saw a black-and-white warbler spryly attacking the trunk of a tree in the parking lot. I’ve never seen two interesting warblers with so little effort.

Reference calls

In the last couple of years I’ve been getting more reference calls about people with whom I’ve worked. I always thought providing references would be a straightforward task but often it isn’t. A lot of it has to do with the questions I’m asked. A common one is “Would you hire this person again?” I think that’s a very strange question, because it’s conditional on so many factors: like what the job is and who else is applying for it. Even somebody who was a very good worker could be in competition with someone more qualified.

I’m also asked questions I couldn’t possibly answer. Today I got a call about an applicant for a position in a remote area. If, I was asked, a hiker came to this remote area and had a heart attack and died (which could happen), how do I think the applicant would be able to deal with it? I am not a psychologist, certainly I am not the applicant’s psychologist, and if I was the answer might not be knowable. To be fair, even seasoned rescue workers need counseling when things like that happen.

Asking reference questions is as much of an art as answering them.


Award for best costume goes to…

I went to an elementary school to meet with some teachers this afternoon. It was right after classes ended and, since it’s Halloween, the halls were filled with kids dressed up in their costumes. I asked one girl, about seven years old in a white wig carrying a bucket of popcorn, “Who are you?” She said, “I’m Orville Redenbacher.” Yes, indeed. Another kid was dressed as Steve Urkel. If I had to take a stab at figuring this out, I’d say their parents are enjoying a vicarious Halloween.