John Gralenski Changes I can worry about

To the editor:

Some of the stuff I read — the shrinking of the polar ice cap, the warming of the oceans, and so on — is interesting but seems to be pretty remote. Not in just the distance, but in time. Heck, I'm to the age where I only buy half a tank of gas at once (My brother, only slightly younger, says he's stopped buying green bananas for the same reason).

I don't doubt the reports, its just that its obviously going to be somebody else's problem. But now and then, some note really bothers me and makes me consider the chance that things are happening faster than I thought, that we aren't really paying attention. I read, for instance, that there are at least 857 animal species that are not officially extinct, but nobody has seen one in the last 10 years. There are some 104 species, again, not officially extinct, that have not been seem for 100 years!

Forty some years ago, when we first moved into Shelburne, my wife used to get downright giddy driving in from Gorham on rainy nights. There were frogs all over the road. She didn't want to run over them, but there were so many that you couldn't miss them all. Every year, a couple of fox cubs would get hit by Shadow Pool while they were in the road picking up squashed frogs. I haven't seen a frog there in years.

Any summer night, you could park by Reflection Pond and listen to the rumble of bull frogs around the shore. It was the same at Moose Pond, Pontook, and all over. It's pretty quiet around there now.

I used to have about 35 bluebird houses scattered thru the valley. I would expect three to five nests of bluebirds. The rest of the houses were full of swallows. Swallows by the hundreds would rest on the wires along Meadow Road while hundreds more worked the sky over the river catching bugs.

A while back, as I drove the road, there were seven birds on the wire. The big flock over the river had six members. In my bird boxes — I'm down to 15 — there were three swallow nests, one mouse hotel, one brood of red squirrels, and no bluebirds.

Sparrow Hawks, Kestrels, were another common bird hunting in the park and hayfields along Meadow Road. They don't seem to come anymore.

Our old house was built in the 1870s. It's kind of porous, and used to be a haven for bats. Not a one for several years. And out in the garden, I don't count them, but there seem to be few bees.

I don't know what to make of it all. At least I can worry about it.

John Gralenski