By Sarah Schrock

With the rising of the harvest moon this week, strange things in the animal world are happening.

My dog, for one, goes a little bonkers during the full moon, running between doors in the wee hours of the night, begging to be let out to howl and bark at nothing — a primal call to her pack, I suppose.

Stranger still, another hoary bat showed up dead along the West Chewuch this week and was delivered to Kent Woodruff at Cinnamon Twisp Bakery, where he positively identified it as the elusive creature it is.

“DO NOT PASS.” “PASS WITH CARE.” These signs are ubiquitous along the highways.  However, lately something bizarre has happened to them. It’s as if the posts on which they stand have grown, reaching up into the ethers like a ship’s mast. Am I the only one who has noticed?  On your next drive, look for them. Seriously, they are so out of balance, with nearly 2 feet of excess post sticking above the signboards.

Why the new posts? Did the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) get a super-cheap deal on a hundreds of overly tall posts? Did the specifications change and this makes them more visible? Whatever the reason, they look ridiculous and I would like for the regular-sized posts to be reinstituted. Where’s the Monkey Wrench Gang when you need ’em? A midnight chopping off of a few feet of overly tall posts wouldn’t be too incriminating, would it? No, I am not advocating vandalism here, but if WSDOT has an explanation for need of the ridiculously tall posts, please explain.

Speaking of chopping off tops, this is the time of year we often start pruning back the growth in our yards. Did you know that you should never top a tree? Topping trees creates long-term problems for the health and strength of the tree. 

The tallest or leading branches of a tree are known as the apical meristems and contain the control center of tree’s growth hormones. When the apical meristem of a tree is cut off, it sends a stress signal to the rest of the tree to vigorously bud out and rapidly grow more branches. In the short term, this creates a fast-growing, bushy, seemingly healthy crown of lush growth.

However, these new branches tend to be weaker and more spindly. The fast-growing branches can also suck energy from the trees reserves. Also, topped trees result in unnatural shapes that deviate from the original crown shape and can lead to blow-downs or branch breakage because the trunk or older branches can’t support the new bushy crown. When a tree becomes too large for a space, there are ways to prune and thin it that don’t involve topping it. Consult with an arborist or expert beforehand. Locally, Teresa Miller, a master gardener, can help with tree care.  Dwight Filer, president of the Tree Board, is another resource.

Now that the moon is waning, the animals can begin their winter preparations and start acting normal again — except for the deer, who will progressively begin to get antsy as the waves of camo and hunters’ orange begin to filter into the hills. Before it’s too late, make sure to get into the high country for a colorful display of oranges, reds, yellows and browns that is well underway.


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