Conservation Currents

This Time Of Year

October 2010

By Lissa Stark

A glimpse outside this time of year normally pleases the eye with vibrant colored leaves and mountains that appear painted on a canvas in golden hues. It seems as if this year, however, we may not experience such picturesque surroundings. I remain hopeful that the classic Vermont foliage will surprise me…any day now.

It’s that time of year again. The days are shorter and the nights cooler; a touch of frost here and there to remind us that winter is just around the corner. I was just getting used to the quasi-summer filled with spans of drought, flooding, and humidity. It was an odd summer that never really felt like summer, but somehow, here we are amidst the autumn once more.

There is firewood to be stacked, homes to be buttoned up, and yards to be readied for winter. On this particular day, however, I won’t be doing any of that. I will instead be mourning the loss of a dear friend, my dog, Abby. It is true that dogs are a man’s best friend; a woman’s, too. They stand by you through thick and thin, good times and bad, happiness and sadness. Always happy to see you and never overly demanding of you; a true companion.

On this somber day, it helps to put things into perspective. Take the beautiful Monarch butterfly, for example. Their average life cycle in its entirety is six to eight weeks; it grows inside the egg for about four days, then grows as a caterpillar munching on milkweed for about two weeks, then snuggles into the chrysalis for ten days, and emerges as an adult butterfly for another two to six weeks of life. In comparison, the average mayfly will live for a period of thirty minutes to one day, depending on the species. Who knew there were 630 species of mayfly in North America alone? Also interesting to note is that most of a dragonfly's life is spent in the larvae, which may last as long as five years. The adult stage of larger species of dragonfly lasts roughly four months. Five years in larvae and four months in the world.

Abby was an adorable mix of Husky and Shepard, and she would quite literally smile and dance upon meeting someone. I was asked on more than one occasion why I had opted to rescue a Dingo; of course, she was not a Dingo, but did resemble one. This had become quite the inside joke. I rescued her from a shelter in Massachusetts and she provided great canine company for my other rescue dog, Peeter. If you have never experienced the joy of rescuing a dog, I would strongly encourage you to look to your local humane society or shelter. Shelter dogs deserve loving homes and can be wonderful companions.

I can only hope that Abby is now in a better place, healthy and free, surrounded by all the treats she can eat and all the toys she can play with. Lush, green grass to lay in, warm sun, and plenty of rabbits to chase. That may sound odd, but if you knew Abby and her love of bunnies, it would make you smile. A smile amidst tears is always welcome.

Lissa works for the Bennington County Regional Commission. She serves on the Board of Supervisors of the Bennington County Conservation District, whose mission is to protect natural resources in southwestern Vermont.