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  • I’m looking out my window at pines that are more brown than green. “Oh, darn, the dreaded pine beetle,” I say to myself. Driving around the roads today I saw lots of pines already gone and lots of others on the way out.
  • It’s that time of year again. Greens turn to yellows, reds, and oranges. Colorful birds flit from treetop to treetop, feeder to feeder. Gray squirrels and blue jays gather and sequester bronzy acorns. Azure skies sail overhead and morph into carmine-purple sunsets, then 7-to-7 uninterrupted black. Better to appreciate the harlequin days against a backdrop of lightless nights. Yes, it’s fall, and isn’t that grand?
  • While we see if Hurricane Matthew, a humdinger of a storm in the Caribbean Sea as of Monday, comes to us or spins off toward Europe, it’s a good time to go over some of the coastal terms that we have all heard from past experiences, but may have faded into the non-recall department.
  • It’s the season for migrating monarch butterflies.
  • In the 1940s almost every family on the North Fork had at least one dog and one cat. Many families kept a larger menagerie — pigs, chickens, goats, cows, and sometimes a horse or two. Horses were an extravagance; you couldn’t eat them nor did they give milk or lay eggs, and they were no longer needed to pull plows and other farm implements, having been replaced in the 1920s and 1930s by tractors.
  • America is making progress at bringing back lost species of flowers and plants, while simultaneously better protecting animal species that were most vulnerable. The gray wolf and grizzly bear, two species that were approaching extinction in the latter quarter of the 20th century, are now becoming so common in some areas that several states allow hunters to shoot them.
  • I led a nature walk at Shadmoor State Park for a nice couple from Amagansett who won the walk in the East Hampton Ladies Village Improvement Society auction held on July 30. Their son and a girlfriend, as well as another woman friend and her son, also accompanied us. I took my large white towel along and swept the vegetation on the sides of the trails as we marched on in the chance that I might find a tick or two. Shadmoor is well known for its large deer tick and Lone Star tick populations.
  • All animals of a species have culture. If we accept the notion that plants communicate with one another underground via mycorrhizal connections, plants also have culture. In evolution, not only does a species adapt to changing climes and competition by evolving adaptations — as a fish evolving lungs to become an amphibian — but a species also changes its behavior to keep up with quicker changes in its environment.
  • Long Island is the biggest island by far in the Long Island archipelago. This archipelago may not be a true archipelago like the Galapagos in the South Pacific off Ecuador or the Channel Islands off Southern California in the middle Pacific or the San Juan Islands off Washington in the northern Pacific. The status of Long Island as an island has long been in doubt, separated as it is from the rest of New York by the East River. The United States Supreme Court — lawyers, mind you, not coastal geologists or geographers — ruled 9 to 0 that Long Island is not an island but part of New York State’s mainland.
  • Some human domiciles are 1,000 years old or more. Several on Long Island date back to the late 1600s. Most houses, however, have lost their sense of permanence. Fifty years ago, one would never raze a house to build another one unless it was severely storm damaged or ravaged by fire. Nowadays, houses built in the last quarter of the 20th century are falling to new, larger ones right and left. Houses have lost their sense of permanence just as we who live in them have lost our sense of immortality.