Nature’s Thermometer – The Cricket’s Lullabye

It has been a long time since I’ve posted, and even longer since I’ve been out to the garden for anything other than to add to the compost pile, and feel immense waves of guilt of the status of the weeds.

Returning to school has been far more challenging than I remembered from my other foray into the post-2008 economic downturn. Perhaps it’s in part due to the necessity of parenting two tweens whom, I’ve found, are curious and skittish about the world around them.

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Crickets love to hide amongst the strawberries

Each night they patter into my office to ‘do homework’ and once settled, they pepper me with questions, seeking advice on how to answer to and interact with the world around them. Though I’ve not been ‘farming’ the outdoors, cultivating the hearts and minds of two young adults has been a constant.

Today was a beautiful late-summer day, and thankfully after a week of exams and project due dates, my usual non-stop schedule and ToDo list could be put on hold, so I took the afternoon off to spend time outside.

Promising that I’d spend ‘only an hour’ working and the rest of my time relaxing and soaking up the last of the summer sun, I instead spent several hours weeding, pruning, digging and lastly, watering. I pushed myself further than I should have and I know that I’ll pay for it tomorrow by way of stiff joints, but today it was worth every moment and my dirt stained hands are proof that growing things is part of my soul.

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and the sage… 

Relaxing on the patio with a large glass of iced tea, I surveyed the work that’s been done as I soaked in what is likely to be one of the summer’s last cricket lullabies.

Growing up in Spokane, we didn’t have crickets and it was only when I’d visit my Grandparent’s farm that I’d be able to experience the chorus that I’d only read about in books, or saw in episodes of ‘Little House on the Prairie’.

After the first night in our Fort Collins home, we knew that it was likely to be our forever home – we’d gone to bed with the serenade of crickets, and awoke to the chatter and song of birds outside our window.

We noticed a variation to the nightly soundtrack that first summer. Some evenings the sound was ear-piercingly loud and frenzied, yet others were calm and soothing.

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… but it’s underneath the pumpkin leaves that Nature’s thermometer thrives until autumn’s frost.

Thumbing through an ‘Old Farmer’s Almanac’ for bits of humor, trivia, and weather predictions (a habit I picked up from my Grandmother) I found a blurb on how you can use cricket chirps as Nature’s thermometer. Searching around to see if there was any science to this, or if it was just a parlour trick, I found that not only is this scientifically sound, but it has a name – Dolbear’s Law.

Indeed Friends, you can use the crickets’ lullaby as a temperature gage. Try it for yourself – it’s surprisingly simple – just count the number of cricket chirps that you hear in 14 seconds, add 40 to it and within a degree or two – you have the ambient temperature in degrees Fahrenheit. (You can visit the site to see how to convert to Celsius).

Do note though, that crickets are exotherms – their body temperatures are dependent on air or ground temperatures – so the accuracy of nature’s thermometer diminishes once temperatures fall below 55-60 degrees – explaining why you can hear the cricket’s song grow silent as the nights grow cooler when fall approaches.

So, the next time you are out and about or relaxing after a long day and you hear their song, see if you too can tell the temperature using the crickets lullaby.

Until next time, may your knees be green, and your spirits light.

Amy

 

 

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