Mother Nature doesn’t do shutdowns. She has way too much to do. She never takes a day off.

Take a day in autumn in Jackson Hole: There is dawn to arrange; clear or foggy, dry or rainy or even snowy. Too much wind, and leaves may fall, showing color or not. Warming spell or chill.

Will big ungulates switch their interest in mating to find food and shelter? Will fruits such as chokecherries mature, becoming sweet, ripe and ready for species of migrating birds such as cedar waxwings, robins, grosbeaks? Migrating hawks find small animals that continue to forage above ground but have lost cover as grasses and forbs complete their life cycles, die and offer less shelter.

Mom Nature has to get all her creatures ready for winter. Birds gotta fly, fish gotta swim, four-legged critters gotta fatten up and two-legged creatures gotta remember to put on snow tires.

Come nightfall (Mom has no influence on day/night hours) temperatures usually fall and a few more plants become dormant. Mom doesn’t sleep, but her pace slows, only to rev up again at dawn.

Well. In no way do I wish to diminish the influence of millions upon millions of individual actions taken by individual organisms each day. Sometimes instinctive, sometimes inadvertent, sometimes foolish. Lucky or unlucky. But Big Mam ma sets the rules.

Of course, as most of us know, a government shutdown can occur, and one now is in effect in the U.S. Or as I write. It could be over by publication, but that would require that elected officials give consideration to how their actions affect others, affect our country.

Who among us has never found himself/herself in a situation similar to the current political posturing in D.C.? It seems human beings often do: It’s your fault, not ever mine. You yield first, because I never will. Apologize or I’ll never speak to you again. It’s your fault. I don’t like you.

Been there, done that. More than once. Stubborn. Stupid. Regret now.

Just a couple of weeks ago Syria was tops in the news. Dictator, poison-gassed adults and children, civil war — all that wonderful stuff humans seem almost eager to indulge in. The U.S. seemed to be about to take some military action in another Middle East country, one that was two years in revolt.

And news reporters were incessantly reminding us that we are war-weary. Constant mention of our war-weariness.

Correct for a change. Personally, I am war-weary. Moreover I’m weary of the impasse in Washington, D.C., weary of blowhards, weary of outright liars, weary of watching our country stumble toward a financial cliff.

Weary of being weary.

Field Notes : Rumors have it that should the federal shutdown and lockout go unresolved, plans made 17 years ago to erect barriers along the one remaining highway through Gr and Teton National Park that allows traffic of any kind are being re-examined. All views of the Tetons themselves will be obscured. That’ll learn ’em.

October proceeds. Rain, wind and snow took lots of leaves off their trees. Birds continue to shuffle about. Debra Patla enjoyed groups of ruby-crowned kinglets, yellow-rumped warblers plus a hermit thrush in Buffalo Valley and a rubber boa snake in Cascade Canyon.

Alison Jones saw her first ferruginous hawk Frid ay off Fish Creek. Apparently healthy, it was a light individual. Martha Van Genderen recorded her first Lewis’ woodpecker Friday above the National Fish Hatchery. Lewis’ woodpeckers are striking birds, far too infrequently seen in Jackson Hole.

One report of common redpoll in the Hole. Seems early.

A reminder: The final fence pull for 2013 undertaken by volunteers helping the Jackson Hole Wildlife Foundation is scheduled for Saturday. For details contact the foundation. If you go, check the wildlife occasionally and report observations to Nature Mapping Jackson Hole.

When does a shutdown become a shakedown?

© Bert Raynes 2013

Bert Raynes writes weekly on whatever suits his fancy with a dash of news on nature and its many ways.

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