earlier posts describing my volunteer work as a guide for first graders at a local nature center. However, unlike their distinctive summer call ("It's hoooot; I'm tiiiiiired"), the fall call of the juvenile Southeastern Whiners, or SEWers, includes some different sounds that, to the trained ear, are as welcome as the yearly invasion of stink bugs. Listen closely...do you hear them? No, not that clicking and beeping-that's the parent chaperones trying to get a cell phone signal in the woods (you guys just keep trying; it'll keep your fingers from getting numb in the fall chill!) "It's cooooold! I caaan't ziiiip my jaaacket!" That's them! Listen to how they form a chorus of SEWers once one starts to whine. The whines increase in volume and intensity until they reach a near fever pitch. It's astounding!
Today was an exceptionally active day for the SEWers, as it was both slightly chilly and rainy. Now I don't know about you, but when I was a child, I LOVED playing in the rain. I would beg my mother to let me go outside and splash in the puddles. If there was a summer downpour, I would put on my swimsuit and stay outside for as long as possible. I even remember my mother giving my soap and shampoo to shower in the rain because I refused to come inside. Not so these first graders! As soon as we stepped outside onto the damp ground, it started. "It's weeet. It's raaaaaining!" We are not talking about a monsoon here. It was drizzling. No scary thunder. No lightning. Just light drizzle. Up went the protective hoodie hoods and umbrellas to shield our young SEWers from having contact with the nasty water, lest they become damp. Most of the forest walk was spent with the most vocal whiners notching up the decibels of their distress calls ("I'm getting WEEEEET! My shoes are MUD-DY!!! Can we walk FAAAASTER?!!) Perhaps the Juvenile Southeastern Whiner melts when exposed to water? I promise I will conduct further research on this issue when my next flock of SEWers arrives at the Nature Center on a rainy day. Maybe I can score a National Science Foundation grant! And donations to advance this important scientific research are always welcome!