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MARTHA SEZ: Leave it to the states

March 23, 2017
By MARTHA ALLEN , Lake Placid News

The blackbirds still aren't here, and I don't blame them.

Maybe they got buried under the 3 feet of snow that fell last week and have gone into hypothermic shock. It should take just a couple of sunny days to free them from their icy spell and get them going again.

Those blackbirds are tough. But they are not here yet.

It's the male red-winged blackbirds, accompanied by starlings and grackles and those skanky cowbirds who lay their eggs in other birds' nests, who come along first, usually in early to mid-March. I always look forward to their annual migration to the Adirondacks because it is one of the very first signs of spring.

Cowbirds really have no sense of family values, and I think when the Republicans make up their federal budget they should leave the cowbirds out of it entirely. What about the baby cowbirds, though? Some birds, for instance robins, refuse to foster the little changelings, and knock them right out of the nest. It's not the baby cowbirds' fault. Shouldn't we do something? No.

I hold with Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), who recently referred to the cowbird hatchlings as "someone else's babies." I say leave it to the states.

Speaking of being under an icy spell, I have noticed that all little girls, whether or not they have ever seen the Disney movie "Frozen," have memorized the soundtrack and can even tell the two main characters, Elsa and Anna, apart. It's as if "Frozen" entered their bodies in the very air they breathe, and went straight to their brains, quite possibly becoming part of their DNA. If my theory is correct, "Frozen" must attach to the X chromosome, because little boys are apparently unaffected.

Oh yes, in a short video my daughter Molly sent me, my 4-year-old granddaughter Emma sings "Let it Go" while her little brother Jack, who is 3, tries to sing along in the background, but that's because he is just naturally following the lead of his older sibling. I figure the minute a garbage truck rumbles down the street, Jack will be at the window watching the men load trash, transfixed, all thoughts of Elsa and Anna forgotten.

Yes, girls, just like boys, must be allowed the right to fixate on garbage trucks and power tools and things that catch on fire and blow up, and I believe we should leave that to the states.

The other day a customer came into the store where I work and said he saw a black bear between Keene and Lake Placid. This was one of those sunny, comparatively warm days we've had this month, but I wouldn't have thought it was anything to come out of hibernation for.

This man then said, well, he shouldn't say the bear came out of hibernation, because bears don't truly hibernate. They do something else instead, but couldn't remember the word.

Later on, I Googled "Do bears hibernate?" (What did we do before the internet and fake news? We looked it up in the encyclopedia or consulted handy reference tomes in big libraries, or we called the reference librarian, or we asked our granddad or Uncle Frank or our friend Melanie because they knew all that stuff.)

It turns out that scientists used to say that black bears and grizzly bears do not truly hibernate, but rather go into a state of dormancy, torpor, winter sleep, dormancy or- my favorite- carnivorean lethargy. When biologists took into account that bears can go for as long as seven months without eating, drinking, urinating or defecating, they changed their minds on the subject, so it is once again correct to say that bears hibernate in the winter. In fact, biologists went back retroactively to state that bears always did hibernate in the winter, despite what your Uncle Frank had to say on the subject.

According to Eric C. Hellgren at Texas A&M University-Kingsville, in his study "Physiology of Hibernation in Bears," 1998, "Is the physiological state attained by bears during the denning period appropriately termed hibernation? Over 30 years of research in the laboratories of G.E. Folk, Jr. and R.A. Nelson, among others, have led investigators to unequivocally state that hibernation is the fitting term for the dormant or torpid state of bears during denning."

So that's settled anyway. As to the question - "When will spring arrive?"-I'll leave that to the states. Keep warm, and have a good week.



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