Fall 2018 in NW Alabama

Reader Contribution by Mary Carton
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Fall has arrived in the south. So far, it’s not sweater weather. Temperatures are still in the nineties.

Hummingbirds see to be staying around a lot longer than previous years. Maybe it’s the effect of all the tropical storms, or the warm weather.

The first weekend in October and I still have three feeders up, and seeing several birds. A large percentage of corn has been harvested, along with early planted soybeans.

Beans planted later are starting to show a yellow fall color. Farmers have defoliated cotton and started picking.

Most have switched to the pickers, which makes the large round bales wrapped in plastic that are easier to store in at the gin or barns until it can be cleaned and baled. It is able to pick more cotton than the old-style pickers.

They have less waste than the pods that were used previously. The pods were made on the ground, so the bottom layer would be lost if it stayed out in the field, especially with a lot of rain.

Temperatures have been in the nineties, above normal, through the first part of October. We had a warm fall and winter in 2010, and had a big snow storm the next January.

I lost a lot of dogwoods and fruit trees that year. This week temperatures have been below normal with temperatures in the seventies.

I’m getting over food poisoning from a local restaurant in which over 170 became ill from a norovirus. It took a while for my stomach to get back to normal.

You’d think if you were basically on a liquid diet for a couple of weeks, one would lose weight. But no.

Now it’s the attack of the giant ragweed. I was checking fencing, and had to go through it and goldenrod down along the dry creek.

That night, I had a sore throat, plus stuffy ears. The coughing was so bad, even the ‘Recipe’ couldn’t help.

Thanks to my Facebook friends, they placed my lost copy of the 1962 cough syrup prescription from a Pediatrician. I had legal moonshine, lemon juice, local honey and peppermint for making it.

It helped for a little while, but every time I went outside around the ragweed, I would have a relapse. Being a Microbiologist, I don’t like to take antibiotics unless absolutely necessary.

After a week, I could see I was heading toward a case of pneumonia. A trip to the doctor, and a change in antihistamine/decongestant and a course of antibiotics greatly helped.

With everything going on, I still was able to take a media ride a Pathfinder B17 bomber the “Madras Maiden” operated by the Liberty Foundation. It is only one of twelve B17’s that still fly today.

The media were given a preview of the plane the week before she was available for public tours designed as a fundraiser for the 1.5 million dollars needed to keep the “Madras Maiden” in the air and out of a museum. We were taken on a low-level trip around the Huntsville International Airport in Huntsville, Alabama.

The flight made me appreciate what our airmen went through while flying the aircraft. I could imagine how cold it was flying at its highest altitude with all the open-air turrets, and gun bays.

When flying in rain, the inside of the plane would get wet. I could imagine what they went through trying to stay in the air without being shot down.

The B17’s held twelve 500-pound bombs in a bay right behind the pilot’s compartment. In order to go from the back part of the plane to the front, you walked through the middle of the bombs, six on each side, on a narrow I beam.

If one of the bombs were hit during battle and it exploded, along with the other eleven, nothing would be left. There was a total of 12,732 B-17’s that were produced between 1935 and May 1945.

Of these 4,735 were lost in combat. In a single 376 plane raid in August 1943, 60 B-17s were shot down. That was a 16 percent loss rate and meant 600 empty bunks in England.

In 1942-43 it was statistically impossible for bomber crews to complete a 25-mission tour in Europe.

After we got back on the ground, both elbows had boo-boos from trying to get through the bomb bay during the flight. It was a once in a lifetime experience.

My hope is that the public will continue to support the Liberty Foundation’s mission and keep this aircraft flying. The younger generation needs to know what their grandparents went through to defend their freedom.

I entered a press lottery for press box or sideline passes for Auburn’s home games. I drew the Southern Miss and the Tennessee games.

I was able to go to the Southern Miss game, but had the allergy crud for the Tennessee game. The game with Southern Mississippi started at three p.m.

A lightning delay for an hour and half with four minutes left in the second quarter, meant the game was over after nine p.m. I got home to Tuscumbia around two a.m.

Auburn’s Bald eagle, Spirit, flew from one of the stadium towers to start the game, and circled around the inside of the stadium before landing in the center of the field. Since it was homecoming, fellow alumni Governor Kay Ivey was there, and I was able to meet her.

Auburn’s mascot, Aubie noticed I was taking his picture and put on a show for me.

Cooler weather started this week. With the cooler weather, some of the water birds are back at the river.

I saw my last hummingbird on October 6, but one of my feeders in a spot that I can’t see from the house, looks like it is being used. I’ll leave my feeders up until the first part of November.

Monarchs and other butterflies and dragonflies have disappeared. I need to bring plants into the garage that I want to keep over winter soon.

Hopefully there won’t be a snake trying to hibernate in one of them this year. The Hooligans aren’t happy when they see one in a hanging basket.

Photos property of Mary Carton.

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