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It ain't necessarily so

Just when you think that you know what to expect, your assumptions are challenged. Like the 1935 Gershwin song, you find that It Ain't Necessarily So.

If you were surprised to set your clocks to daylight saving time three weeks earlier than usual, so were the computer software companies. As one Mac blogger wrote, "Our calendaring engine assumed daylight savings always would be observed at the same time year after year."

So we'll be springing forward sooner and falling back later. Maybe that's OK. We know that the first signs of spring arrive about 10 days earlier worldwide than a decade ago, according to a Stanford University study. In fact, some cherry trees in Washington, D.C., bloom a month earlier than a half century ago.

What about that harbinger of spring, the robin? As winters become milder, robins in areas with more fruit-bearing trees stay year-round.

Instead, watch for the red-winged blackbirds. A Purdue University ecologist says when they leave winter flocks and move back to ditches and fields, spring truly is on its way.

By mid-March, the squirrels will have exhausted their food supply. Gray squirrels use a scatter-hoarding strategy. They bury single nuts in many locations. Since they're "squirrelly," they don't find each nut.

Red squirrels practice larder hoarding. They collect nuts and pile all of them above the ground.

You might assume that the red squirrels are a superior breed. But it ain't necessarily so. Seven times as many black walnuts germinate when gathered by gray squirrels compared to red ones. Regeneration of central hardwood forests depends upon a healthy gray squirrel population.

Over the past century, suburbs and farms have encroached on wildlife habitats. Red squirrels, native to coniferous forests, have moved into regions where they've never lived. Gray squirrels have declined.

As we wipe winter's residue from our kitchen windows, the sight of new lambs and calves is a sure sign of spring. We can count on crocus and daffodils to emerge from the snow.

But other assumptions are being challenged by our human footprint. Evidence of unwise energy and land use is apparent in daylight saving time, snowbird robins, hardwood forests, and climate changes.

Too many of us suffer from the bystander syndrome. We simply assume there will be a positive outcome. But it ain't necessarily so. We are accountable for our actions -- as well as our inaction.

Youth, like sapling walnut trees, are the future. We cultivate a new generation in 4-H, school, and FFA. What will be our legacy to them?

As we lie awake adjusting to the spring time change, let's reflect on how the gray squirrels' method enables acorns to sprout away from the shade of a parent tree. Let's not exhaust the world's larder. How much better to leave our children a legacy of bountiful resources.

Just when you think that you know what to expect, your assumptions are challenged. Like the 1935 Gershwin song, you find that It Ain't Necessarily So.

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