Thursday, July 28, 2005

Frogs and Football
The weather has been lovely in Wisconsin this week. The heat wave broke Monday night, and the windows have been open ever since. The new bypass opened a couple of weeks ago, so there's not quite as much traffic noise now--the birds can drown it out, and they do.

Somewhere out in my front yard, a tree frog is buzzing. They have a high-pitched call that sounds as if it would come from a large insect rather than an amphibian, but frogs they are. (And they really do live in trees.) Although I have heard them every summer for as long as I can remember, I have never actually seen one.

You usually hear tree frogs up here starting sometime in late July. When I was a kid, my mother would greet the sound of the first tree frog by saying, "Six weeks till frost." (People say the same things about crickets and cicadas, I guess, but never around my house.) We're not really six weeks away from the first frost, but we're closer than you might think. Historically, our first frost occurs in this area during the last week of September--so the tree frog is only off by a couple of weeks.

Another sign of the changing seasons arrived today--Packers camp officially opened in Green Bay. We have other team sports up here, sure. We hunt, we play Texas Hold 'Em, just like everywhere else. But Wisconsin is, first and last, a football state. Maybe not a football factory state, like Texas or Florida, but a place that knows its football and relishes it. The Packers' first preseason game is two weeks from tonight, and although it means nothing, every football fan will watch at least part of it. Some of us will sit through it all.

Also today, the University of Wisconsin announced that football coach and athletic director Barry Alvarez will give up his coaching duties after this season. In Wisconsin, only Brett Favre is more beloved than Alvarez, who resuscitated the Wisconsin football program in the early 1990s and with it, the entire UW athletic department. The Badgers won three Rose Bowls during Alvarez' tenure--and to comprehend the magnitude of that accomplishment, consider that long before Alvarez was hired, many of us had given up hope of ever seeing one. If Alvarez wanted to run for Wisconsin governor next year, he'd probably win.

So we've got our tree frogs and we've got our football, and in a few days the calendar will turn to August. You think there's one more month of summer left? Nope. Up here, it's feeling like autumn already.

A Man Has Got to Know His Limitations: When it comes to blogging, I'm strictly an amateur. Digby and Publius are professionals. Go read now.

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