Signs of the plague.
Saturday, I took the dog to the woods in the Common and had just entered our usual path when I heard what sounded like rain. Darn, I thought—I hadn't seen a single cloud when I left. How could it be raining? But the sound of raindrops on the leaves was unmistakable.
I stopped in the clearing where two paths crossed and put my hand on my head: nothing. Not a single drop. I went on, and heard the sound of raindrops hitting the leaves again...or was that something else?
Suddenly I felt as if there had been some disturbance in the force. I peered into the trees, looking for...large animals pissing? Small animals hissing? Aliens, doing god knows what?
I couldn't see anything, but I heard the noise the whole time I was in the trees. Yet it stopped as soon as I left the wood. Shade loving aliens, perhaps.
Fast forward fifteen minutes. I get home, and glance at my hand: an inchworm, about a half-inch long, measuring my hand as though for a glove. I went to show my husband, and he picked more inchworms off my shirt, and I shook a few off my hair. (Conveniently, I'd discovered a bird nest right by the kitchen door, and so I tossed the worms out the door, hoping the mother bird would find them and not have to leave her nest for long to find food.)
Last night, when I walked through the woods I heard the sound again. But this time the leaves showed obvious signs of abuse. Some twigs were bare, and most of the remaining leaves had large holes eaten through them.
I brought home more worms, gave them to the song thrush, and today, remembered to bring my camera. I imagine this will be the lead story in Thursday's local paper: Plague arrives in the Common! Trees denuded in mere days!
Aliens would have been more exciting, and perhaps less destructive.