Frass is the technical term for insect poo. It has a nice hiss to it, probably very appropriate to what the oak stand I was in today would have sounded like at the height of the gypsy moth infestation this year.
It is truly weird to walk through a good quality oak forest, with plenty of mature red and white oaks, in the summer….in full sun. It should, of course, be deep shade. It felt like one of those odd days that happen in March when the temperature spikes but there are no leaves yet, except the sun angle was wrong and the other foliage said late summer. Almost complete defoliation of every single oak tree in sight. It is difficult to really grasp the scope of the damage, because for half the year that is a completely appropriate ‘look’ for an oak tree. So it isn’t that it is a ‘wrong’ sight so much as it is an ‘out of season’ one, and that creates a certain dislocation of time and a certain difficulty in comparison: we’ve seen that oak tree looking that way before and it was normal, but now it isn’t normal.
The mind is an odd thing, we rely on so many different cues to stand there and say ‘summer’. The logical, rational calendar is perhaps the weakest of the lot.