Every once in a while, we enjoy an influx of exotic birds, brought here on strong winds or by a shortage of food in their home territories. Ornithologists call it an “irruption.” There was a tragic example in late May of 1974 when strong southwesterly winds blew scarlet tanagers all the way north to New Hampshire, where there were no insects for them to eat. I will never forget their flame-red bodies littering a green field.
Over the last two winters, we have been blessed with an abundance of snowy owls coming south in search of prey. In this case, it was not winds but an abundance of lemmings, the owl’s favorite snack, that expanded their territory and led to our shock when one of the white phantoms flew through the beam of our headlights.
This being a presidential election year, we can expect a political irruption as candidates from all corners of the nation flock to New Hampshire for the first primary of the season. We can look forward to shaking hands with shivering would-be Chief Executives at diners and factory gates and answering questions from the national reporters who follow. One of those reporters, perhaps disoriented by the cold, once asked me how I liked living in Vermont.
“This is New Hampshire,” I said. He wrote it down.