Wednesday, January 24, 2007
In the Bleak Midwinter
Winter arrived here late this year, but it is trying to make up for lost time with persistent snow and cold temperatures. There have been light flurries every day this week, and the accumulation is significant as the thermometer stays well below freezing.
On Tuesday, I noticed that the river was freezing over, and when I went to the trail after work, there was only a small amount of open water around the concrete pillars of the bridge. It was so strange to walk along the banks and hear no running water, no birds, no squirrels, just deep winter silence. A lone hawk flew above the ice, and I had a good view of him when he landed on a treetop. I took a photo using the digital zoom on my little pocket-sized camera, and it was good enough to identify a juvenile Cooper's hawk, but not good enough to post here. This is the extreme northern range of their winter habitat and the dinner menu did not look very promising. There were plenty of rabbit tracks though and beneath his tree perch I found a pile of feathers from a small bird.
This is a hard time for animals and birds. My pampered pet has no idea how easy his life is compared to his wild cousins. To him, snow is for tunneling, rolling, and frolicking and he does not tire of playing in it. The only thing that bothers him at this time of year is road salt. We try to avoid walks on sidewalks as the salt gets in his paws and causes him to limp after a few blocks. I see some little dogs wearing boots to protect their feet, but I am sure Dakota would be quite insulted if we tried to dress him up.
If I knew for sure that the snow was going to stay like this for another six weeks, I would be tempted to invest in a pair of snowshoes. The new light weight models are much smaller and sleeker than the large traditional ones made of wood and leather. Even with snowshoes, I wouldn't be venturing out on the river. The ice is not very thick and the current still runs swiftly below the surface.
I enjoyed being out today, but am glad that this is not Narnia, "always winter, and never Christmas". Spring is around the corner.
(For a great spring post, look here on Mary's View)