Archive for February, 2012

Is It Spring Yet . . . ?

Sunday, February 26th, 2012

Tufted Titmouse

Snowy delight?

“Peter, Peter, Peter!” declare the tufted titmice.

“Cheer! Cheer! Cheer!” chimes in the cardinal.

The bluebirds chortle quietly in agreement.

Turkeys explore the hayfield hilltop – perhaps staking out territories for soon-to-come strutting and gobbling and showing off for the hens.

Further south, there are reports of killdeer, red-winged blackbirds, song sparrows, mergansers, white-fronted geese, and even a turkey vulture.

Spring can’t be TOO far away . . .

Yet the TV weather forecaster has another idea.

“Winter storm warning . . . 4 to 8 inches . . . Travel hazards expected . . . Blowing and drifting . . .”

OK . . . but at least it’s a PRETTY storm . . .

As the flakes fall faster in the fading daylight, three yearling whitetails prance and jump and race in and out of the trees in the sheltered valley, like playful children burning off energy after a day at school. Is this their prelude to “spring break?”

The world turns white, gray, and then black, as dusk yields to night. In the light from the window, the huge, wet flakes drift down like cottonballs suspended in the darkness. The sticky snow-globs – they’re much more than flakes – flock the branches of a leafless hackberry, creating an improbable Christmas-card scene.

When you step out on the deck to watch the storm, you hear the coyotes yipping and yowling in the distance. Are they, too, celebrating the delights of winter?

Delights?

Schools delay morning classes.

Snowplow drivers rack up more overtime.

The Decorah eagle cam shows the world-famous birds hunkered down in their nest to protect newly-lain eggs from the storm.

A northern harrier – forced by the snow cover to abandon his grassland hunting fields – swoops instead over the bird feeder, hoping in vain for an unwary junco.

Temperatures dip into the teens, icy roads, snow still clinging to the trees: winter won’t quite let go.

Yet a male goldfinch sports a bright-yellow patch on his shoulder, dawn comes early, and the twilight lingers past suppertime. Then, abruptly, winds shift to the south, temperatures rebound into the 40s, and the snow turns to mud and slush.

And now we celebrate the delights of spring – which really IS on its way . . .