Sunday, April 21, 2013

an endless winter (interrupted by chickadee tv) takes a walk

Friday’s blizzard started with rain Thursday evening. Thursday was a day that started with snow, preceded by rain, maybe a wintry mix, I don’t know, but before that, rain, and snow. There was a day this week, I’m sure, when it didn’t rain or snow, when nothing happened except predictions of snow, and rain, and wintry mixes, and that was the day I noticed the crocus, once again, shooting up from the ground near the cabin’s front porch where the deep snow had pulled away briefly, like the tide going out. But that evening, before the blizzard—rain. A dark and mean and nasty rain, whipped into a frenzy by a stiff northeast wind. The sound of rain on snow is a sizzling one, like cool water on a hot griddle.

The blizzard came on a northwest wind in the middle of the night like a rollicking pirate. It beat back the rain; it buried the crocus. It snowed. And it snowed. And it snowed.

April 20, 2013. The day after the blizzard.
But now, the day after the blizzard, the dawn is calm and clear with a pale blue sky edged in yellow with one pinkish cloud. I shovel a path to the garage, and the sun gets a bit too warm on my back. It feels like the first day of spring, all over again. Snow melt trickles down the east side of the roof and soon chunks of snow break free from the roof’s nearly flat top, making the long slide down to the snowbank below. The snowbank, less than two feet from the cabin, grows and shrinks, peaking today at about four or five feet. After all the dripping and sliding, I will shovel out the snow and slush that gets caught between the snowbank and the cabin because if I don’t, when it melts, it might seep inside, dampening the floorboards, like it did a few weeks ago, in that one spot, now dry.

But that’s later. First, I must take a walk. It’s about 25 degrees. There is a brisk north wind.

With each step, the snow caves a bit.

:::::: We interrupt this post for a report on Chickadee TV. ::::::

Lately, Elliott has been amusing himself with Chickadee TV. He lurks at windows, dashing from one to another chasing black-capped chickadees and yellow-rumped warblers. The little birds are chasing the #*$#!! cluster flies that emerge from somewhere every day, thinking, I suppose, that it’s a fine spring day whether snow, rain, or all mixed up. With a dash of sunshine, the flies really go wild, dropping on their backs, spinning like break-dance boys, waggling their legs in the air. The flies hover around the house, inside and out, and the chickadees and warblers swoop close, picking them off, chowing them down. The cabin has large windows all around; Elliott watches them all.

Chickadee TV South.

Chickadee TV West.

Chickadee TV Lower West.

Chickadee TV East.

 :::::: Now back to our post. ::::::

The snow is free of animal tracks, an unbroken white except for the scrubby brown tops of bushes that poke through making scrubby grey shadows. As I approach Lookout Point, I flush only two deer from the opposite bank of the river. Both hesitate before loping eastward, following the river’s flow. I am sorry to have startled them as the snow cover in the woods surely is making it harder for them to eat, and the south-facing bank of the river looks like a good place to browse. But nonetheless. I drop my blanket in a sunny spot and plop down, sinking into the slightly crusty, slightly soft snow that gives way, like a bean bag chair. This proves mighty comfortable. I settle in.

Lounging at Lookout Point.
The high, brown water of the Otter River moves swiftly, swallowing islands and fallen trees; Fisherman’s Island has disappeared. Overhead, blue sky, a few puffed up clouds. Snow free-falls from the trees, pushed by the breeze, loosened by the sun. Small bits float in the air, swirling around like downy feathers. Larger blobs fall straight down, like bombs, like snowballs, making pockmarks. Off to the east a bald eagle soars in slow, broad circles over the river, over the woods. He disappears. Three ducks pass by, drifting down river, and a bit later they return, flying silently overhead. Their bills are red, their markings black and white. Maybe they are mergansers. Except for the rippling of the water, it is quiet. The sun is warm. The air is cool and fresh. The absence of scent is so acute it can only be described as the scent of snow, the scent of fresh snow on a cold, sun-warmed, April day.

It is easy to stay put, with nothing happening, and waiting on nothing.

Back home, the icicles on the west side of the cabin are three-feet long, dripping like crazy. Soon they will break off, begin anew.


Here are the answers to last week’s quiz: 1-G; 2-I, 3-B; 4-C; 5-K; 6-A; 7-F; 8-H; 9-L; 10-E; 11-D; 12-J.

Thanks to Big Sis for “chickadee TV.”