Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Winter phenology

I think I'll find a warm corner of the house and a blanket to curl up under this weekend through next week. Winter looks like it will finally arrive. My encouraging thought, borrowed from Shelley's Ode to the West Wind: "If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?"

Chickadee perched amidst snow and oak buds
Chickadee perched amidst snow and oak buds
Photo by J. Harrington

For many trees, next Spring's green leaves are already patiently waiting under bud scales? I find that very encouraging. If you look carefully at the twigs surrounding the chickadee, you can see some oak leaf buds under scales. (At least that's what I think they are.)

Have you noticed that the days are just a tiny bit longer than they were at Solstice? Soon they'll be increasing at an increasing rate, or something like that. Today's day length is 8 hours 55 minutes. Tomorrow's is a minute longer, whereas on the first of the year it was 8 hours 51 minutes. With luck, longer days create more time for

The Children's Hour

By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 
Between the dark and the daylight,
      When the night is beginning to lower,
Comes a pause in the day's occupations,
      That is known as the Children's Hour.

I hear in the chamber above me
      The patter of little feet,
The sound of a door that is opened,
      And voices soft and sweet.

From my study I see in the lamplight,
      Descending the broad hall stair,
Grave Alice, and laughing Allegra,
      And Edith with golden hair.

A whisper, and then a silence:
      Yet I know by their merry eyes
They are plotting and planning together
      To take me by surprise.

A sudden rush from the stairway,
      A sudden raid from the hall!
By three doors left unguarded
      They enter my castle wall!

They climb up into my turret
      O'er the arms and back of my chair;
If I try to escape, they surround me;
      They seem to be everywhere.

They almost devour me with kisses,
      Their arms about me entwine,
Till I think of the Bishop of Bingen
      In his Mouse-Tower on the Rhine!

Do you think, O blue-eyed banditti,
      Because you have scaled the wall,
Such an old mustache as I am
      Is not a match for you all!

I have you fast in my fortress,
      And will not let you depart,
But put you down into the dungeon
      In the round-tower of my heart.

And there will I keep you forever,
      Yes, forever and a day,
Till the walls shall crumble to ruin,
      And moulder in dust away! 

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Please be kind to each other while you can.