Friday, January 27, 2017

Does sunshine cloud #phenology?

Earlier this week, a dusting of snow became a white board on which red squirrels and (I think) downy woodpeckers left messages. Today the board and its messages have been erased by some rare sunlight. Another sign that we're closing in on the Vernal Equinox is that the sun is now warm enough to melt some of the snow and ice on the brown gravel road, even though the temperature is well below freezing. I know it's still some way off, but I'm looking forward to Spring this year more than usual, I think, despite the fact that our Winter has been less painful than typical. Actually, more than anticipating Spring, I'm just sick of cloudy, cold, contrary weather. You know, the feeling of "Sunshine on My Shoulders makes me happy." (Check out the Minnesota connection to Denver's song.) I'd rather see tracks on muddy road shoulders or soft stream banks than on snowflake-covered decks.

tracks in snow dust: red squirrel, downy woodpecker, and ???
tracks in snow dust: red squirrel, downy woodpecker, and ???
Photo by J. Harrington

The sun's movement toward northern skies is inexorable. There may be occasional spells of cold or snow or both, but each day for the next several months, sunrise and sunset grow a little farther apart. If there's no cloud cover, we get more daylight sunshine. If there are clouds, we get more daylight. One of the recently reported downsides of climate change is a forecast decline, somewhere around 10%, in the number of "nice" days we get each year. Since trout (and walleye) don't particularly care for bright sunshine, that may not be all bad if trout (and walleye) anglers can adjust. I wonder if this kind of change will affect aquatic macroinvertebrates at all. Warmer climate will mean warmer waters but fishing a hatch is often better on overcast days.

As I try to convince myself that something approaching a "normal" life will be possible in the future, I notice that other folks are going through similar adjustments. I hope you enjoy the upcoming equinox as much as ever you have.

The Sun

Have you ever seen
in your life
more wonderful

than the way the sun,
every evening,
relaxed and easy,
floats toward the horizon

and into the clouds or the hills,
or the rumpled sea,
and is gone–
and how it slides again

out of the blackness,
every morning,
on the other side of the world,
like a red flower

streaming upward on its heavenly oils,
say, on a morning in early summer,
at its perfect imperial distance–
and have you ever felt for anything
such wild love–
do you think there is anywhere, in any language,
a word billowing enough
for the pleasure

that fills you,
as the sun
reaches out,
as it warms you

as you stand there,
or have you too
turned from this world–

or have you too
gone crazy
for power,
for things?

- Mary Oliver

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Please be kind to each other while you can.