Monday, January 2, 2017

Where Winter's grip is loose #phenology?

Several times in the past few weeks we've driven Highway 95 between North Branch and Cambridge. Each time we've noticed open water in some of the low, swampy areas along the highway. Several ponds and one lake along the same stretch of road are entirely frozen over. It's possible that there's just enough current flowing through the swampy spots to keep the water open, but from the quick view we get driving past, there's no current visible. We know there's a current where the Sunrise River flows through the pools in Carlos Avery WMA, but there's no open water visible in those pools. The explanation of the flowages along Highway 95 remains a mystery, which is probably good for us.

Winter's icy grip at Carlos Avery
Winter's icy grip at Carlos Avery
Photo by J. Harrington

Although we're entering the nadir of Winter, part of my New Year's inventory was a recognition that this year I know of several places where trillium bloom in the Spring, places I didn't know of five or ten years ago. Just last Spring, the Better Half and I stumbled into several fields full of ephemerals located a short drive north of home that we hadn't know of before. As the snow piles up, we can look at Spring's photos and anticipate warmer days and flower-filled fileds. Well, I can. The Better Half claims to really enjoy Winter. It's one of her few character flaws.


Trout lilies in Spring
Trout lilies in Spring
Photo by J. Harrington

I've been enjoying the slower pace of this brief time between the holidays being over and life's regular speed returning. Much of nature is frozen and moving a a slowed, Winter speed. Even the local flocks haven't been as frantic at the feeder the past few days. I imagine that will change as the really cold spell forecast for later this week arrives. For now, I hope you can gently ease into 2017 and have a year in which we all thrive.

Lines for Winter


By Dave Lucas


Poor muse, north wind, or any god   
who blusters bleak across the lake   
and sows the earth earth-deep with ice.   
A hoar of fur stung across the vines:   
here the leaves in full flush, here   
abandoned to four and farther winds.   
Bless us, any god who crabs the apples   
and seeds the leaf and needle evergreen.   
What whispered catastrophe, winter.   
What a long night, beyond the lamplight,   
the windows and the frost-ferned glass.   
Bless the traveler and the hearth he travels to.   
Bless our rough hands, wind-scabbed lips,   
bless this our miscreant psalm.

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