Sunday, February 25, 2018

Winter's last grasp? #phenology

February's snow-covered branches
February's snow-covered branches
Photo by J. Harrington

Last night between 6 and 10 inches of snow fell on our neighborhood. Despite today's wind, many of the woodlot branches are still snow covered. One of the prettiest aspects of fresh snowfall is the way it highlights the red of a male cardinal. Maybe now we've had our last notable snowfall until Winter next? Minnesota rarely does a great job with Spring. Could this year be an exception? Will the cold claws of a dieing season finally release their icy grasp on our hats, gloves and boots?

bright red against white
bright red against white
Photo by J. Harrington

Flocks of goldfinches are visiting the feeders and ground feeding on the seeds scattered over the snow from birds at the hanging feeders. We're looking forward to the arrival of Northward-bound migrants soon. This coming Thursday marks the beginning of meteorological Spring. The weather forecast promises high temperatures near or reaching 40℉ starting tomorrow. Warm temperatures and snow melt will quicken the hydrologic cycle, but, based on the Phenology Network's latest maps, we aren't anticipating an early arrival of Spring this year.

We're pleased to report that this year we've actually made real progress getting our fly-fishing gear ready for the upcoming season. We may have gone beyond a point where we will ever really be organized again (too many toys and interests), but we now seem to be losing ground at a decreasing rate, or something. We've even made adjustments to an old saying we used to follow. We now claim that "a bad day of fishing is still better than a good day at the computer." We're almost, but not quite, ready to add to that the belief that "a bad Spring day is better than a great Winter's day." We need a little more experience, and a lot more thought, before we confirm that comparison. We've seen plenty of bad Spring days and few great Winter ones.

accumulated growing degree days, 2/25/18
accumulated growing degree days, 2/25/18

                     February



Winter. Time to eat fat
and watch hockey. In the pewter mornings, the cat,
a black fur sausage with yellow
Houdini eyes, jumps up on the bed and tries
to get onto my head. It’s his
way of telling whether or not I’m dead.
If I’m not, he wants to be scratched; if I am
He’ll think of something. He settles
on my chest, breathing his breath
of burped-up meat and musty sofas,
purring like a washboard. Some other tomcat,
not yet a capon, has been spraying our front door,
declaring war. It’s all about sex and territory,
which are what will finish us off
in the long run. Some cat owners around here
should snip a few testicles. If we wise
hominids were sensible, we’d do that too,
or eat our young, like sharks.
But it’s love that does us in. Over and over
again, He shoots, he scores! and famine
crouches in the bedsheets, ambushing the pulsing
eiderdown, and the windchill factor hits
thirty below, and pollution pours
out of our chimneys to keep us warm.
February, month of despair,
with a skewered heart in the centre.
I think dire thoughts, and lust for French fries
with a splash of vinegar.
Cat, enough of your greedy whining
and your small pink bumhole.
Off my face! You’re the life principle,
more or less, so get going
on a little optimism around here.
Get rid of death. Celebrate increase. Make it be spring.



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