On Sunday morning, Mike and I and Jake walked across Patte Brook Marsh on more than eight inches of ice that was covered with just enough snow for tracking, and with the temperature in the 20s. After we got home, it began to snow, lightly at first, then in earnest. I knew that rain was predicted, but I shoveled the deck and walks anyway, not wanting to end up with slippery surfaces. Of course, the snow gradually turned to rain, then a heavy downpour, lasting through the night. On Monday morning, the rain gauge showed 3.3 inches.
Just about everywhere else in northern locations, and even some southern ones, there was snow. Lots of snow. Feet of snow. A glance at the Patriots-Bears game in Chicago showed blinding snow and fierce winds. Meanwhile, here in New England, where skiing is a vital part of our culture, we had only water. Goodness knows what this did to the ski slopes. Not to mention that there is absolutely nothing for us Nordic skiers. The only snow left in our yard is two teeny-weeny piles left from what I shoveled off the deck.
Getting back to the Patte Brook Marsh walk -- as I mentioned earlier, the tracking conditions were good. We saw the omnipresent coyote tracks, and also the unmistakable tracks of bobcat. Said cat had walked across the middle of the marsh, on its way to somewhere, probably in search of food.
Our old World Book encyclopedia describes the bobcat as closely related to the Canada lynx, but with a longer tail, shorter ears, and smaller feet. It has long legs and is usually about 15 inches high at its shoulders, and weighing from 15 to 25 pounds. Its favorite habitats are wooded areas and brushy ravines, and its favorite foods are rabbits, squirrels, small rodents, and some birds. Plenty of those around. We could use a bobcat to control our squirrel population.
On my Saturday morning walk in the woods, I spotted coyote, fox, and partridge tracks. I also noticed the beech leaves still clinging to the trees’ branches. They’ll probably be there until spring growth of new leaves pushes them off. It was gratifying to see a plethora of baby trees along the woods path -- white pine, balsam, spruce, hemlock, and cedar -- with the parent trees looming tall and stately overhead.
We are so lucky to have a mixed forest of conifers and deciduous trees. Even in the dead of winter, there is plenty of color, albeit mostly green, to be seen. Where I grew up in northeastern Ohio, the only conifers were ones that had been deliberately planted, and winter for the most part was uniformly gray and dismal.
Last week the Pleasant Valley Grange had an early meeting, its annual Christmas party, where a meal was shared and gifts were exchanged. John Applin said it was short and sweet, with folks departing early because it was too doggone cold in the Grange Hall. In January and February the meetings will be held at Ina Grover’s home, on the usual fourth Thursday of the month. Mark your calendars now.
Christmas cards, gifts, wrapping, baking, all await me. Better get going. Talk to you next week. You can reach me at email@example.com or 824-2917.