I've learned over the years that warm days in the winter usually mean clouds and some rain. It's been over two weeks since the warm weather started, and I've hardly seen the sun shine since. I take each day as it comes, and enjoy the mild temperatures...but I'm an old advocate of, "a little sunshine brightens each day," and there's no doubt that everyone is more chipper when there's some sun.
So the spring-like weather continues and the semi-uneasy feeling that something a little strange is going on. The December thaw has become a January thaw, and it feels like March. I've heard a few more reports of Bluebird sightings in the area, which adds to the unusual early-spring feeling.
Just after dark last night, I heard the romantic-sounding call of a Barred owl. Something warm inside him must have stirred him to sing in spite of the freezing rain.
The deer come each night to browse around in the snow-covered garden. It's usually too dark to see them, but tonight I watched them from the window, as a bright moon lit up the yard.
At daybreak, I was surprised to hear the bold gobble of a "Tom turkey." That's a sound I'd expect in March, when the turkeys are courting. I wonder if the old Tom is thinking it's already spring? A friend told me she had heard the rumbling "drumming" sound of a Ruffed grouse recently—another sound that normally starts in spring. The grouse drumming wasn't a complete surprise though, as several times in years past I have heard it in late December, on warm, rainy days like these.
My daily walk took me down the hollow and along the creek. I haven't visited this place much since the tornado came through back in August. The powerful winds took and twisted every tree along the bottomland pasture, leaving only a few broken snags standing. Today at the very top of one of these snags perched a beautiful black and white Bald eagle. How magnificent he looked, sitting there silhouetted against the cloudy gray sky. It was pretty moving.
Then from out of the west came a hard-flying Red tailed hawk. It was soon very apparent that she was heading right for the perched Eagle. The swift hawk dove and raked the eagle with a glancing blow from a talon, causing the big bird to lose his balance and sail off. The hawk escorted the Eagle away down the valley, circling high above and screaming her territorial warning. I thought the hawk was showing a lot of spirit, taking on such a powerful adversary. Perhaps the spring weather emboldened her territorial urges.
These warm days have been kind of strange, and gray, but definitely interesting. There's also been a reduction in the amount of firewood I need to toss into the stove, and that's just fine with me!
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