The week started with rain on MondayŚnot just a light shower, either. There was thunder and lightning, and a heavy downpour to go with all the fireworks. It was too warm to snow on the 7th day of January, with a high around 50 degrees. A week earlier we had 20 inches of snow on the ground, but now over half of it has melted in the rain. If that 2 to 3 inches of rain had come as snow, it would have made for a LOT of extra shoveling.
The rain has made life a little easier for the birds and animals. The melting snow will expose some of the food they need. Finding corn in a picked cornfield is much easier now for the turkeys and deer. Now they don't have to dig through so much snow to find some corn that was missed by the picker.
A friend told me she had seen a Snowy owl in the area last week. I could picture the large, white owl in my mind as she described the whole event. Once you've seen one of these magnificent birds from the northern Tundra, you will always remember. The Snowy owls spend most of their lives in the far North, but excessive snow and the lack of prey species will drive them south into the northern United States. For many of the owls, it's the first time they have seen civilization, and humans. They may appear to have no fear of the modern world and all of its dangers. This kind of innocence is becoming rare among the creatures on this Earth.
A neighbor expressed to me his anger after a turkey got in the way of his pickup truck. He said that he was driving along, and Bam! A big turkey flew right into him. It never takes me long to decide who's at fault when the unnatural world and the natural world collide on the highway. Truth is, it's never the fault of the wildlife who get stuck and injured or killed. An artificial road that encourages artificial speeds will always pose a major hazard for those who live in the slower rhythm of the natural world. My neighbor said he hadn't given much thought to what the turkey was thinking. I told him he could honor the turkey by giving some heartfelt thought to who was to blame, or was it really just an accident? Also, it would help to slow down.
Four straight days of murky fog, then it got cold enough to snow, and the fluffy white stuff came Thursday night. It was a good night for a walk and the snow was sticking to everything as it fell on the quiet landscape. The distant songs of a couple of coyotes finally broke the dead silence. Then came a sound that I haven't heard for a while, the high-pitched bark of a Fox. He yelped four times from the woods, 100 yards away, and I could faintly smell his scent. He had passed through the snow in front of me and his fresh tracks led up the hill to the woods. I wondered if he knew I was there. Maybe not, since I was downwind of him. I stood still and listened and strained to make out any movement in that direction, but the darkness hid him. I could hear, smell and feel his presence, but could only see him in my mind. It's mating season for the foxes, and the pair may be traveling and hunting together. In spite of the wintry weather, for the foxes, spring has arrived. I too feel just a little twinge of Spring Fever.
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