The thaw finally came Tuesday and for the first time in a coon's age, the thermometer rose above freezing. The old woodpile took quite a hit these past six weeks and already I wonder if there will be enough to last until May. Besides, I'm getting tired of lugging in firewood at such a pace. Then I think to myself, "Don't panic yet. You're nearly half way through the winter and you have no idea what the weather will bring." So, live for today, but think about spring being on its way!
A January thaw will be nice and melt some of this snow and ice. The Kickapoo River has been frozen over for quite some time, but within a day or two her dark waters will appear again.
Last night I awoke to a rustling sound outside the bedroom window. I knew what the rustling was, and I got up to peek out the window. Directly below me was a lovely doe looking up at me. I was only three feet from her, yet she couldn't see me in the dark window. Standing in the snow she would reach out with her long neck and pull the dried Red runner beans off the side of the house. Every winter I leave some of the beans for the deer. The beans in the summer have poppy red flowers covering the tall vines, a favorite of the hummingbirds and bumblebees. I never know who might come to my bedroom window any time of the year. Other window guests include raccoons, opossums, flying squirrels, and butterflies, to name just a few.
There are a few more signs of spring to report this week. About an hour before sunup this morning, I heard the high-pitched yelps of a fox. He was probably barking to his mate. Their season has begun and their plans for spring are well underway. In about 50 days, the little kits will be born in a warm, dark nest in a burrow in the ground. The kits will be outside playing in the sun by the end of April.
All week the Red-bellied woodpeckers have been drumming out their spring songs on a hollow, dead tree limb up in the woods. The woodpeckers are feeling the first, early spring urges, and they let each other know where they are with their territorial drumming.
The male Gray squirrels are following the females up and down the tree trunks and branches. Where she goes, he follows, as the courtship begins. In about five weeks, 3 to 5 little squirrels will be born in a hole in a hollow tree limb. The mother squirrel will stay with her babies for several weeks in their nest in the tree. The little squirrels may not appear until there are green leaves to hide them.
The warm weather has already melted a little snow and ice as well as some of the shriveled crab apples in the neighbors' yard. The cedar waxwings have found them and will swallow them whole, now that they aren't frozen. There's still a lot to eat if you know where to find it. The waxwings have been eating cedar berries and Box elder seeds, so a few apples are a nice change, I suppose. There were about 25 waxwings in the flowering crab tree. They were too far away to get a decent photo, so I thought I would use my pencils and some imagination to show you what they look like.
Because of the warm temperatures and the melting snow, there has been some fog in the valley at night. This causes some heavy frost to form on everything. The thick white frost coats everything it touches with a special winter beauty that will last only a couple of hours after first daylight.
All art ©2013 Organic Valley