The snow that fell Sunday night came down in fine, wet flakes and paused briefly on the warm, unfrozen ground before melting. Everyone I talk to agrees that some snow on the landscape would be a welcome sight. Sunday's snow was only a fleeting glimpse of the Winter Wonderland we all had hoped for, but still, it lifted my attitude just to see the snow coming down, and to feel the snowflakes hitting my face.
The past few years, the sight of snow is becoming more and more of a rarity here in southwest Wisconsin. Most of the snowstorms seem to skip over us to the south, though we may get precipitation in the form of rain.
It's kind of got me bothered, the fact that there's no snow at a time when there ought to be. I've always enjoyed just taking a nice walk in the snow. The "white stuff" has always been a part of my winter. Those happy memories of all the fun we had in the snow when we were children seem to be on my mind lately.
The absence of snow and ice is taking its toll on those who make their living in the winter weather. Most of the normal winter activities just aren't happening—skiing, sledding, snowboarding, snowmobiling, ice skating and ice fishing, among others.
The people who make their living plowing snow are finding less to do this winter. The road crews aren't getting much overtime from plowing, and there's sure a savings on road salt and sand.
On the other hand, some businesses are doing better. If you play golf, there's an outside chance that you could play every month of the year in southern Wisconsin. Just as strange, a reliable source told me he saw a farmer plowing corn stalks yesterday. The farmers too are noticing the changes, good and bad. Their alfalfa likes to be covered with some snow, which protects it from freezing and thawing ice. But at least the farmers can get some things done!
All in all, there are trade-offs for everyone facing these strange weather changes, and they'll no doubt become more and more challenging as we head into the future.
The wild birds don't put any energy into worrying about global warming. They take life as it comes, with the pure assumption that mother nature will provide. I've been enjoying watching wild birds at the feeders this winter, even without any snow, there's nothing like Blue jays, cardinals, and goldfinches gathering together on bright new snow, or against the winter grays and browns.
There was a group of the birds at the feeder chowing and mingling when I heard the Blue jays' alarm call go out. I looked out the window in time to see the birds all dash for cover. The small, brown, Sharp-shinned hawk streaked across the backyard and into the thick brush. He was clutching a small bird in his talons, but I couldn't tell what kind of bird it was. I walked outside and looked around on the ground for feathers that would give me a clue to the caught birds' identity. I picked up three small, gray feathers that looked like they might be from the back of a Slate-colored junco, or maybe a Tufted titmouse. Whichever one it was, the little bird now contributes to the living of the Sharp-shinned hawk. Mother nature provides indeed, but for some it's a wild ride!
Editor's Note: We've finally got our snow!
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