Well, everything is back to normal, weather-wise, here in the Kickapoo Valley. February's weather has been more winter-like than the three previous months together. You never know what to expect from February, but whatever comes will have a winter flavor. Adding to this month's colder temperatures was the snow—6 to 8 inches. Friday morning, there was a new fluffy white landscape. At last, a winter wonderland! Going from a mostly snowless winter, to a white-out overnight, is really kind of a shock, though a welcome sight.
I have to admit that I've kind of missed the normal winter weather. The fresh snow covering everything from the ground up stirred my long lost winter spirit, and rekindled the kid in me. When I was a kid, winter was all about snow.
Although it's been 50 years since I flew down a steep hill on a toboggan with 4 or 5 of my friends, I remember it like it was yesterday. I can still feel the powdery snow flying across my face as we zoomed along. I remember how we played outside after dark. We made a large circle in the snow and cut it into a pie, then we'd play fox and goose for hours in the moonlight. Before going in I'd make one last snow angel under my bedroom window, so I could see her when I woke in the morning.
Shoveling snow was also a big part of my winter life back in the 1950s. I could make some extra money if there were some sidewalks that needed to be cleaned off—25 cents for a corner lot and driveway. If my friends and I wanted to do some ice-skating on the lake, we'd all show up with shovels, and in no time we'd have cleared a nice, big, open place to skate. It was important to get new snow off the ice as soon as it stopped falling. If left to melt, the snow would freeze to the ice, making our rink very rough to skate on for the rest of the winter.
These days, I don't do nearly as much shoveling, and I can't remember the last time I had on a pair of ice skates. I don't get much chance to do any sledding either, but I still enjoy making a snowman or two every year in the yard—and I still like to find a special place for a snow angel.
It's been two months since I've seen the little red Screech owl that was using the owl box in the locust tree in my hard. I was wondering about him, when I found a road-killed red phased Screech owl half a mile from the house. There was no way to tell whether this is the same one that lived near my house, and I was pleasantly surprised when I heard one singing his low, whistling trill just after dark, only 50 yards from the house.
Whenever I see any bird or animal that's been killed along a road, I secretly curse the day that automobiles were invented. I think most people give little thought to the dead wildlife they see along the roads, but millions of innocent animals are lost to motor vehicles across our country each year. It's just one of the many ways that our current human lifestyles are in conflict with the natural world around us. It's something we can change, gradually, by educating our children about the natural world that sustains us, and by fostering compassion in regards to life other than our own. With fresh awareness, we can create ways of living that are respectful of nature's creatures.
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