The lack of moisture this winter has caused the word "drought" to pop up in conversations. There is still no snow on the ground, and the frost from recent low temperatures has been driven deep into the ground. After having long warm spells through the months of September, October, November, and December, January has been just the opposite. The past ten nights have seen the thermometer dip below zero.
When it's below zero, the birds at the birdfeeders are all squatting over their feet to keep warm. It amazes me how small birds like the chickadee can generate enough heat to keep from freezing when it's 20 below zero or colder. How much warm blood could there be in the entire body of this little bird, much less her legs, feet, and tiny toes? The warmth she receives must give new meaning to the word "fat"! The small bird's body temperature of over 100 degrees helps her survive under such harsh conditions.
It's been cold indeed, and I feel the pressure, but it feels good in a way. The cold demands that I pay closer attention to the world I live in, and this will bring me closer to the earth with a more clear understanding.
Even on a frosty sub-zero morning, there can be exciting things to see and hear. When I stepped onto the porch to check the old thermometer, the cold air made me cough, being a shock to my lungs. 14 below zero, but the sun was warming the top half of the east-facing valley. The juncos were chattering and buzzing around the bird feeders and a couple of the jays were also talkative. From a clump of large cedar trees came the single note chirp of a robin - more than one robin, in fact. I reached into the house and grabbed the binoculars for a closer look. I could see several bright orange breasts in the sunlit branches, but they kept moving around. They were eating a nice, nutritious breakfast of blue cedar berries.
About the time I was getting frustrated trying to count them, they obligingly began to fly from one tree to another in small groups, to ease my work. That's right, small groups-there were that many. I counted 38 and probably missed a few. I'm still surprised when I see robins here in the winter. Nevertheless, they were a beautiful sight and helped warm this old heart on such a cold morning.
While driving along a country road yesterday, I noticed a large stick nest high in the branches of a towering oak. I always try to get a good look at stick nests, so I slowed a little as I passed by. I glimpsed the top of a head and two ear-tufts sticking straight up. There she was! - Momma great horned owl is incubating her eggs. These large owls are no doubt the first birds of the year to start raising families in Wisconsin. It really made my day, being a sure and early sign of spring.
So do yourself a favor and take a walk down nature's trail, to feel the promise of spring.
All art ©2013 Organic Valley