It's been many years since we've had this much snow on the ground in Southwest Wisconsin. It's payback time for all those snow storms that went around us over the past few years. One of our farmers from Iowa said that they didn't have any snow on the ground there and the wind has been blowing their topsoil around. There were some long, tired faces in the checkout line at the grocery store this morning. Then, someone mentioned that they had just seen eight Robins in a snow covered apple tree, eating the dried apples. Just like that, everyone had a smile on their face. Everyone's spirits were lifted at the thought of seeing a Spring Robin, and they were still talking about it as I walked out the door.
It's interesting to watch how the birds are adjusting to the deep snow. I haven't seen a turkey at the bird feeders for nearly a week. With the snow getting hard for them to walk through, they may be spending a lot of their time up in the trees. They are happy to pluck the new leaf buds for a meal. The squirrels also eat the tender buds when it becomes hard to dig through the deep snow for buried nuts. I surprised a fat Fox squirrel this morning who was sitting on the porch rail when I opened the back door. I saw him leap through the air and dive head first into the deep snow. He disappeared completely, leaving a hole in the snow the size of a softball. With a spray of powdery snow, he burst out eight feet from where he went in, having run under the snow all that way. Up a tree he went, no worse for wear, and he went about his regular squirrel business.
The new tracks in the snow each morning are fun to examine. There are many places where a bird leapt into the air and left behind a pair of wing prints in the snow. Of course there are the tiny four-toed tracks of the smaller birds everywhere on the snow. The tracks of a rabbit that lead to the brush pile are easy to follow, and so are those left behind by a single Deer. All that happens in the night is revealed by the fresh tracks in the snow at sunrise. Follow the little tracks of a Deer mouse, and they may lead you to the spot where he is getting into your basement. Then again, the tracks may end under a pair of wing prints in the snow, left by a Screech owl who was waiting for the mouse to come along. I've seen both.
Around here, the question of an early Spring has some folks wondering how fast the snow will melt, or would a slower change to Spring be better. One thing's for sure: If there's a rapid thaw, the melting snow will cause problems. Spring flooding can be nasty, so I'm hoping that the thaw is more gradual.
The Lunar eclipse last Wednesday night was beautifully calming, as the Earth's shadow almost completely blocked out the full moon, It felt kind of strange knowing that there was a bright, white full moon, yet everything on the ground was dark. The stars twinkled brightly, like they would on a moonless night.
Before the eclipse started, a single coyote's gave one long howl that carried from all the way up the valley. I've been waiting to hear the howls of a wolf in the Kickapoo Valley, but I've haven't heard one yet. I have heard and seen wolves before, but never this far south in Wisconsin. Several people in the area have told me that they either saw or heard a wolf in the past few years. So, they are here, I just haven't had the pleasure of meeting them yet.
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