By Greg Lecker
What a difference an increase of 15 degrees makes! Today with the calm still air, my hands are not cold, even with my lightweight gloves. Freshly scattered sand gives a bit of grip to my boot soles on the roadway’s slick film of snow and ice. Atop an oak near the rose garden, the complaints of a gray squirrel call my attention to the fine number of birds singing this morning – most notably a Northern Cardinal. If one closes one’s eyes, the music of the birds makes one imagine that it is spring. Opening my eyes again though, I see that it is still late February.
The sky is a featureless white dome that exactly/precisely matches the hue and brightness of the snowy ground plane. Friday’s fresh four inches of snow have softened the landscape, blurring the tracks that Mary Beth described last week. Just a hint of a glowing org hovers still quite low in the sky.
Cross-country skiers stride and glide by the Rhododendron hollow below my favorite serpentine section of roadway. The snow frosting the bark of a Sugar Maple could be whipped cream sprayed across the ridges of a waffle drizzled with syrup from the tree.
The perfection of the hedge collection stands readily apparent against a white background. Continuing onward, I pull my hood across my head to block the rising breeze from flowing through the weave of my hat.
From within the pine collection, the strident shrieking scream of an unseen Blue Jay startles me. A fat frosting of snow, like soap foam, has been slathered on the on upright boughs.
This morning, I had reversed my walking direction. How different the world looks when viewed from a different vantage point. A curly willow twig lying on the roadway directs my attention downward. Wispy streaks of snow swirl across the asphalt bitumen, its exposed aggregate worn smooth by wheels and plow. Then, I spy interesting discs lie amidst tread tracks of an unseen machine. It’s fun to think of these as “snow seeds” or “tractor droppings”. Probably just something dropped by the machine treads.
I stop by the bird feeding station at the patio near the conservatory. The Black-capped Chickadees and Gray Squirrels remind me of own feeders that need filling.
Greg Lecker is a Minnesota Master Naturalist Volunteer.