Last Sunday morning I woke up to about 8 inches of fresh, powdery snow. It was so light and dry that it was easy to walk through but if we get much more I’m going to have to start wearing snowshoes. I’m hoping that some of the trails I want to visit today have already been packed down by previous hikers.
Despite how dry the snow was it covered everything as if it were the heavy, wet variety. The local newspaper said that this year and 2003 rank as the top years for earliest snowfall since 1960. Historically, early snowfalls mean snowier winters in this part of the country.
The local stream was starting to freeze over. Since this photo was taken we’ve seen 10 degree below zero temperatures, so it has probably frozen over completely now.
This great blue heron seemed to want very badly for me to believe he was just another clump of grass, but the wind blew away his cover and revealed his hiding place. As is often the case when I see birds here, I didn’t have my tripod.
As I watched he kind of lurched across the ice toward what little open water is left.
And after slowly folding one leg up into his feathers there he stood, as if contemplating his upcoming dip into the icy water to look for breakfast. You can learn a lot about patience by watching herons. I think this one might be a juvenile because of the black and white feathers on the top and the leading edge of his wing.
I noticed by the big footprints that he had also walked from the frozen pond up onto the road before I got there. He was probably hoping to warm his toes. I didn’t know until last week that herons would put up with snow, but since then I’ve heard that they will hunt the fields for mice and voles in the winter and jerry from the Quiet Solo Pursuits blog says he sees them in Michigan year round. I guess if they can stand a Michigan winter they can stand just about anything! I’ve even seen photos of them with ice on their feathers. It’s amazing what nature will teach us if we just take the time to pay attention.
It’s always hard to tell if the Ashuelot River will freeze over in this spot in Swanzey. It hasn’t for at least four years now, but even though it stays open I think it might be too deep here for herons to fish in.
Except for a couple of sentries keeping watch over both land and water, all the Canada geese on the river were sleeping.
This ear of corn was low enough on the stalk so geese could have reached it, and I wondered if they had. I can’t think of another bird except a turkey that would have enough strength to open an ear of corn. It might have been a hungry squirrel too.
By 3:30 in the afternoon the sun was low in the sky and trying to break through the clouds, but it never really made it. It is the time of long nights and I think this snow is here to stay for a while.
Before I left the wetland the sun finally broke through just enough to turn this small stream to gold. This happens frequently enough but I usually see it out of the corner of my eye as I’m driving by. Seeing it up close is one of life’s simple pleasures because for some unknown reason, it always makes me happy.
Snowflakes are one of nature’s most fragile things, but just look what they can do when they stick together. ~Vista M. Kelly
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