Feb 17, 2011

False Spring

Today was the kind of day that made me want to come back to Virginia after years in on the Northern Plains, where winters were so brutally cold that the brief Chinook in January was not enough to dissuade me of the thought that the winter would never end. When the Chinook came, there usually was so much snow on the ground that it hardly brought thoughts of spring.

In Virginia, on the other hand, we're usually treated in February to springlike weather that can actually bring out the Wood Frogs, if an even earlier brief stretch in January hasn't already done the trick, and give more than a hint of the spring to come. Sure, we can still get pounded by three feet of snow in March,but by then we know we're over the hump, that spring will surely follow.

Today was the second day into this year's false spring. Temps in the 70s, and bugs flying through the air. In walking through a stretch of forest that is normally filled with vernal pools, which in turn should have been full of Wood Frogs making their frenzied attempts to breed in the brief warm stretches that pop up this time of year. But it's just too dry - no vernal pools. The last snow, less than six inches, has quickly disappeared into the parched winter ground or run off to join the Rappahannock River somewhere downhill.

Barred Owl (Strix Varia)
Photo by Sterren
That doesn't mean the woods was without life. A Barred Owl flew past me, and settled high in a tree down the trail aways. I got out my binoculars to make sure of the ID, and we stared at each other for quite a while until it decided it was better to find another stretch of that forest to rest in before going on its nightly hunt. It's passage stirred up a variety of woodpeckers, who sounded the alarm throughout the forest.

A few wasps were also out enjoying the weather and a pile of feathers that used to be a Titmouse, but that was about all.

The day was so warm that I'd left my windows open at home to air out the house and ended up keeping them open until well into the evening. As the full moon came up, it drew me to the deck to a perfect night—a few clouds slowly drifting by the moon, a gentle breeze, and temps still hanging in the sixties. If I hadn't had a deadline, I might still be out there.

No comments:

Post a Comment