February 2nd is “Cross-Quarter Day” – half way between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. In early times, northern cultures celebrated this day with dancing and song. Here in the U.S., we call it “Groundhog Day”. There is hope for warmer days because we have almost 10 hours of sunlight; one hour and 15 minutes more sun than on the winter solstice. We are gaining one minute of sunlight each day. The sun angle is higher, and it feels warmer on our cheeks.
Spring Birds Calling – Over the past week I have heard the spring calls of the cardinal, chickadee, nuthatch, and the drumming of a downy woodpecker. These sounds are melting the dark places in my winter heart.
Black-capped Chickadee (fee bee call)
Downy Woodpecker (drumming – setting up its territory)
White Breasted Nuthatch
To listen to other sounds of spring go to:www.oldnaturalist.com/the-sounds-of-spring/
It has been a little rough up here on the “frozen tundra” this winter. Most people I know haven’t taken off their long underwear since the Winter Solstice. I have been wearing the same pair of wool coveralls for a month and have been hoping that no one has noticed. I for one, suffer through the dark months of the year and need to be outside each day.
Getting outside every day can be a challenge. Add a sub-zero temperature and a north wind in your face and you are going to feel a spike going through your head. You might start wondering why you are out there, or if it is even safe. There has been a few days when I was walking with my dog and he ran back to the house when I wasn’t looking. Some people make their choices to be outside based upon windchill. I make my choice based upon my emotional stability.
Sometimes you have to look hard to find beauty on our stark white landscape. The natural patterns created by the wind and snow can be stunning.
A “Sundog” appears in the sky when the sun is rising or setting. Its looks like sideways rainbows on either side of the sun and is caused by the refraction of the sun through cirrus cloud ice crystals.
The following note was submitted by Gretchen Alford:
I can totally relate to the part about your dog retreating to the house when you’re not looking. Bravo does it too, as his paw pads get cold quickly. We get out twice each day, NO MATTER WHAT! There’s something about the air, the sounds, the lack of other sounds, the light, the snow laden branches, the critter tracks in the snow and the beckoning woods – it makes it all worthwhile for a farm girl at heart and her frisky British Lab.