January 27 – Went walking on our pasture trails this week. Since it wasn’t in the twenties or lower, and most of the snow had disappeared (of course, we had only about 2 inches of snow, so we didn’t quite catch up to those who enjoyed the two feet or more back in the East), we thought we had better get out while we could. As I remember, this is the first time we have walked for close to a month! Just checked my journal and found that we had been out one day in December when it was nearly seventy! Sometimes I can’t figure out what happens to the temperature—in the low teens one day and sixty-five the next! I’m not too pleased when we are promised a nice tomorrow with plenty of sunshine and just shirt sleeve temperatures. So what often happens? Dark clouds greet us when we get up, and we soon hear via the weather report that we had better put on some shirts that need a sweater or jacket if we plan to stay warm.
Sure, I realize that a forecaster can’t be correct every day, but it would be nice if he would be right more often. I just mentioned the tons of snow that fell in several eastern states and in DC as well. One interesting result of the storm in the capital made me think back on my growing up days in Erie, PA. when we had so much snow every year that our sled became our favorite toy. Now this year, for the first time since 1876, kids and grown-up kids were given permission to go sledding on Capitol Hill! Not that there weren’t those who “broke the law,” through the years, but the police didn’t arrest them, that is, until after 9/11! But now, after 140 years have passed, it is legal to slide down the hill again.As we walked south, we enjoyed the light wind and paths without snow. On the ground around several trees, we saw the chewed-up remains of another osage orange or two, but nothing like our walk last month. I think all of the resident squirrels in the neighborhood have now changed their diet from osage orange to sunflower seeds! A number of them are at the feeder almost before Dale puts out food. We have had so many cardinals, blue jays, doves, sparrows, and juncos, along with some woodpeckers. When we look out the window, we find the yard overflowing with red, with at least twenty-five of those fancy birds at the same time.
We don’t know why, but most of the pasture trails or paths through the woods, are almost moss covered now. This growth started several years ago when I first mowed the path, but since then it has just about taken over. Strange, too. Moss all over the path, but nothing in the surrounding woods. As we walked along the creek, we noticed that the abundant rains through the year had washed out a good bit of the banks, and we could see roots that used to be covered with earth. All of the creeks were partially covered with ice.
At the pond we found something both interesting and strange. Looking out from the edge, we could see many footprints. As we examined them more closely, we decided that there were human footprints along with those that might have been made by a dog. During the really cold weeks before, that ice must have been so solid, that somebody could have walked across from one side to the other, with a few diversionary steps along the way. Two breaks in the ice with rays coming out from the center, showed that somebody or someone must have fallen in! We’ve heard no story about that, but I doubt that anyone foolish enough to be out on the pond would have told us of the accident!How sad it was to see the big bed of irises with just little plants turned mostly yellow and weeds growing among them. Even some limbs had fallen on the bed in several places. As we walked along, we could see the creek all frozen over, with big limbs and even entire trees fallen, helping to make a barrier that the creek couldn’t go over or under and had to push the water off to the other bank.
And poor goldenrod as well! In one spot there were several heads, not golden any more as they were when I took their picture last fall, but a grayish brown waving in the breeze. Last summer we had a neat little bird house on a post, just waiting for a new occupant. For several years it had survived the weather, but finally gave up. Since it wasn’t made of strong wood, it was tearing apart on the back, so Dale says he will have to get some better wood to make more in the spring. – CHRIS