Driving over the reservoir this morning was exciting because there were bufflehead ducks in the water! Yes! Spring is coming! Even if it’s still cold and snowing, spring is near! Buffleheads are wild to see with their prominent black and white head dress. They are another sweet harbinger of spring. Nature’s cycles coming round again. The buffleheads have returned!
They must be migrating or something because there were Red Tailed Hawks everywhere today. The whole drive up and back from Albany, I must have seen multiple hawks every few minutes. I spotted them sitting in trees, hopping along the side of the road, perched on fence posts, wheeling and darting through the air, soaring on wind currents. I found them in back yards, in fields, in forests, on small towns, in a school parking lot, and in Albany. They were flying singly, in pairs, and multiples. I don’t think I have ever seen that many hawks in one day before. I guess they are ready for spring too! They are on the move looking for the greener grass on the other side.
This morning, the light coming through the bedroom window seemed somewhat muted, even for an overcast day. Pulling up the blind, we saw that the snow on the roof had shifted downward so that the edge was a solid ledge of ice hanging off the roof line. What was really blocking the daylight was actually the massive icicles hanging off the ice. As the days warm up in the afternoon, the roof ice shifts, the icicles curve inward toward the house, then drip down from there. After several days of the freeze thaw cycle. The is a rippling wall of ice hanging off the roof and blocking most of the morning sunshine from coming through the window. This ice formation is dangerously fascinating and impressively beautiful. Once and while during the day a chunk will break off with a thunderous thump that shakes the whole house as it hits the foundation. We will have to break some of the icicles off so they don’t break the windows when they fall, but for now I can immerse myself in the exotic elegance of the delicate frozen beauty from behind the translucent blue curling icicle curtain.
After I got home this morning from my daily trip to Albany, I decided to go snowshoeing. I wore the wrist brace, bundled up warmly, strapped on the snowshoes, grabbed my poles, and took off across the neighboring field. I was completely exhilarated to be back out on the snow by myself. Although I do like hiking with my husband and other people, however, going solo has its own appeal. There is nothing else like an intimate personal experience in the natural environment, relying completely on yourself. I didn’t go very far as I got tired rather quickly, but just being active outside was what I really needed. The crisp air felt invigorating on my face and in my lungs, the sound of the snow crunching underfoot was a balm to my aching soul. I feel alive and free.
So, we woke up this morning to more snow! It had just started falling and was slowly and silently covering the landscape in another frosty white blanket. I lay in bed and watched it snowing for a long time, feeling warm and drowsy, curled up with feline friends, snuggled deep beneath the down quilt. I watched the ground turn sparkling white as the snow softly collected. I watched the flakes fall gently through the still air coating bare branches. Although I am ready for spring and the idea of more snow seems dreary, I let myself melt into the grey and white snowy spectacle outside, let the calm peacefulness seep into my body as the frozen world gradually turned back into a winter wonderland.
I contacted a rafting friend who lives in Albany, and went over to see him today after my radiation appointment. It was a pleasant day, mostly sunny and warmer than it has been. He took me to his favorite tea and sandwich shop in downtown Albany where we met another friend and had tea and sandwiches. There is a small park across the street from the cafe where most of the snow has melted so we sat at a picnic table in the sun to eat watching all the people walk by in their business suites and professional clothes. It was blissful to sit in the warm sun (although the breeze off the river was a little chilly) and talk and eat and sip warm strong tea. I do like to people watch and today was a good day for it. Of course seeing old friends again after a long while makes you feel warm and cozy inside too. I didn’t want to leave, but time doesn’t stand still and they had other obligations to meet. Today was a happy day with cheerful tea and a pleasant company.
My husband was standing in the living room talking on his cell phone (the electricity did not come back on until later this evening) when suddenly he exclaimed “WOAH!” I looked up and saw fluttering light in the mirror over the mantel as all the birds at the feeder took off in a frantic panicked flight, all but one that is. A Sharp-shinned Hawk had silently swooped down from the massive hemlock tree, swiftly delivering a death blow to one unfortunate grackle. Absolutely amazing to see this kind of wild kingdom happen in your front yard. I did feel sad about the grackle, who didn’t actually die immediately, as it feebly struggled in the hawks sharp grasping talons. There were bright ruby red blood droplets spattered in the glistening white snow, glowing like fading embers as the grackle heaved it’s last labored breath. The hawk re-positioned its cumbersome catch and awkwardly took flight lumbering up to a nearby low branch in the tree it had come from. After a few moments rest it flew to a higher branch out of sight to eat it’s hard won meal. Life for the wild things is fearsome and balances on a thin thread. Everything can change in an unforeseen instant. Makes me think about how I want to live my life.