Saturday, March 22, 2014

Loch Raven Winter Hike

Last day of winter, so says the calendar
We have at least one more blast of snow on the way, seems like it will never end.  But the periods inbetween the snowstorms are getting longer and warmer.  You can almost feel the souls of millions of people awaken and stretch in the Mid-Atlantic.  Tired of the coldest winter in 20 years.

I feel like things are coming alive again.  Birds are singing in the trees for the first time in almost six months.  The winter ducks haven't left, but the swans and geese have all flown north to Pennsylvania and beyond.   Spring is around the corner.

On a good snowmelt day, I decided to take Hank to our local watershed property for a hike.   I wondered if the reservoir was still was.

But the air temperature rose into the low 50s, giving Hank some spunk and giving me enough energy to keep up with him for a few hours outside...shenanigans good to be outside again.  We looked through holes in the ice for any signs of moving fish...absolutely none.  Won't be long though, and the boy begged me to bring him back to find them.

Hank's first antler shed...the squirrels had chewed it up quite a bit

Walking the plank

The boy is a fan of acorns and hickory nuts

Playing in a coldwater spring

Head in my lap, looking at the clouds 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Late Winter Ebb

The aluminum eyelets on my Danners ice up again, pulling the thick laces back and forth across them as I trudge through the half frozen floodplain. They splay, half wet half frozen.  Another day of snow followed by four days of snow melt followed by another day of snow followed by days of rain.  All this is just mighty fine if you don't work on construction projects in the water.

The snow melts, feeding the hillside springs, slipping down into our damaged springs. I chase a sediment plume in the construction zone furiously upstream, only to realize it was caused by a giant bullfrog shaking loose the silt from hibernation, arising to the surface to warm himself enough to slip back down into the silt and sleep for another month.

We try to will up the spring flowers but their rise has come too slowly, exposing fresh succulents buds to the hordes of hungry deer, rabbits, squirrels and groundhogs.  Gnarled yellow shreds in fields of daffodils, six weeks late, not yet ready to bloom. And won't be afforded the chance.

Whatever grievance I bring you is a soft one.  Life goes on and spring will come.  The soil will warm, then dry.  The winter ducks will fly north and away.  The fish will rise and I will find them.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

The Blank Space

This winter seems interminable - they say it's the coldest in 20 years.  Everyone in our family has caught the same cold twice in the last four weeks.  No perennials are peeking up through the scattered snow banks that have long overstayed their welcome.   Skunk cabbage and wild iris arose in the swamp a month ago, only to die back in the bitter cold.

I'm in need of warm, moist air and southern winds.  It seems I'm not the only one.  Friends do not speak of plants, spring wildlife, or new gardens.  Most people do not speak of much, it seems, except for comings and goings and pictures of kids playing indoor sports.  People in our relatively friendly city have become resigned to the unrelenting north wind in their face, blowing as it has been for six months. Everyone shuffles about quickly with their heads covered, faces down to the salt, ice, and grime on the sidewalks.

I want to feel the fire.  I want to move.  I want to create motion beyond myself.  That is what I am here to do.

Tonight, another snow storm comes.  I bristle and grab one more blanket, longing for the warm air so long overdue. On Monday morning, we go back to work under three layers of pants and four layers of tops.

Photo by Jennifer Carr

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