Spring Getting the Shove

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Earlier this week the temperature was close to 80 degrees. Yesterday morning we had a couple inches of snow on the ground. It had been warm enough that things started to flood. Then the floodwater started to freeze over. Early in the day yesterday we had a chilled lake across the road, popping and cracking as the water settled in the cold.

By the afternoon some of the snow had melted. The high temperature was 33 degrees, briefly, so the sun did all the work on that project. The water rose, enough that it flowed over the road by the bridge. The town road crew did a lot of work last summer to keep that in check but it still gets high enough at times to cause some serious erosion.

Wading to check out the water under the bridge

Wading to check out the water under the bridge

This morning it was 18 degree, what the meteorologists would call “unseasonable.” I have been wanting to get started on our garden but it still looks like this:

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Not exactly workable soil

Last year I had started planting in March. So it goes in this hardiness zone. Lots of folks complain about the snow and cold. I get it. But it was stunningly beautiful the past couple of mornings. I find it hard to complain about that. Spring is underway. Winter just wants some last licks. By next week the boots won’t leave the closet and we will start asking when we should remove the snow tires. And then everyone will complain about the mud.

Frost after tax day

Frost after tax day

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Raw Weather

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My daughter was sick this morning so I ended up spending the day at home with her. The day started cloudy and the rain started slowly, but it kept falling all day. It was some raw weather. We walked out in the afternoon to meet the school bus (at least all of us did not stay home) and to get some air; by then it was really coming down. I noted several times today how wet it was outside. It was some serious rain.

After dinner we took a walk to see the river. Sometimes the road floods when the river gets high enough. That was not the case today but I will not be surprised if water flows over the road tomorrow. It was flowing high and fast.

IMG_3333There were a couple of mallards swimming around the bend. I guess they don’t mind the wet. A neighbor stopped and we chatted about the flooding. Sounds like some places are really underwater. He mentioned a police scanner report of a truck up to its mirrors getting pulled out by a tractor. Ouch. The rain is washing against the house right now as the light fades. It is chilly and soggy and windy. Not a good night to be sleeping out. Like I said–raw weather.

I Like Living in Vermont

Sunrise in Bridgeport, Connecticut

Sunrise in Bridgeport, Connecticut

I watched the sun rise over the ocean a couple of days this week. I was at a conference in Bridgeport, Connecticut and rose early to walk along the shore. The sunrise was beautiful both days. The sunrise is always beautiful in my book. If I want to start my day with peace, watching the sunrise does it for me every time. I walked the sand and the walkway along the water. It was cool. A breeze blew over the water. It was pretty nice.

I looked for birds and saw lots of them. I saw Brant, a type of goose, by the hundreds. I saw sea ducks and loons. I was hoping to see shore birds but saw none. I did see a mockingbird, however, and an unusual gull, plus parakeets.

Brant

Brant

The first morning I was in my car, driving back to the conference, when a bird landed on the grass next to me. I did a double take. There was a Monk Parakeet, green and blue and gray, and then another, and then seven total. I have heard of feral populations of parakeets and parrots, but I had never seen one. And there it was. It seemed a little nutty, but I saw what I saw.

The best photo of the Monk Parakeets I could get by the time I pulled out the camera

The best photo of the Monk Parakeets I could get by the time I pulled out the camera

It was great to be in a new place and to see new birds, but the thing is, it helped me get perspective on why living here in Vermont is so great. Here is a short list of a few reasons why:

  1. Traffic. There is some traffic in Vermont but seriously, it hardly compares. Stopped on the interstate in Hartford? That is a regular occurrence. Maybe traffic might be slow sometimes in Burlington. I’ll take that.
  2. Crime. Bridgeport has a reputation, some of it perhaps deserved and some of it exaggerated for sure, but still, I wouldn’t leave my car unlocked there. Is there crime in Vermont? Sure, but again, no comparison.
  3. There is beauty on the coast. That park was pretty nice; but open space is just a lot harder to come by. Even in the most populated county in Vermont I can find plenty of room to hike or walk or run without plodding through neighborhoods or looking out on some kind of development.
  4. Politics–former governor of Connecticut John Rowland was just indicted for conspiracy. He has already served some time in prison. Crazy state politics I tell you. We had a governor run out in his birthday suit to protect his bird feeder from a bear last year. That is about as crazy as it gets around here.
  5. It is just plain old slower and quieter and easier. Driving north on the Wilbur Cross Parkway I was, admittedly, speeding a little. At 60 miles per hour I was traveling at five miles per hour over the limit, but I was the slowest car out there. The pace is just a bit fast and impatient down near the coast. Not for me.

So I am glad to be home. After several days away from my family, I am happy to be with them again. My daughter, in the school play, got sick, so I did not see her performance (missed the first one last night). I did a bunch of errands when I got home, but it was easy and slow and needed to get done. I didn’t mind diving right into our to-do list. I was home.

 

Winter Getting the Shove

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I got up early again this morning. This time of year, especially, I like to get out as the sun rises. I walked slowly and quietly to the river. Robins were singing like crazy. Song sparrows were starting up. A few red winged blackbirds were rattling out to the dim light. Venus pierced the morning glow.

It was cold, about 25 degrees. I knew the day would warm up, but it was winter weather to start things off. The river, which had been frozen over, flooded over the last week. We got rain and warm weather and all that ice melted or flowed downstream. The river spilled out over the fields. Water everywhere. But last night ice started to form again. Sheets built up and then got pushed around. They cracked and smacked and popped into the morning as the river pushed them as it flowed.

Close to the river I cold hear mallards quacking their typical duck quacks. I heard other ducks as well. Wood ducks whistled, and something else made a noise halfway between a quack and a whistle. As I snuck closer I could see waterfowl of some kind swimming close to the bridge. I watched through binoculars and got as close as I dared. Ducks are skittish critters. Turns out the closest birds were hooded mergansers. Here is a pic, poorly taken from too far away in low light with my small camera, but it will give you an image of these amazing diving ducks:

IMG_3134There were seven of them. As I watched them something else made some waves. I watched a beaver part the surface as it swam with a branch in its mouth. A cardinal sang out. The ice snapped. And all through it the sky grew lighter.

I kept trying to get closer to the water and eventually all the ducks flew away. I could see them far off on the bend in the river, and I could identify some of them, but there were definitely some in there I just couldn’t ID from the distance. I listened to the water curl under the bridge. I walked a ways further up the road, listening to the dawn chorus. I heard my first phoebe of the year.

We won’t have many more days of ice, and that dawn chorus is going to get louder and louder. I will be getting out there to great the sun as many days as I can.