I have been up early these past couple of weeks. The sun rises later than it did at the beginning of the summer. Fog settles over the river most mornings. Sometimes a Great Blue Heron quietly flies past. Or two Great Blue Herons. Here is a sample of what it looked like when I went out.
I have to go when I can go. So I went up to the town forest a couple mornings ago, when I had some time to do it. If I had total flexibility I might have gone the day before, when the sky was clear. But I have to work, and I have a family and, you know, life stuff. So I went when I had time.
May is the month to find migrating birds. And, currently, it is May. So up I went to see what is passing through, or what has arrived for the summer. There was some fog down low, but as I drove up the hill, the fog got thicker. Up at the small parking area it was a bit socked in. I could see, mind you, just not very far. Tree tops were obscured, so I had to listen more than look.
When I go birding I usually listen more than look anyway, so it was natural. I have to remind myself sometimes to look up, in fact. There is just so much sound that birds make–songs and calls and drumming and chips and peeps. On this day I heard plenty of birds–Winter Wrens and American Redstarts and Veeries and Mourning Warblers. The bird of the day was the Bay Breasted Warbler–one that passes through–peeking out from a spruce tree right next to the trail at head height. Cool looking little dude.
I wandered around in the fog for a while before I had to get off to work. It was a successful and satisfying morning. The fog behind the fresh greenery was a quiet portrait of spring. I was in awe. It was awesome. I sank into the landscape and, by observing closely, discovered some of the landscape’s details. Not a bad way to start the day.
It is pretty easy to talk about the weather. Who doesn’t talk about it? Problem is, most of the time what I hear is complaining. It’s too hot. It’s too cold. Too much rain. The snow is a nuisance. That kind of thing. Complaining about the weather is a national pastime and it is something that binds us together. Too bad, I say. Around here the weather is always changing, and I love that.
Last week the temperature got to -18º. The ground finally froze. I couldn’t stir the compost pile–it was solid. A couple of days ago it warmed up. The temperature rose to 52º. Then it rained all day. Then it got cold and snowed. The rain and warm weather made for some flooding. All that floodwater is ice now. The roads turned muddy, got rutted, then froze. Frozen ruts make for sketchy driving. But they look cool.
This month we have had temperatures that ranged 70 degrees, snow, rain, sleet, high winds, ice, mud, fog. Maybe if it were April that would seem right. But it is February. We still have had no major snow storm. There has been some snow in the mountains but we have not had more than two inches of snow at home. It would be nice to have some snow. It is winter after all. We have, however, had some stunning days, and many of them have made me stop in wonder.
Two mornings ago fog filled the field across the road, curling over the temporary ponds and the overflowing river. Tonight as the sun went down it draped its pink light onto the freshly snow-covered mountains. We can complain about the weather. Or we can smile at the beauty of the world. It is beautiful every day. Why can’t that bind us together instead?
Yesterday we had one more shot of summer. It was hot, in the 80’s. Not so much today. Right now, with darkness settled over the house, rain falls. It drips off the eave and taps the deck. It collects in the hollows of the field. It pools in the driveway and brushes the walls and trees. It is cool. Fall is here.
A couple of weeks ago I was fortunate to hike for three days on the long trail. It felt like fall up high. Leaves were starting to turn in spots. I had some heat but the nights were chilly. As the sun set on my first night, the last of the light caught a few maple leaves framed in the canopy. They were bright from the setting sun, and brighter still in their lack of chlorophyl.
This rain is not unlike the rain I heard on my last night. As I climbed up and over Mount Mansfield (my first time up there in almost 20 years in Vermont), fog blew in. I did not get much of a view. I waited up there for an hour or so, and caught a few glimpses of the scene below, but mostly I saw white.
That afternoon it rained a little here and there and then rained more heavily at night. I had thought that I might climb back up in the morning if it had cleared, but no go. So I headed down.
It rains again now, more heavily than when I started writing this. The nights are cooler. The days are shorter. Leaves change. Fall nudges summer out.
Last night we slept out in our tent next to the house. As we had the previous two nights as well. Apparently, this has become a tradition of sorts. This makes three years in a row for that activity on Memorial Day weekend. I woke with a sore back to the smell of smoke. The smell was faint at first, but got stronger. It was not worrisome. It smelled like a neighbor had a fire lit to ward off the morning’s chill. The temperature hovered around 50 degrees last night.
It turns out there are a series of forest fires in Quebec. The northern wind has been blowing the smoke our way. It seemed misty this morning but the sun should have long since burned off that business. What lingers is smoke:
We’ve got some poor air quality for this Memorial Day. The wind is forecast to shift later today, so things should clear at some point. Maybe in time for the parade in Vergennes late this morning. In the meantime, no panting allowed.
We got our first frost this morning. It was chilly and foggy, with ice settled on the grass and leaves and rocks. Mist rose from the river. I ran early again, determined to keep getting out there before the day gets too far underway. It always seems worth rising early, and today was no exception. I ran into the fog across the river, I watched the sun tip over the hills, and I saw the color seep into the leaves with the morning light. It was the last morning of summer. It let me know that fall is here. Apparently it arrived a day early.
It is raining. Not a warm spring rain, but a cold rain. It is damp. Chilly. It is getting dark. We have a fire in the stove. Our house is cozy.
The ground is saturated. The streams and gullies are full. The lawn has pools. The children have fun jumping in the drainage ditch next to the driveway. It is wet.
Yesterday it snowed. We woke to white, on the ground and falling. It came down heavily for a while. By afternoon it had melted. We got mud. The roads were wet when I ran. Soggy. I got dirty from splashing muck.
A few days ago we had fog. Rain, snow, mud, fog. Things are wet all over. The ground has thawed out for the most part. It won’t be long before things start to dry, but today we have moisture.
It’s Sog City. I am glad to be inside. It will feel good to crawl into bed tonight. I might just do it earlier than usual. Read a good book and conk out. That way I can get up early and run. Or not. If it is still raining, I just might stay under the covers, safe from all the water beasts.