|The stream icing up.|
Cold grips the land. On the hillsides over two feet of snow blankets the ground. Nighttime temperatures dip into negative numbers, sometimes with double negative digits. It snows often, sometimes light flurries that last for days and accumulate little.
The chickadees, juncos, and blue jays are constantly at the feeders. When the hairy woodpeckers dart in they look enormous. This year both red and white breasted nuthatches visit us. Occasionally a female cardinal stops by, but her visits are rare and the male even more so.
Squirrels are a nuisance and we try to discourage them. Our dogs thrill at chasing them away and we set have-a-heart traps in the hopes of relocating them. So far we have only caught the nocturnal flying squirrels. Our big fear is the squirrels chewing into the house and setting up home over the soffits, which happens all too often up in this neck of the woods. I’m not above using the old Winchester 410 to knock them out of the trees. The dogs love that.
A walk down to the stream requires snowshoes. The snow isn’t as deep there and the dogs can run through the woods. I worry about finding deer yarding up in the shelter of the fir trees, but so far it hasn’t happened. To stress out wintering deer is something I do not want to do.
Snowshoe hare tracks are all over the place. Coyotes cross the stream on an ice bridge. Deer have passed through, but all the tracks are old. Sometimes we see where the beaver has dragged brush, but not this year.
Occasionally we see grouse tracks or droppings beneath favored trees. The dogs always show interest. Sometimes a grouse will roar out from up high in a tree, but more often they remain hidden and watch. To flee unnecessarily burns too many precious calories.
|Our youngster Maggie.|
Camp Grouse always feels particularly cozy when the temperatures drop and the snow gets deep. Looking at the big pile of firewood brings a good feeling and the woodstove is glowing. Winter is a time for drawing in and savoring the place we live.