Saturday, February 12, 2011

Winter Thaw

         The temperatures are supposed to climb to nearly 40° this week.  This promises to make things soggy and damp.   Usually, this is my least favorite kind of weather.  In an effort to be upbeat about it, I tried to think about something positive for gray, drippy days.  One thing I came up with is that every winter I notice that during a thaw, I see the animals acting, well, a little crazy!   I distinctly remember last year seeing no less than nine squirrels gathering at the edge of a playground, chowing down on tidbits that had been covered by snow for months. They were so absorbed in their eating, that I got within three feet of them before they scattered.  I was mesmerized by the tiny little knob-like thumbs they deftly use to hold their food.  I also saw a flock of about 60 starlings swarming the decorative pear tree in my yard.  They were gobbling up the tiny, decayed brown fruits as if it were a Vegas buffet! After gorging, the birds were flying in crazy patterns.  I think the pears were  fermented.  
            While teaching a class outdoors last week, it was only 12°, up from -3° earlier that day.  We didn’t think we’d see much, due to the cold, so when the group spotted two obvious kill sites…a bird and a rabbit probably killed by a bird of prey, it was very exciting.  I am taking a group of students out to the same spot this Wednesday, which has a forecast of 41°.   While it will be hard to beat the circle of life we witnessed on the 12° day, now I am looking forward to maybe witnessing a little animal lunacy!

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