Saturday, January 14, 2012

January Lake

The lake is beautiful on a somewhat-warm Tuesday—a glistening coat of ice making its surface totally placid.  Ice begins about three inches out from the liquid shoreline. I sit at the end of the dock and place a foot on the surface. It feels thick, but I don’t stand up. Being in ice-water up to my thighs is not on my to-do list today.

We walk around the lake—we haven’t been here since before Christmas. Forsythia branches are covered with buds—a promise of spring. Now only the pachysandra and pines sport a deep green. Grass is yellow-tinted and dotted with tan. Red hawks seem to be flying lower than usual. I’m surprised. Isn’t it easier to spot prey now that the oaks and sycamores have dropped their leaves?

Two mallard ducks swim in a tiny, iceless pool where the shore bells out slightly. At the shallow south end of the lake, where water lilies crowded last summer, the two resident swans swim.  A neighbor tells us that they had seven cygnets last summer but he thinks most were grabbed by snapping turtles. Graceful as ever, the parent couple seems perfectly content in the frigid water. I hope to see this year’s nestlings in the summer.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Blame it on Global Warming

            Blame it on global warming—the volatile changes in temperature. Saturday was sunny and warm. It was the tenth anniversary/protest of prisoners brought to Guantanamo Prison and detained without trial. I was able to wear a sleeveless orange jump suit (representing the prison garb) over just a cotton, long-sleeved T for our Montclair vigil—and I was comfortably warm. Sunday morning was warm enough for just a raincoat over a light sweater. But by the afternoon, the wind picked up, the clouds rolled in, and I put on my winter coat, earmuffs and gloves to take a walk in the local park.  Ditto for this morning.

            I can use my orange cat as a bellwether. Days when she lies on the radiator moping, or watches the birds from the window, are days when I need to bundle up. It’s either too cold, too windy, wet, or all three. Otherwise, her favorite pastime is to sit in a patch of sunlight in the backyard.

            After that strange October snowstorm, everyone feared we were in for a tough winter. Now—not that I’m hoping for snow—I’m surprised that we’ve gotten to January 9th without seeing the white stuff. And mustard greens, kale, and beets are still growing in my garden. There’s lettuce too, under a plastic dome. Definitely unusual!  But we haven’t even reached mid-winter. Who can guess how the weather might turn?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy Warm New Year!

            What an incredible day it is for January 1st! Temperature in the high forties and yesterday was even warmer.  After that insane snowstorm in October, everyone was certain we had to hunker down and be ready for the worst winter ever.  Yes, I know winter is only 32 days old.  And it may yet show itself to be a chilling horror. But so far, it’s come in like a lamb.

            Lettuce, kale, pak choi, carrots and beets are still growing in my garden—along with copious weeds. So, with the surface soil melted enough to cultivate, I spent two hours yesterday and one today pulling out all the uninvited greens.  I figure, if I get them out now, there’s more chance there’ll be fewer of them when it’s time for spring planting.

            I’m not the only one taking advantage of the mild temperatures. Many people were walking and jogging in the park. Neighbors across the street were trimming bushes and raking away leaves.
            “It’s spring!” the man called to me.

            While I know it can’t be spring, humans aren’t the only ones confused. The snow drops have blossomed—a bit ahead of schedule, and I saw a cherry tree blooming in Manhattan yesterday.  

            But, though I love our Mother Nature, I don’t think we can trust her to not throw us another curve before the spring equinox.  After all, she is asserting her independence from the changes humans have wrought on her domain.