Friday, February 11, 2011

A COURSING IN THE VEINS


Yesterday morning began seriously cold. Three degrees below zero when I got up. A new low for the season. The snow underfoot creaked as I walked the few paces to the bird feeders and back—a sound that only happens when the temperature is in the minus range. I felt the sharp-edged cold the instant I stepped from the warm house. The birds were waiting for breakfast. Not having bothered putting on a jacket, gloves, toboggan, or any outdoor clothing other than exchanging my house slippers for rubber-bottomed moccasins, the cold penetrated my sweat pants and tee-shirt in an instant, first burning, then numbing my skin. I didn't tarry. 

This morning t was 14˚F when I made the same hasty trek. (Nope, no better dressed; the older I get, the steeper the learning curve.) No snow creak, just a crunch of icy crust. Again, a breakfast of seeds and grain and suet speedily delivered…and just as speedily tucked into—I heard the descending flutter of multiple wings behind my back even as I lunged the dozen feet to the cottage door. It's always nice to know your sacrifices and services are appreciated.

The good news is that Sunday it's supposed to soar into the low-40s. The talking head on the TV said so. I'm even inclined to believe him…though not so gullible that I'd put money on his proclamation. I may be a fool about how I dress for my morning bird-feeding dash, but I'm not foolish enough that believe a weather prediction for two days hence. Two hours, maybe—but never two days. 

Now, here's a confession…

I took a little drive yesterday. Checked out a couple of tangled old corners, a snowy field or two, a nearby woods. Just a brief, cursory reconnoiter of the local bailiwick with a few photo stops along the way—including one a few miles upstream, where the river in that particular section looks a bit smaller. As I said, the day was cold; still only in single digits. Yet even so—and here's the confession part—I felt or perhaps sensed a springishness to the air. 

Yes, I know it doesn't make good sense. Maybe it was just a trick of the bright sunlight. Or my imagination. Possibly misplaced hope. Or just maybe, like the countless big sugar maples in yards of the old farmsteads I'd passed along the way, the sunny February morning had my own sap rising…a coursing in the veins that whispered visions of spring.
——————— 

23 comments:

Gail said...

HI GRIZZ-
I love,love, love the pictures of the Wintry river. The coloring is pefect and SO intentional. I feel and smell the essence of your view and vision - even the coursing of Spring in your veins - I so get it. :-) - I also love your choice of attire to feed your wild life despite the obvious bone chilling impact in the early, barely, morning might. Amazing.
Well, thanks again for ALL your care and concern and shared wisdom about SO many things. You are quite the total package big guy!! :-)
Loving you always
Gail
peace.....

The Weaver of Grass said...

I do so agree that the sap is rising Grizz - I don't know what it is because it has been a horrible day here with thick freezing fog (after a warm sunny day yesterday) but somehow I feel hopeful of spring. Lovely photographs as always.

KGMom said...

I too am sensing spring in the air. This afternoon--when it is decidedly warmer than it has been of late--I heard songbirds singing in the trees. Can spring be far behind with these harbingers announcing its arrival.

ellen abbott said...

spring is definitely imminent. my maple is coming out, my daffodils are poking up. we've had record lows in the 20s the past two weeks but the few days between the two fronts it got up to the upper 60s during the day and is supposed to be up there again on Sunday. I'm betting it's the end of the cold weather.

Grizz………… said...

Gail…

This is a pretty stretch of water a few miles above the cottage. To me, it looks a bit smaller, river-wise and shallower…yet a few more miles north it's quite noticeably wider, deep, slower—a bigger-looking river.

My morning attire is not so much chosen as reflective of overall laziness—I've simply learned that if I move fast, weather can't catch me. Or else I'm yet too under-caffeined to notice.

Thank you, always, for your friendship and ebullient spirit…you are a delight.

Grizz………… said...

Weaver…

Thank you, and I agree, mysterious and illogical as it is. It was sunny and clear here today, as it was yesterday, but quite cold—maybe in the upper-20s˚F. No reason to feel spring in the blood. Yet, I do…

Grizz………… said...

KGMom…

Not all that much warmer here today. And the sparrows and wrens seemed to be singing more, as they have been for a couple of weeks. But remember, by the calendar, we're not quite halfway through official winter.

Mid-to-late March for spring is where to fix your mind and heart. Then you can only be pleasantly surprised should it come earlier.

Kelly said...

...I didn't have to pick Matty up after school today, so I headed to the Little Miami River to see what I could see...the sun was out for Heaven's sake! It was sort of warm at 39 degrees...crazy! After an hour's walk, though, it didn't feel warm at all, but...there was that hint of spring.

Grizz………… said...

Ellen…

You've certainly had warmer days and nights recently than us—we've not been above the 20s, with a few nights below zero. The ground is still white with snow/ice/snow. Today, late in the afternoon, it finally made it above 30˚F. You're obvious a few weeks ahead of us in regards to spring.

I'm not jealous…but I'll be glad if it makes it to the predicted above-40 Sunday. Frankly, for here, I doubt our cold weather is yet over.

Grizz………… said...

Kelly…

Kelly…

It was obviously a bit warmer down there than here—though we're not all that far apart. Maybe 35 miles as the crow flies?
It finally reached 32˚F here late in the afternoon, and is now still 31—so a lot of the snow/ice cover ought to melt.

Did you hear much birdsong during your walk? They seem to be picking up here—or maybe it's just me.

Hang in there, spring will arrive. Loved your deckside Cooper's hawk, BTW. Wonderful photos! I hope every Riverdaze reader takes a look.

Gail said...

I am going to look up ebullient!! :-)
Love.
Gail

Gail said...

I just looked ebullient up -

"Cheerful and full of energy"

nice, thanks Grizz :-)

Grizz………… said...

Gail & Gail…

Truer words were never writ. You are ebullient.

See, here at Riverdaze we not only provide cheerful amusement, low-brow comedy, and moments of spine-chilling drama—not to mention nature in all its seasonal guises and including a cast of characters numbering in the thousands (if you count bugs)…but a carful perusal of the comments can even have an expansionary effect on your vocabulary.

As my Uncle Raymond used to say, "You can't beat that with a stick!" :-D))

(Hey! I'm feeling a little ebullient myself!)

Tramp said...

While we are on the subject of vocabulary I'd like to ask about your use of the word "toboggan"; you said that it was something you weren't wearing when you ventured out into the early morning cold. Coming from the UK a toboggan is something I slide down a hillside on when it snows; here the Czechs use the word to refer to one of those long water-shutes at a swimming pool. Now my razor-sharp intuition tells me that you probably mean something else. What does that word mean in Ohio?
On the subject of walking on snow at very low temperatures, Germans refer to "metal eis" as it can have a metallic feel to it.
"Ebullient" for Gail, yes I'd second that.
...Tramp

Grizz………… said...

Tramp…

Ahhhh, toboggan. I can understand your confusion. I suppose it's a regional usage of the word, most common in the Midwest, South, and Great Lakes part of the U.S. though I don't know the full etymology. I've heard it all my life.

A toboggan in the way I employed it meant a knit cap—sometimes called a watch cap, stocking cap, sock cap, or ski cap. With or without a tassel or pom-pon (which most folks call a pom-pom) on the top. Knitters can whip one out in pretty short order—though mass-produced versions are available in practically every retail store I know which carries men's and women's clothing. I was in the local farm store the other day and they had a big display on sale, $3.00 each, in a variety of colors. They called them knitted toboggan caps.

One reference source insists the headgear's proper name is tuque—which I've never once heard used, or seen used in a catalog description, or a retail store display, etc. According to this site, tuque comes from toque, which is the name I consider for those big floppy hat things chefs wear on their heads. The same source also claims toboggans can have a brim or bill, like a ball cap, and ear flaps. I don't see how this latter feature could be possible since my notion of a toboggan is a tapered, knitted (wool or synthetics) sort of head sock that is, itself, what covers your ears. You push or fold it up when you don't need your ears covered and pull it down when you do—flaps would not only be redundant but downright silly.

I also know and use toboggan in the same way you do, as describing a sort of sled. But to put a finer point on the matter, I think of a sled as having runners and a platform which sits above the ice or snow, while a toboggan is flat-bottomed and rests directly on the surface. I wouldn't argue too strongly about using the terms interchangeably, however.

Those Germans are right—really cold snow does have a sort of metallic feel to it when you walk. I like their word. Sometimes, too, I think really cold snow feels almost waxy—accompanied by a distinctive creaky zing which squeaks as you walk.

Gail is, indeed, wonderfully, refreshingly ebullient, good of heart and warm of spirit.

Gail said...

HI GRIZZ and thanks Tramp for chiming in with a compliment about me!! Wow - I am blushing a bit.
And Grizz now I have some another word to look up - "perusal" -
Love to you
Gail
peace.....

deb colarossi said...

I absolutely agree.
I felt it and it's glorious and here we go and isn't life a wonder always.

Grizz………… said...

Gail…

Hey, Tramp and I are just callin' 'em like we see 'em—and in you we see ebullience.

Grizz………… said...

deb colarossi…

If you try to explain it logically or scientifically, you can't. Or I can't, anyway. But it's as true as the sun and wind and snow-covered earth underfoot—there's spring magic in the air for those of us attuned to the seasonal rhythms. Maybe it's a genetic thing, I dunno. But it ISN'T just wishful thinking.

Hilary said...

It's been very cold here too.. and just today beginning to warm up. The sun's angle is definitely more springlike these days.. despite the cold. Of course anything would seem spring-ish to you after stepping out in the icy cold in a t-shirt. :)

Robin said...

Oh, days before the blizzard Meander and I went out in the morning and the birdsong was different and it's been different ever since.

This morning it was strident, like old-time house wives... sweeping and dusting and keeping each other informed of the tales of the day...chitter-chitter-chitter-CHEEP. Chitter-chitter-chitter-CHEEP.

It seems odd to hear it while standing on a six foot high pile of snow, but I looked up... and there were a pair of what I call 'Weasley's' (from the Harry Potter books). You know, those common wrens/sparrows (forgive my ignorance) with red breasts that just populate our summer days?

Oh, Spring is coming and if those tiny birds could just coax the sun to wake and warm a little faster, I would be forever in their debt.

Until then, I'll listen to their gossip and not share one word.

Grizz………… said...

Hilary…

We're definitely into a warming trend here—though how long (or if) it lasts is anybody's guess.

I'll have you know sweats-pants and a tee-shirt are my usual wintertime bird-feeding, morning-scrutunizing attire…though below-zero temps do rather test my fortitude and sanity.

Grizz………… said...

Robin…

Love your analogy to cheeping wrens/sparrows with old-time gossiping house wives. A smack-on word painting! Wonderful!

And you're exactly right. I, too, noticed the chittering-cheeping increase at least a week before the ice storm's arrival—and even amid those days when we were without power and I was out scrounging for wood. No question about it, the birds are feeling something stirring.

If it's any consolation, in spite of a couple of warm (above freezing) days in a row, our ice and snow is hanging tough—melting, but not yet to the point where patches or brown earth show, and still hard and dangerously slick to walk on, even for Moon the Dog. It's going to take a few more days yet.

Maintain hope!