Thursday, February 21, 2013

Deer trail in winter

Usually deer trails are not as well-worn or as visible as the one in today’s photo. Frequently the trails peter out within a few feet or disappear into a tangle that deer but not people can navigate. This one is the exception.

With snow gone, at least for the next 24 hours, the path deer take through the woods on their way to an open field stands out. In summer, undergrowth will make this trail as difficult to follow as most of them, and the only reason the path is so visible now is that a day or so of above-freezing temperatures allowed deer hooves to leave a muddy trace of their presence.

The woods are nearly uniformly brown right now. Even the moss on the stones of the old fence has taken on a faded look. Mosses are one of the earliest to brighten up in the spring, though, so when that happens I’ll know spring is truly upon me.

For now, winter’s grip is pretty tight, with snow and freezing rain expected tomorrow and over the weekend. In fact, February is shaping up as colder than normal by a few degrees. That’s the first month that’s been below normal for some time. Still, “normal” is only taken from the average of February temperatures for the past 30 years. When I look at February averages going back to World War II (and some even earlier dates), this year’s February is pretty average and not actually below normal. At least it’s not another month of warmer weather. I suppose I should be glad of that, however small a thing it is.


Scott said...

I just realized fairly recently that meteorologists were using the past 30 years as their ranges for "normal." I guess, in one sense, that's legitimate, but I'd prefer to have "normal" based on conditions reaching as far back as records exist. Then, we'll see just how abnormal our recent temperatures have been, I suspect. Heck--our records don't go back centuries, for goodness sake; we're lucky if we've got 100 years of data.

Carolyn H said...

Scott: I'm completely with you on this one. What's the point of having data for 100 years if you don't use it? And, by only using the last 30 years of info, it certainly hides the true impact of climate change over the long term.