Cold weather is settling in around my cabin in a way that I haven’t seen in a few years. Below zero and near-zero temperatures are the norm at night. No evidence of a temperature rising above freezing, even for a few hours, is seen in the forecasts for the next 10 days or so. It’s winter as we used to get winters, at least for now. It remains to be seen how long this cold spell will last or what the rest of the winter will bring. Winter still has a long way to go before spring.
For the most part, I’m enjoying the normal winter weather, though it wouldn’t hurt my feelings if it was sunny more often. The forest is quiet, mostly sleeping until spring. Sometimes a vulture cruises by, or a Cooper’s Hawk scatters the smaller birds at my feeders. Occasionally, the scream of a pileated woodpecker, outraged by something, breaks the silence. But mostly those noises only make the silence seem deeper.
I discover that a deer stood on my lowest front step, no doubt to better reach the top of the juniper bush beside it. I find the tracks in the morning. It was as silent in that unseen midnight raid as the forest around me. A rabbit bounced along the driveway, hopped the whole way around a beech tree and then headed deeper into the woods, passing within a foot of the chicken coop when it did. Rabbits are nearly always silent, winter or no.
Day light progresses a little each day. I’ve been so observant about the minute of daylight I gain in the mornings that I’ve completely not noticed the progression of daylight in the evenings. No longer is it dead dark at 5 p.m. Yesterday, it was still quite light at 5:20 and a little light remained in the sky at 6 p.m. I find that a welcome change. I may still hibernate in the cabin after dark when the temperature begins its nightly nosedive, but at least I have a few more minutes each day before that happens.