For the first time this winter, the constant stream of storms has abated. A few days of above freezing weather first created a skating rink in my driveway but by now the passage is pretty much bare of snow and ice. Overhead, unfortunately, the skies remain gray and overcast, and the effect is a gloomy one.
The wheel of the year is turning, however. The bluebirds, which I haven’t seen since snow first blanketed the mountain, are back. Where they were hiding, I have no idea. Did they venture off the mountain to some sheltered tangle with a bit of open water? Or did they stay here all the time, and I just somehow missed seeing them? Joining the bluebirds now are robins, too. One muddy afternoon, a huge flock of them, more than 100 birds, settled in a muddy field, scavenging for hours.
Other than birds and the ubiquitous squirrels, I haven’t seen much of the forest animals. The deer, I know, are wandering around, munching my juniper bushes. But the other residents—the skunk, raccoon, fox and the like—are not in evidence, neither by sight, sound or smell.
Colder weather has returned after the teasing thaw, but even that doesn’t feel as deep as before. The days are mostly near freezing, and the nights in the ‘teens. The temperature rises and falls, some days warmer and some still quite cold. Even that is an improvement over the constant chill of two or three weeks ago. The cold days are just that—cold days, not the cold weeks with no end in sight. So the season turns, slightly but inexorably towards winter’s end.