Where’s winter at?
It doesn’t feel much like January. I spend the months of November and December reveling in the holidays and my consolation after putting away all the decorations and getting back to the daily grind is looking forward to the glory of winter. But our stretch of mild weather has left me a bit empty, maybe wistful even.
The familiar smell of my neighbor’s fireplace has been noticeably absent when I step out of the house in the morning. I haven’t even needed a winter coat much the past few weeks. The rhubarb I planted just weeks ago already put out new red shoots, and sprightly green leaves are now unfurled above the mulch I carefully lay- ered over the crowns to protect them from cold weather.
The Old Farmer’s Almanac predicts a very cold and snowy winter. I don’t put much stake in the reliability of such publications, but I do enjoy leafing through a copy every fall when the new one hits the shelves at my local We don’t have to worry about such things much these days. We have the Weather Channel to send our phones “rain alerts” and grocery stores with shelves stacked high with food that was grown halfway across the globe.
Lately, I find myself wondering if it will even snow this year. Granted, there are still a lot of days left in winter. The Old Farmer’s Almanac has been fairly accurate with its forecast for the mid-Atlantic region. Temperatures were warmer than average this past December. And, according to its regional forecast, the snowiest days are ahead of us.
I know that winter can be arduous, and that many of you are appreciating this warm spell. Truth be told though, I’ve become a woman for all seasons. I started out life all about the summertime, but, as I’ve matured, winter has begun speaking to me in ways I never imagined. Each of the seasons has a place for me and gets me in touch with the cycle of nature.
To be clear, I don’t look forward to shoveling the walk, but I do look forward to admiring a fresh, white blanket of new-fallen snow before boot prints and snow plows mar its perfection. The kids and I delight in observing hungry birds flock to the feeders in our backyard. The regulars are always there,
but a snowstorm blows in lots of new visitors looking for sunflower seeds for a quick burst of energy.
The outside world is different covered in snow. Intricate icicles form on the house and glisten in the sunshine. Tree branches sparkle. Snow crunches gently underfoot. The list goes on.
Technically, winter just started on Dec. 21, so maybe I shouldn’t expect too much too soon, but usually by this time even if we haven’t had snow, we have had plenty of cold days. Maybe I am responsible for all this mild weather though.
About two months ago I broke down and bought myself a bunch of new winter gear, to really get ahead of things and be prepared. After all, they were on sale.
The way so many things go, the likelihood that I’d need them this winter immediately shrank the sec- ond the box containing them was delivered to my front door. But, by the same token, by putting these thoughts in print, and doubting the power of Old Man Winter, I may summon the snow gods to dump a little of the white stuff on us here in Southern Maryland.
REC Act becomes law
Last month President Barack Obama signed the Outdoor Recreation Jobs and Economic Impact Act of 2016 into law.
Moving forward, the contributions of the outdoor recreation industry will be officially recognized and assessed as part of our nation’s gross domestic product. The latest statistics estimate that that the outdoor industry generates approximately $646 billion each year and employs 6.1 million Americans.
The outdoor lobby is ramping up for a strong year with the passage of this law and the creation of the Outdoor Recreation Industry Roundtable, an organization of 14 outdoor associations that promote fishing, hunting, camping, off-roading and other outdoor activities. Among its goals are increased access to more federally-managed public lands and waterways, promoting conservation, and creating more domestic jobs related to the outdoor industry.
With the passage of the REC Act, the roundtable is calling for any agency that manages public lands and water to analyze the economic impact of restriction or prohibition and provide justification before making decisions that restrict access. In the past, the economic impact was just a guess. Now there will be actual data to base decisions on, which is important for communities that have a high degree of outdoor recreation contributing to their local economies.
Last month, President-elect Donald Trump nominated U.S. Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.) for the position of Secretary of the Interior. This decision was heralded as a win for the outdoor industry by scores of hunting and fishing organizations.
Rep. Zinke grew up hunting and fishing in Montana and was personally vetted for the post by Donald Trump Jr., an avid hunter and angler himself. As the lone Congressman from Montana, Rep. Zinke has continually opposed the sale of federal lands. With his nomination and the passage of the REC Act, it looks as if the next few years will be good ones for the national parks and the people who visit them.
Firearm deer season is back
The winter portion of the firearm deer season opens today in Region B counties, which includes all of Southern Maryland. The three-day season also gives hunters the opportunity to hunt on private lands this Sunday, Jan. 8, in Calvert, Charles, and St. Mary’s counties.
The season’s bag limits allow for one antlered white-tailed deer and 10 antlerless white-tailed deer. Hunters who have already harvested two antlerless have the option to purchase a special stamp to take a bonus antlered deer in the weapon season of their choice. There is an antler point restriction in effect as well.