Tempting the gods
Some of you may recall that my Jan. 6 column was titled “Where’s winter at?” Well, we now know the answer to that question. It showed up right here in Southern Maryland on Saturday morning.
As I regularly checked in on our evolving weather forecast during the week and learned that the heaviest snowfall was predicted to occur in our area, I knew that Old Man Winter must have seen my taunt and decided to humor me. The timing is just too close to call it anything else.
You might say that column was a bit of a gamble since it had to be turned in a few days in advance of the storm, but the sentiment expressed in it was certainly heartfelt. I am further impressed by the pronouncement that schools were closed Monday in Calvert and St. Mary’s counties. Some even got a bona fide snow day out of it.
I had been missing winter, and every minute of this snowfall has been enjoyable. When I woke up Saturday morning, I knew there was already some of the white stuff on the ground as soon as I opened my eyes. I didn’t need to raise the blinds and look. My bedroom had an extra bright glow that only comes from sunlight reflecting off millions of icy particles of snow.
Those new snow pants and boots I bought in November proved their worth from the get-go. Although the weather was frigid, with the trapper hat and the rest of my kit, I got along very comfortably. I now realize how enjoyable winter can be when you have all the right gear. I could go sledding and build snowmen with the kids. My toes didn’t feel frozen and my neck and ears were protected from the biting wind and blowing snow.
In my Jan. 6 column, I mentioned that I missed watching the birds feeding in the snow. This weekend, there were so many birds at our feeders that feeding frenzy would be an understatement.
There were birds on the feeders, under the feeders, patiently waiting on the roof of the feeder for their turn at a feeding port, scattered in the bushes and trees near the feeder getting ready to make their move, and a few desperately hungry souls were even brave enough to venture into the open garage to get to the head of the line and feast straight from the seed bag itself.
The bright red male cardinals are such a beautiful sight against a snow-covered back- drop, and I can’t think of any way that bluebirds can look more brilliant. After two days of observing, I think my favorite bird to watch in the snow, though, is the dark-eyed junco. You don’t really get to see them much in the warmer months, which is the precise reason that they are known as “snow birds.”
Usually the birds fly off from the feeders when I approach. But this past weekend, maybe they were either too cold or too hungry to care, which made for some great bird watching. I could walk right up to my feeders, standing an arm’s length away, and marvel at the best views I’ve ever had. I was close enough to ruffle the feathers of one particularly splendid-looking downy woodpecker by blowing on him.