Tempt­ing the gods

Maryland Independent - - Sports - Jamie Drake jamiedrake­out­doors@out­look.com

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.

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