Spring may be tardy this year with over a foot of snow still coating the ground. Prior to the early March storms, we were hoping for early flowering bulbs making their way through the frozen soil. That is unlikely for at least a few weeks as the piles of shoveled snow have melted and then reformed as an icy blanket that weighs heavily on the beds below forming an impenetrable barrier. Yet even against a deep and wide white background, animals have started their pre-Spring activities.
My sister-in-law Rosana told Juana that a nest of baby birds had just hatched outside her Chelsea apartment. The male bluebirds that are frequenting our feeder are sporting an iridescent shade of blue, readying themselves to attract a mate. Thrushes, finches, woodpeckers, titmice, snowbirds, cardinals, bluebirds and others are loading up on seed from our feeders waiting for the first new growth of the season to feed upon. The tracks of ground feeders come and go each day as a layer of snow melts creating a fresh canvas for them to mark.
A few squirrels have emerged from torpor and scamper on the rails of the fence understanding that a shortcut across the lawn will be much harder to traverse than typical as they fall through the snow. Their paw prints surround the birdfeeders as they greedily eat the castoffs of what the birds can’t be bothered with.
Juana spots a solitary fox walking the ridge seeking a squirrel, mouse or other rodent that has found itself in the wrong place and the wrong time. It has no success as it keeps moving by. Its trail appears well worn as the fox moves through the snow with little extra effort.
The oddest animal is a groundhog that is plowing and looping through the snow. It emerges from a rocky outcropping on our north facing hill. It leaps upward over the snow landing in a puff of white in a pattern that reminds me of a very inelegant manatee coming up and down for air. It turns downhill and powers through more quickly though buried up to its neck in snow. It rests for a bit and then moves out of view. There is no vegetation for it to munch on. It has emerged from its den too early as perhaps have we.