Category: Weather, Tides & Geography

A Squirrel’s Breath

By , May 8, 2017

Saturday we experienced one of those ineffable Southeast Alaska spring mornings: calm, cool air, fragrant with alder blossoms; sun rising clear over the Coast Range to the east, illuminating the pod of sea lions pursuing fish—relatively quietly, for them—in the fjord below.

Our recently arrived songbirds sang to greet the morning: hermit and varied thrushes, Townsend’s warblers, ruby crowned kinglets and Savannah sparrows. Our steadfast, resident Pacific wrens sang their long, defiant land-rights claims from high spots on the beach. Hummingbirds flitted back and forth in their never-ending struggle to dominate and control our dooryard resources, the nectar feeders. All this bellicosity, expressed in the sweetest tones, did little to alter the sense of serenity that permeated the day.

I stood among all of this, listening also to a quiet, yet comparatively loud commotion near the smoke house.

A squirrel apparently had business near there. As I turned to look for it, I must have startled the animal, because I heard it “exclaim” as our red squirrels do when surprised. I also heard it scrabble away through the trees.

I should point out that our local red squirrels are the smallest squirrels in North America. Our average squirrel is only about as large as an American robin.

I never saw the squirrel itself. Instead, I saw something minute, yet startling: I watched a small puff of vapor, lit by the morning sun, dissipate in the still morning air. I actually saw the squirrel’s breath.

That, dear reader, is a rare, still spring morning!

Winter Wanes

By , February 1, 2017

Today is the first day of spring according to the old Celtic reckoning (see The Circle Turns Toward Spring). Most years, we mark this day with a certain amount of irony, claiming the birth of spring in the middle of wintry weather.

Not this year.

Continue reading 'Winter Wanes'»

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