Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Just around the corner, maybe ...

It’s a little early to say anything for sure and I don’t want to push our luck, but it started to feel for the first time today that spring might be around the corner. We’ve had a week of days without snow (only blowing snow last Tuesday), the sun has managed to come out at least briefly on each of those days and temperatures have edged up into the mid- to upper 30s. The 40s are in the weekend forecast, 50s perhaps next week.

This has been an unusual winter down here in the southern hills because we’ve had snow cover since December, almost unheard of. That’s hard on wildlife accustomed to grazing through the winter. Visiting Saturday with Mary Ellen down on the farm south of Cambria, she reported that deer as well as wild turkeys and pheasants have been sharing the bounty at her bird feeders.

It’s been kind of hard, too, in cabin fever terms on those of us humans who live in town but are accustomed to being outside. There have been plenty of opportunities to shovel snow, but little else unless you hunt or ice fish, and my hunting and ice fishing are confined to the frozen food department at HyVee.

During an average southern Iowa winter --- Tennessee one week; Wyoming the next --- a snowmobile dealer would go broke down here so there aren’t many of those around; since the snow cover usually is inconsistent there’s no point in maintaining cross-country ski trails; and snowshoes didn’t occur to me until the Olympics. Mostly I like to hike around. But this year all the hiking surfaces have been covered with either an inch of solid ice or two feet of snow.

But there’s hope. Walking around at the cemetery after lunch, I waded through snow knee-deep in places to look down off the hills into a strip of land recently acquired by the conservation commission. This will connect the Chariton River Greenbelt area to the south with U.S. 34 on the north and I’m anxious to see what happens here. Since I couldn’t be sure exactly where the ground starts to drop away under the drifts I didn’t get much of a photo (top), but at least the snow shows up.

Then down to the marsh where a path has been blazed along the trail to the water (actually ice right now) so I think I’ll go back tomorrow wearing appropriate footwear and see what’s been up there during the last few weeks..

Once thing’s for sure --- once the snow goes the mud will come as the bottom goes out of every unpaved road we’ve got and graveled surfaces are swallowed up. But once the mud goes, spring will be here.


I set out for the museum after lunch intending to get down to work (and I did manage to bring home the content for the annual meeting newsletter so not all was lost), but then Bill came along, the alternate Frank showed up and we sat there frittering away the afternoon talking horses for some reason.

By the time we’d all shared our horse wisdom, it was time to come home and bake the bread that had been rising for tonight’s Lenten soup supper (tomato bisque in case you’re interested; fish chowder next Tuesday at 6 p.m. at St. Andrew’s --- if you’re hungry come on down).

At least we got around to Bible study this time. Everyone got so busy yakking last week (Dru’s chicken-noodle) that before we knew it --- without doing what we’d come to do --- it was time for those who live a considerable distance from Chariton to head out on the black ice then accumulating and dodge deer on the road back home and we called it a night.

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