Saturday, February 28, 2015

Farewell February

It is with absolutely no regret that we say goodbye to February 2015.  The polar jet stream controlled our weather for most of the month.  Snowfall was frequent and generous but the cold was extreme.  More than four hours outside plowing snow when the temperature was below zero came with a price.  The 100 day cough that followed removed all desire or ability to do much of anything.

Today was crisp and clear and the temperature may have climbed into the twenties.  Remembering when we enjoyed outdoor winter activity here, Amy and I dug out the snowshoes and went for a walk.  Fresh marks in the snow show our path toward the notch.  We continued to the back meadows and returned home via the lane.  On this day outdoor activity just felt fine.

We had to check on things at the arbutus wall.  Exposed to afternoon sun, trapped heat is melting the snow despite temperatures remaining below freezing.  Lumps and lines mark the maturing snow as it moves toward a liquid state.  The moisture filled crack in the long thin flat stone has frozen enough times to split the stone.  On a warmer day, I will lift off the top piece and get mankind's first look at the interior of this stone.  Fossils may be hidden there.

This leaf has just fallen from its tree.  Had it been in contact with the snow for any long period of time, it would have melted snow and fallen into the hole.  If we walk this way again soon, we will look for the progress that this leaf has made toward finding ground.  We would like to see some ground ourselves.

Our first picnic is a ways off.  Snow piles on the seat boards have reached the point where any new snow will simply roll off.  The far edges face south and show signs of melting.  Perhaps we have turned the corner.

Earlier this month, bright sunlight and pleasant temperatures lured our neighbor out to hang his sap lines.  He did not drill the tap holes but all is ready.  Light amber syrup is highly prized.  It can be made for only a short time when the sap first begins to flow.  We usually see those early runs in February but not this year.  The quality of the syrup will be determined by how quickly the warmer air moves in.  Last year the early warmth resulted in no light amber syrup.  Only medium amber or dark were available.  The taste is still great but the visual appeal is lessened.  So we watch and wait.  At some point daytime temperatures must climb above freezing and the sap will flow.

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