Saturday, January 16, 2010

January Thaw

A couple of weeks ago I saw these geese in perfect formation making hard for the south. I thought at the time it might be a sure sign of impending severe winter weather. If the hardy holdovers decide all of a sudden in the middle of January that maybe they better head south after all--well, I thought maybe we ought to pay attention.
But what was impending was a big thaw. In a week's time we went from this...
To this.
It's been downright mild, with temperatures staying above freezing even at night. The temperature sign downtown this afternoon said 48 degrees. And it's been rainy, too.
The result, of course, is a spate of snowmelt and runoff. The river is high, but it will stay in its banks--for now, and no one's home is threatened. But there is a lot of lowland flooding.
The geese would have loved it around here.
It breaks up the monotony of January. I wouldn't say that getting the mail is life threatening, but you have to lean over the freshet to reach the mailbox.
All that and more runs into a culvert and under the road right into our north pasture. Now when I say "my lake" I really have one.
I thought about a trip to the local hatchery to pick up a Bucket O' Trout--maybe super size it--and dump 'er in, tie up some Pellet flies, chum with puppy chow, and while away the hours catching trout in my own backyard. That there would be your "home waters."
But I didn't do it. Wouldn't want one of those hatchery monsters to eat my dogs.
By the way, if you think only dogs would be tempted to wade into that, I came home last evening and there were six or seven neighborhood boys wading in it, through it, and across it. Most in T shirts. One kid fell in up to his neck.
Well, there you go: my lake's already got a Polar Bear Club.
As I write this, though, the water has begun to drop noticeably, the stars are out, there's a skin of ice on the mud in the shed yard, and the burbling of Mailbox Creek is but a memory.
My guess is that winter isn't over yet. In fact, I'm one who believes that in the economy of winter any amount of thaw will be repaid in full with snow and cold.
That's OK. The woodshed's full, it's no longer pitch dark by 5 PM, my snow boots and insulated liners that one of my boys wore into the pasture lake will dry out in time, and I can see the light at the end of winter's tunnel. Besides, we still want to get up to the ski area a few times before Spring.
Bring it on.

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