|Light on Crows|
|Can It Be?|
|The First Robin!|
|Shows of the Old Apple Tree|
|Robin in a Tangle of Branches|
|Ice Thin as Eggshells|
|Bobo Hunting the Hummocks|
|Except a Lingering Driveway Glacier|
|Light Shines on Elmira Pond|
Sunlight is a break in the weather, nonetheless. A break from rain, fog and cloud cover. A time for the peat moss to photosynthesize light, for clover to expand and blades of grass to grow. It might be a false spring -- it is yet February -- but the ground is ready to absorb the sun. Changes are quickly happening like a lab project gone wild.
The pond has a new look every morning. I try to gauge how much ice melted, if any early migrators might take advantage of a few open pools. Reeds and grass poke out or bend over as if the pond is waking up and has bed-head.
When I see the first red-breasted robin, then I know we are changing seasons. The dogs miss the first flutters. Disappointing because they are bird dogs. My camera missed the first arrival, too. So Todd refused to believe I saw robins.
Today I'm armed with camera and I stand still with the dogs. The robins gray feathers blend in with the bare landscape, but I watch as Bobo's ears perk. She sees the movement. Two robins hop across new peat, seeking old seeds from last season. They graze, hop and keep a keen eye to us. Bobo dashes after her first robins.
It's official. Robins have returned to the hood.
Chattering, both birds find refuge in the naked apple tree. It looks so stark in the sunlight with the snow drifts gone from its trunk. Gnarled branches cast shadows where robins play hide-and-seek. This tree is old, a relic from the past that miraculously still offers food generations after it was planted. It is one of my favorite spots to watch the pond.
Ice has thinned to silver eggshells on Elmira Pond. A few hard frosts and it yet resists a full melt. Like a baby nearing her first steps, I know the melt will happen in a quick moment. The first steps for spring. The biggest change will happen when the ice recedes and migrators return to open water.
It's so early, yet I'm giddy for the birdwatching season to begin!
We explore the pond's eastern edge; something we don't do once water birds arrive because they nest here. So it's a treat to walk on the spongy peat and let Bobo hunt mice in the dry humps of grass. I've read that some Idaho peat ponds may yet have bog lemmings. Rodent-watching isn't my thing, so I'll leave it at a passing thought.
I look back at my house, the office window that gives me the best view of the pond and I'm struck by how quickly the snow has gone. Last year was drier, not a drought, but noticeably dry. And tree beetles attacked the pines. It can take several years for beetles to kill a tree and my heart sinks at the early signs. Dead pine needles and dead crowns are barely discernible, but there they are.
Droughts hasten the work of tree beetles. They do well in dry times. I hope the rainy season is merely taking a breather before dumping more rain on the Pacific Northwest. An early spring is one thing; an early dry spring is a potential threat to water eco-systems, grazing ranches and forest fires.
All I can do is watch and wait.
And then I remember that the darkness never does overcome the light. Thus, I soak up the sunshine and watch the robins flit.
Linking up with Abracabadra for Wordless Wednesday. Photos by Charli Mills. (No bog lemmings or mice were harmed.)