Morning sunlight blasted across the snowy landscape. A chillier day today, but on the sunny side of my place there might as well have been a spring thaw going on. I stepped out early to shovel the couple inches of recent snow (I’ve been lax, I know) so that the sun could clear away the remnants. Gangs of crows flapped about—I think my neighbor must be feeding ’em out back of his place—and I heard the bright voices of chickadees in the wood up the hill.
Long icicles hung from all the eaves. Shoveling the sunny front ramp, I heard the squee! of a robin overhead. Looked up, counted seven robins flying in a hurry over the roof. Canadian birds, here for the winter. Kind of made my day. Especially when you think that in just a few short months, our resident robins will have returned to nest.
A long day of work indoors, and then a flurry of quick errands (multiple gulls in town), and finally Jack and I found ourselves racing sundown. We didn’t get to Beech Hill after 4—but sundown is later now than it used to be.
A solitary car in the parking lot, pulled in at a straight angle. People pulling on snowshoes. A dog on a leash. Jack and I got ready to go quickly and nodded hello on our way up. We ascended swiftly. No birds that I could see or hear, but what a lovely sky—orange and blue, bisected by long stripes of high clouds. The sun sat momentarily atop the Rockville Ridge. Beech Nut stood sturdy as stone at the summit
Bracingly cold returning, heading into the breeze. I probably could’ve put on gloves, but I didn’t. My mustache crackled.
We met two of the parked car’s occupants snowshoeing up. “What a pretty dog,” said one. “Thanks,” I said—then, to Jack. “She called you a pretty dog.” He just ignored me.
Nearing the road, I heard a solitary note—the call of a brown creeper. That was it on the hill today.
Tonight I stepped out to suck in a last lungful of the single-digit air and realized that this is the last day of January, and so in just a few short months—maybe only three—I’ll be hearing spring peepers from my deck. Time has a way of hurrying along here at the 44th parallel.
Beech Hill List
Beginning at 4:15 p.m., I hiked the open trail.
1. Brown creeper (voice)
2. American crow
3. Black-capped chickadee
4. American robin
5. Herring gull
6. Ring-billed gull