Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Winter Update #3: Wonderland!

Jamaica Plain, MA, Jan 11-18, 2011
snowy and cold

Jan 12th - my first Blizzard! Or was it?

According to Wikipedia, a blizzard must include wind speeds of at least 35 mph, along with the requisite dumping of snow. Apparently it hit 80mph on the Cape, but I couldn't find figures for windspeed in Boston.

I must have caught the tail end, at any rate, because by 9:30am on Wed. when I headed out the winds were considerably calmer (though still vigorous). It was also magically quiet - the clunky SUV and snow plow that passed me were transformed into harmless whisperers by the thick carpet of snow on the road.

It was my first time walking around the Arboretum during a snowstorm, and I was enchanted. I felt like I was inside one of those snow globes that you turn upside down. So much snow! Everything white and fluffy!

And quiet - muffled, even- but not silent. Sounds of the storm: the delicate pattering of snowfall, sirens in the distance, and the sudden tremendous cracking of tree branches collapsing under the weight of 12-15 inches of snow. Exciting, startling, and a little scary (especially when I noted a heavy, potentially-fatal fallen branch crossing my path).

I also heard some chickadees. Saw a passing robin. Yes, the birds were out and about even through falling snow!

Today, Jan 18, we got some more snowfall and I wandered through the Arboretum, my ears on alert for the occasional industrious bird: three chickadees under the protective dome of red-branched Japanese Yew, a dozen fat sparrows in the Bussey Brook Meadows, a brilliant-red cardinal.

Cardinals take the cake for Bird of the Season, for sheer visual glory. They are so striking against the black-and-white of a snowy landscape. I was especially impressed by a giant cardinal I saw yesterday, who was easily twice as fat as previous cardinals I've seen. Was he the fittest of them all? The prize-winning forager? Extra-fluffed up for warmth?

The answer is unclear, but I'm in awe of these hardy birds who can keep going all winter! I take inspiration from them.


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