Saturday, February 02, 2008

February 1st, 2008

The end of January temperatures went up into the 40s, then down again. The first of February found about eight inches of snow on the ground.

---February update---
February continued cold and colder, at times sub zero. There was a lot of deep snow, piles of lovely white snow that made driving difficult and dangerous. Ice built up on top of the dam, especially on the channel along the side, where ice created a sort of funnel the water would go through. This reminds me; I don't actually know how an old power dam of this type would work. Everything I find on the internet has to do with newer type dams. I think perhaps that there was some sort of power wheel in the side channel. (Photo: Ice on the dam)

A few times the ice melted, and we had very high water. Mergansers were seen almost daily; early in the month the "Hooded" and later, the uncommon "Common". Beautiful, fast birds. The swans continue to dabble wherever they find a patch of open water. They look so ridiculous, tipped up like giant white mallards!
In the snow leading from alongside the top of the dam to the bottom I frequently saw a wide trail of some thick bodied animal sliding along. Beaver? Peripatetic carp? Too big for muskrat. The thing about the carp is a joke. I do see them below the dam, in the cold water, moving very little. Deer seem to have returned.
We had a return visit of the sharpshinned hawk. This time he was not so pretty, (but still pretty!) his colors not so bright. I don't know if it was a different hawk or if he had just moulted when I saw him before. He sat in the same place, and ate another small bird. A junco this time.

We took a trip further afield this month. A sunny day with clear roads, and we went to see Lake Michigan; I have never seen it in the winter. We took off late enough so that we would be able to see the sunset over the lake.

We stopped at the town park at Covert - no reason, it was just the first one we came to. The road was piled high with snow and there was no where to park, so we just left the car in the road. There were steps and a boardwalk, icy and snow covered but better than wading over the dune in knee-high snow. We got to the top of the dune and I took a few pictures. A long spread of beach, then some more dunes, then the open water. I thought. I didn't understand what I was looking at.

We got down to the beach (only filling my boots up with snow once) and walked toward the second set of "dunes." I'm glad I was with my "native guide"; otherwise I might have tried to walk out there! He pointed down at his feet--"That's the edge of the water." The he pointed out at those --things-- and said, "That's Lake Michigan."

What I had taken to be dunes were huge, enormous, frozen waves! They towered over us, terrifying. Like enormous swells on the ocean, like ocean breakers frozen hard. I still can't quite get my mind around it. (Photo: Frozen waves)

The final amazement of the month was the "blood moon" on the night before Lantern Festival. It was clear and we were able to watch the whole thing; from the start of the eclipse to its gradual reddening and darkening; and then lighter and then the shadow fell away. All reflected in the cold water of Hoffman Pond.