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Posts Tagged ‘weather’

The woods awakened this morning under a deep cover of snow.  A fresh snowfall over the holidays is usually welcome, except that it’s Easter today, not Christmas.

The snow likely convinced the spring bulbs to wait a couple more days before blooming.  I thought for sure they’d be open by Easter morning.

mosquito on snow

Mosquito walking on snow

Of course we can always depend on the resilience of certain creatures to hang in there, regardless of the weather.  Above freezing temperatures are anticipated for the rest of the week so all of that snow will soon be history.  Unfortunately, the mosquitos are just getting started.

Happy Easter to all.

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dawn sunrise march 22 2012
This morning it looked like a hot summer sun was rising on the horizon.  The 25.7 degrees Celsius high yesterday in Halifax broke the previous record by 15 degrees!  (That’s a 59 degree Fahrenheit DIFFERENCE).  In 1979, temperatures here on March 21st reached 10 degrees Celsius.  The average for this time of year is 5 degrees Celsius.  Today’s forecast promises more of the same.

The elderberry trees in the backyard are already showing their buds which is unusual even for them.  They’re the first to flower in springtime.

elderberry leaf buds march 2012
It’s all very strange.  What will happen if we go back to average temperatures later this spring?  I wonder if wildlife is as confused as we are.

still water in cole harbour salt marsh

The waters in the salt marsh looked particularly still this morning.

It was fairly quiet except for the sounds of the songbirds near the woods.  The soft sea breeze was refreshing in the warm sunlight.  It likely won’t be as comfortable walking there later today in the full heat of the midday sun.   It might be a better idea to go to the beach :)

 

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dawn sunrise march 21 2012

It’s getting warmer.  And despite Canadians’ delight at enjoying higher temperatures than normal this week, some of us can’t help but wonder about the dark cloud that’s presently revealing this silver lining.  Regardless of what’s causing climate change, its progress seems a lot faster than anticipated only a few years ago.

red backed salamanders

Surely it’s the smaller creatures that will be affected the most by climate change.  We’ve had less precipitation than normal this winter.  If a long, dry summer is to follow, amphibians like the red-backed salamanders shown above will not find the moisture they need to stay healthy.  If spring vernal pools dry up too quickly, they and their kin will have difficulty finding a good moist place to lay their eggs.

spring fly

This past winter likely didn’t kill off as many insects as a colder winter would have.  Yesterday I saw numerous ants active in the flower beds, as well as this fly on the siding.  If there are so many more insects than usual in March, what will their numbers be like in mid-summer?  Will we be overrun by ants?  At least the baby birds will have lots to eat once they are born.

spring robins

These bright and perky robins were singing cheerfully in the woods this morning.  Were they checking out nesting options in the neighborhood or just passing through on their way farther north?  I wonder if they sense a change in the weather.  Like them, we should be out enjoying the blue skies while we have them.  It may feel like summer this week, but we’re bound to see snow again before long.

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Hey, what are you doing awake?  Aren’t you supposed to be hibernating?  

It was so warm that I decided to come out and see if it was spring yet. 

Weren’t you just out last month during a warm spell?

Yes, but this mating business is so important to us salamanders that I can’t let spring pass me by.  I have to check out every possibility.

Where do you usually spend your winters?

We yellow-spotted salamanders ideally hibernate about six inches underground.  However, I’ve just been buried beneath some leaves that are heaped on a concrete floor.  Maybe that’s why I keep waking up.  I need to find some deeper digs.

Once you really  know for sure that it’s spring, where will you go?

In very early spring, we salamanders return to pools of water to mate.  Females will lay up to a couple hundred eggs.  Temporary vernal pools created by melting snow and spring rains are our favorite places because they aren’t home to the predators found in more established watering holes.  We have to get there quickly so that the eggs have a chance to go through all the phases of growth before the pools dry up.

Good luck finding deeper digs.  Hope to see you again, but no sooner than  spring :)

Waking up throughout the winter takes up a lot of the precious energy I need for mating in the spring.  I’m going to find myself a spot where I won’t be disturbed.  See ya!

This yellow-spotted salamander was found wandering about  on January 1st.  It was previously seen on December 6th

 

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The object of a new year is not that we should have a new year, but that we should have a new soul.
~ G.K. Chesterton

In the blink of an eye, another year has come and gone.   The Earth is changing.  Could we be too?  Here in Cow Bay, we had our share of the extreme weather that made headline news across Canada in 2010.  Numerous storm surges caused flooding along the coast while high winds brought down tall trees. 

Still, there was much to be thankful for. 

A mild winter and very early spring made hearts light.  The warm summer that followed brought gorgeous blooms and amazing tree growth.  When fall’s leaves finally turned, many welcomed the cool, fresh air on the tails of a wicked September heat wave.  This winter has been very mild with little snowfall to date.  Surely cold and snow are lurking just beyond the corner of the new year.

Though we may not have any control over the weather, we do have control over our response to it.  As weather patterns continue to change in the year ahead, I wonder how we will respond both individually and collectively.  Will we become smarter planners like the ants, or more likely to sing in the sun while it’s shining like the grasshoppers?  Perhaps a little of both.

Natural phenomena and the effect of Nature on the spirit were frequent topics among my posts in 2010.  I especially enjoyed writing about Nature’s potential to teach, comfort and inspire:

A few posts even made it to the front page of WordPress in 2010. 

Deforestation, aggressive coyotes and our vulnerable coastline will continue to be concerns in the year ahead.  However,  regardless of what Nature has in store for us in 2011, we will always have much to be thankful for, including one another.  Happy new year and happy trails to all in 2011!

All are but parts of one stupendous whole, whose body Nature is, and God the soul.
~ Alexander Pope

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Nova Scotians are getting ready to welcome Hurricane Earl this morning as a tropical storm.  Hurricane Juan was far more damaging and deadly than was anticipated just hours before his visit in 2003.  It’s best to be prepared.   Even this little spider seems to have battened down the hatches…

The woods are quiet and the songbirds are nowhere to be seen.  Although it’s known that wild creatures seek safe shelters and extra food supplies in anticipation of hurricanes, scientists don’t yet know how they can sense impending stress to the natural environment.  Their ability may simply be the result of heightened sensory awareness through sight, hearing, smell and touch.

Along the shore, the surf is pounding the rocks relentlessly.  Waves are churning up seaweed from the depths.  There are likely some crabs and urchins tangled in the kelp.

Considering how quiet the woods are, I was surprised to see so many seagulls, sandpipers and cormorants hovering around the shore.  They’re probably looking for one last meal before the storm arrives.  Hopefully, they’ll all find safe shelter just in time.

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Whether experienced outdoors or seen through a window, fog’s softening effect brings a sense of cosiness to Nova Scotia in springtime.  Fog may be dense, accompanied by drizzle or thinning to a mist.  It may arrive in the morning and dissipate by noon, or still be seen rolling down the street in wafts of whiteness at midday.  

Foggy days with reduced visibility force us to look inward.  When the path that  lies ahead and the one that lies behind us are both blurred, it makes sense to rely on our intuition for direction.  

It also helps to listen carefully.  Fog consists of tiny water droplets, which allow sound to travel more quickly.  If we would slow down and listen to what is being whispered to us in the fog, we’d gain better insight into the path before us.

The fog is rolling over the hill
Winding twining rock and rill.
Softer and kinder than the light
Takes what’s sharp and wraps it white.

I will walk down by the foggy sea
Where the rocks are weeping silently.
That love that was once so bright and bold
Has turned itself to cold.

And so I love a foggy night
I walk and walk to my heart’s delight.
The fog’s cool kiss upon my face
All sorrow will erase.

The fog is rolling over the bay
It drifts my heart so far away.
Softer and kinder than the light
Takes what’s sharp and wraps it white.

~ Rose Vaughan, Song of the Fog

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After numerous days of torrential rains and relentless wind gusts, it’s refreshing to get a glimpse of blue in the sky.  Could winter’s fury finally be giving way to a calm resignation that its days are numbered?

Strong winds caused many tired and weakened trees to snap.  There seem to be even more diagonal lines in the forest. 

Rain water has gathered in the recesses beneath uprooted trees and in lower lying areas in the woods.  Known as vernal pools, these temporary wet areas not only provide animals with access to fresh drinking water, but also contribute to the biodiversity of the forest.  Amphibians thrive around these pools as do numerous varieties of mosses and grasses.  They will slowly dry up, but be filled again during subsequent rainstorms.

The rain melted all the snow, which is not at all good for snowshoe hares still wearing their winter white coats.  By contrasting more with the landscape, they become easier prey for foxes, coyotes and bobcats.  Hares will begin acquiring their brown coats later this month.  Until then, they’ll just have to keep a low profile and run a little bit faster if they want to survive until spring.

After every storm, the sun will smile;  for every problem there is a solution, and the soul’s indefeasible duty is to be of good cheer.
~ William Alger

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Red sky at night, sailors’ delight;
Red sky in morning, sailors take warning.

When there’s so much in the world that can’t be predicted, it’s comforting to witness a natural phenomenon that actually delivers on its promise. Not being a sailor, I didn’t realize it at the time, but Monday morning’s red sky warned of bad weather ahead.  And so it was. First there were ice pellets and later rain, and then on Tuesday morning, more rain and high winds. 

Supposedly, a red sunrise reflects the dust particles of a system that has just passed from the west. This indicates that a storm system may be moving to the east. If the morning sky is a deep fiery red, it means a high water content in the atmosphere. So, rain is on its way. [From Everyday Mysteries at The Library of Congress]

When I took these photographs, I was only thinking of how beautiful the blushing sky appeared behind the silhouettes of the trees.  It didn’t dawn on me that a storm was on its way.  I wonder what other ‘signs of the times’ are as potentially revealing to us as red dawns.  What else are we missing while distracted by what we are seeing on the surface of things?

…When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the heaven is red. And in the morning, It will be foul weather to-day: for the heaven is red and lowering. Ye know how to discern the face of the heaven; but ye cannot discern the signs of the times.
~ Jesus     Matt. 16:2-3

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This weekend Nova Scotia was bombed with its first storm of the decade.  Snow, rain, wind, high waves and power outages were all part of the mix. 

A covering of snow gave the woods a cozy look.  Somehow, looking at bare branches in January makes the cold seem even colder.  Unfortunately, temperatures are rising, so this snow might not be around for long.

These tracks were already dusted with snow when I saw them in the morning in a spot where I often see snowshoe hares.  

Low pressure systems often bring storm surges that can make for especially high tides.  They’re caused by winds pushing on the surface of the ocean, making the water higher than usual in some places.

The tide surge made the waters passing under Bald Eage Bridge in the salt marsh seem higher and more forceful than usual. 

Waves up to 8 metres in height were anticipated off the coast.  Radio announcers from Seaside FM were expecting surfers to be catching the waves around Cow Bay, just down from the moose. 

In the marsh and in the woods all was quiet.  At least wildlife has the sense to lay low during storms, find a nice cozy spot to hunker down in and conserve energy until the worst is past.

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Most branches are already bare of the snow that fell early Sunday, but there’s no doubt about it.  There’s a bite of cold in the air that wasn’t present last week, and the waves of snow on the lawn confirm the inevitable.  Winter is here. 

This snow is crunchy this morning.  Underfoot, this isn’t a sound that’s experienced until after winter has set its claws into the landscape.  Ice has bonded the snow to the leaves and grass lying beneath it. Its hard surface is of the variety that makes it difficult to track the movements of small animals. 

Resting on the surface of these ripples of icy snow is a dusting of tiny bright white snow pellets.  This isn’t the type of snow that children delight in playing with.  It’s simply a tease to them and a promise of bigger snowfalls yet to come.  For adults, it’s an indicator that spring is closer than it was last week.

O Wind, if Winter comes… can Spring be far behind?

~Percy Bysshe Shelley

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TheQuarrelOfOberonandTitania

The Quarrel of Oberon and Titania (1846) by Sir Joseph Noel Patton

The faeiries must have been quarreling last night.  Though it was Midsummer’s Eve, it was rainy and windy.  Inclement weather is a sign that arguments are taking place in the realm of faerie folk.  In ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ the king and queen of the faeries have an argument that affects the elements: 

Therefore the winds, piping to us in vain,
As in revenge, have suck’d up from the sea
Contagious fogs; which falling in the land
Have every pelting river made so proud
That they have overborne their continents

from ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ by William Shakespeare

path into the woodsI’d been tentatively planning to sit outside on this night, under an Elder tree in the hope of seeing the King of the Faeries.  Midsummer’s Eve is the only night of the year when this is supposedly possible. 

Yesterday afternoon I set up a solar generated light next to my chosen Elder tree so that I could easily spot it in the dark.  The tiny light , which is in the shape of a hummingbird, changes its color from blue to purple to red to green.  It looks enchanting in the night landscape throughout the seasons.

I set out into the woods at 10:30pm to get a sense of whether or not the faeries might be out.  By then, the trail was already soaked and every green thing was covered with water. 

It was the last night of the old moon, so it was very dark in the woods.  Even if it hadn’t been overcast and raining, it still would have been the darkest of nights. 

At least the mosquitoes weren’t bad.  They can’t fly around in heavy rain.  But neither can the faeries, I soon realized.  I’d have to wait until next year at least to catch a glimpse of the King of the Faeries.

Before heading back inside, I took a couple of photographs.  The flash from my camera lit up the surrounding trees.  There are many Mountain Ash trees in this area.  These are akin to Rowan, which are magical in their own right. 

elder at night

I’m sure many of you don’t believe in faeries anymore.  Perhaps it’s time to reconsider and ask ‘why not?’  A belief in faeries does put a sparkle on the day, and just as with the wild creatures in the woods, just because you haven’t seen them yet, doesn’t mean they aren’t there.

If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales.  If you want them to be geniuses, read them more fairy tales.

When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing positive knowledge.

~ Albert Einstein

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