Vernal Equinox

Friday was the first day of spring, though with snow on the ground and new snow falling, it looked more like winter. Not even snowdrops, the first of the bulbs to poke through the ground here, are up yet, but the birds are singing their glorious songs of spring and every day the sun shines a bit longer.

I noticed that we didn’t have exactly twelve hours each of day and night on Friday; day was slightly longer. It turns out that that’s because sunrise is counted as the time the top of the sun’s disc first appears on the horizon, whereas sunset is when the trailing edge of the sun disappears below the horizon. That makes “day” slightly longer. In addition, the earth’s atmosphere causes refraction of light, which makes the sun visible to us before it actually rises and for a short time after it actually sets. Here’s a link I found that explained all that clearly and simply:
Equinox: equal day and night, but not quite


Birds and Dogs in the Snow

I know, snow is not a newsy worthy event by now, with the many snowstorms we’ve been having this winter, but I am still loving it. Today the snow is falling with large, lazy flakes, making for a muted, serene landscape. The view may be quiet and peaceful looking, but the birds are full of vim and vigor. Twenty or more Goldfinches vie for the best spots at our feeders, chasing off larger birds and getting in repeated airborne spats with one another. Our local bully, a large, confident Mourning Dove is back, claiming a one yard length of the deck railing. Whenever another bird ventures onto “his” section of railing, the Bully fluffs up to almost twice his normal size and rushes at the other bird, which hurriedly leaves. The Cardinals started their spring songs this past week, and the Titmice have been filling the air with their clarion notes for a while, so even though it looks like winter, it’s starting to sound like spring.
 Stephen and I have shoveled pathways through the snow– our “Cat in the Hat” paths, which encircle our yard, so that I can walk and the dogs run around. Petra is usually dashing full tilt ahead of me, careening off the paths to leap up trees or just plow with delight through the deep snow, while Milo trots steadily behind me, around and around and around, wagging his tail the whole time. Rowan spends much of his time “grazing” on bird seed that has spilled beneath the feeders, but he comes running any time he thinks I’m going to throw snowballs. Both Aussies loves to leap at the snow I toss aside when shoveling, and there’s been plenty of that to amuse them, and even Milo gets in on the shoveling fun sometimes.

Fun in the Snow!

One of the things I love about my dogs is the way they make me smile and laugh and play. I know I could play in the snow without them, but I doubt I would as much, and I know I wouldn’t laugh as much as I do with them. We had 12 inches of snow last night, which was perfect for snow fun today.

Nothing like a good roll in the snow

Petra bursting out of the snow
Milo, the rate prick-eared Beagle

PJ bursting forth
My handsome Rowan

Leaping for snowballs!
Biting snowballs!

Cool shadow
What’s under the snow?

Petra! How did you get up so high?
Let me try…
Watch me, Rowan!. Look how high I can jump!
Now jump with me…
There you go! Nice height, Rowan!
That was fun!
Watch me run!
I’ll run with you, PJ…
Thank you for the fun!

Alaska — Travel Day

What a amazing world! Yesterday we flew from New York to Alaska, via Dallas, Texas. I had a book I was reading on my kindle, but I also enjoyed watching the checkerboard of midwestern and western farms and ranches passing below. In some areas the fields are all planted in circles– clearly due to irrigation systems. Then in some areas they were all in squares and rectangles. No need for irrigation there? or a different kind of irrigation system? I’ll have to look that up…
Watercolor of the view out my window

Then we started to cross over the Rocky Mountains, and I read less of my book and did more watching out the window. Why were the mountains more covered with snow on on side? Why were some areas dry and brown while others were richly green? I want to read more about the intersection of geography, weather, and climate.

And then, finally, we were over Northwest Canada and ALASKA. I have never seen such mountains — jagged, huge, increasingly covered with snow as we traveled northward, brilliant in the sun, seemingly endless in all directions. I saw my first glaciers and marveled at the flow lines so clearly visible from above.  We passed over avalanches (not happening, but the obvious patterns left by them), and myriad mountains just barely peeking out above snow-filled valleys, then broad valleys of deep green with rivers winding through them, followed by more snow-covered mountains.

Alaskan mountains from airplane window

Avalanche at left center

In a couple of the valleys we passed over small towns, isolated by distance, geography, and weather. What must it be like to live so far from the society as I know it? There was no sign of people throughout most of the vastness of the mountains— just rugged landscape, mountains in every direction, and more snow than I have ever seen. My kindle forgotten, I spent the last hours of our flight engrossed in the book of God’s creation, brought to tears and filled with awe by such wonder and beauty as I have never seen before.