Tag Archives: cold

The sub-nivean zone

Hi all! Happy New Year! I wish everyone joy, peace, and health in the upcoming year.

 

And now, to start things off with a bang, check out my most recent Earth Matters column in the Hampshire Gazette (Jan 2, 2016). It’s about life under the snow:

 

http://www.gazettenet.com/news/townbytown/amherst/20162762-95/earth-matters-the-sub-nivean-zone-life-under-the-snow

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The Pond in Winter

Wow, what a warm winter it’s been! Although today is predicted for a high of 37 (F), as those of you who live in this area know, the temperature has been in the 50s for weeks – very warm for December in New England. Christmas is nearly upon us, but the lack of seasonally-appropriate weather seems to have robbed almost everyone I know of a sense of “Christmas spirit”. (At least, amongst those who celebrate Christmas.)

On the up side, the warmer weather means I have gotten to go outdoors at lunchtime and take photographs! I am by no means a professional photographer, but I’ve been experimenting with a loaner camera.  Not surprisingly, wildlife photos are proving to be very difficult (the lag time causes me to “lose” the subject, and focus can be a challenge), but here are some early efforts.

 

Mallard 121315
Male Mallard 12/14/15
Canada Goose 201415
Canada Goose 12/14/15
Black Ducks 121615
American Black Ducks 12/14/15

We also had this unexpected visitor: a red-necked grebe in winter plumage. It is unusual to see this bird on such a small body of water. It was a bit shy and stayed in the middle of the pond.

121415 red-necked grebe Umass Amherst pond copy
Red-necked Grebe 12/14/15

Photos aside, this warmer weather does not signify anything good about the condition of our planet. Here’s to colder temperatures in the days to come!

Frigid morning

Woke up to a frigid morning. NOAA reported the temperature at -1 degrees (F) at 8:30 am, though my partner reported -4 in his car. Bad time to have run out of wood, though the oil is doing a surprisingly good job of fighting the bitter cold that presses against the walls and oozes though the windows. This house, though originally built in the 1840s, is much better insulated than our prior house, a 1790s drafty bucket with almost no insulation beyond some lovely double-paned windows. At almost 3K square feet, mostly closed off and unheated during the winter, we nonetheless went through 6-7 cords of wood a year. Yes, this new house is definitely an improvement.

A kind but strange neighbor generously donated a cord of wood to us not long after our arrival here this summer, but then spent several subsequent days staring longingly down our driveway. For a week or two, it seemed that he took daily walks by our house, hovering near the edge of the property like a hungry sparrow. I’m not sure he wanted the wood back so much as conversational opportunities, but his behavior was so odd that I took to staying in the house every time he came around, and finally he gave up. I felt a little guilty, but do not plan to be held hostage by anyone’s generosity, whatever the motivation. I hope he has found some friends.

Anyway, yes, it is frigid this morning. En route to collect the last, skinny maple logs, I found a number of tracks in the snow. What do you think they are? (The first 5 photos are all the same animal.)

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