Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Frosty Morning

Cold and clear; thermometer read zero degrees when I set seeds out for the birds first thing this morning. The gray squirrels were up on the railing eating before I could even get back inside the door. Their coats are elegantly fluffed as though they had just come out of fur storage and were freshly brushed and cleaned, just the thing to wear to keep out the cold. The squirrel reaches out to pick-up a sunflower seed between his teeth and then transfers the seed to his paws. Peeling away the hull, he nibbles the seed and looks at me, assuming the pose that is so loved by artists and photographers, saying, “am I not cute?”. Stretching out for another seed, the process begins again, devouring a seemingly endless procession of seeds until dusk begins to fall.

Watching the light in the yard, I was itching to get out and take some more photos. I especially wanted to go back along Plank Road to see if I could find some eagles close enough to snap a picture. We bundled up and I thought to myself, “it really isn’t so very cold in our warm down jackets. This will be a great trip and I will get some wonderful photos in the brilliant winter light. The roads have been plowed and most of them are clear and dry so it was easy going until we reached Rio Dam. As we began taking our pictures, the wind danced circles around us nipping our noses, ears and fingers. The lake sparkles, the ice reflecting the sun’s rays as well as the darker colors of the hillsides. My down jacket no longer feels warm. The cold seeps through my leather gloves. I am eager to get back into the sheltered warmth of the car.

The ice-laden wind brings the fresh smell of pine and of wood smoke blowing up river from a cabin tucked under the evergreens. I have frequently admired that cabin as we pass but today I would rather have a cottage in a clearing where I can treasure and soak up every warm ray from the sun. We search the trees along the riverbank for eagles. The many small white clumps of snow still clinging to the hemlocks and pines get our full attention but not a bald eagle to be seen Chickadees call to us from a berry thicket; two male cardinals, “chipping” steadily from their retreat among hemlocks near the river display a splash of crimson against the snow laden dark green trees. Their calls blend with the winds, the icy clatter of water cascading over stones and the cheerful murmur from the calmer currents of the river to bring us a winter symphony.

To the north, up-river from the viewing station, we finally spot our eagles for the day. One magnificent mature Bald Eagle soaking up the sun and in tall snags further up the river, one snag for each, perch two immature eagles.

We finish our loop returning to the house. How wonderful and warm it feels!

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