Sure, it looks like winter. A bit of shelter for mammals and birds, a few seeds to keep them alive through hard times, and brrrrr.
These are the vitamin and steroid sources under the canopy of grass that will enable quail and rodents to reproduce in the spring. Spring is too late for such important work to begin. That’s winter work. Unfortunately…
…nibbling on green shoots of cheatgrass will not lead to reproduction. So, look again:
The gopher that makes the mound creates the quail chicks of springtime. The timing is important, to avoid the mounds being seeded by grasses instead. And so above-ground and below-ground worlds meet.
The unrelieved heat and dryness of the summer has led to the outcome predicted by those of us who have lived in this valley for a couple generations of memory, or more. Here is my filbert, ten years old, learning it.
A hot dry summer is not about heat, but about timing. When spring is 3 weeks early and the land goes through Autumn in mid-July, 3 weeks early as well, then winter will come hard and fast, bringing the missing water, and also 3 weeks early. It can bring prolonged drought as well, but usually when the cycle is shifted the other way: late frost in the spring, monsoons in July instead of June, and then the summer’s drought through the winter. Right now, though, catkins in the ice.
I was in the south of the valley yesterday, and looked north. The wind was eating off the tops of snow clouds, and rolling them over themselves. That’s not weather that is passing by but weather that is opening out of the pressure of the air. “Weather’s coming,” I said. “CBC reported flurries,” I was told. But I already knew. Am I predicting the arrival of spring? No way. It’s too early for that, but the day will come that I will know what I have already known because I have already experienced it, and it will find voice. This is what it’s like to be home.
What is pale and drawn out by light and cold is not dead. The life is within, or, rather, it is concentrated, or distilled.
When you walk through the cold, every twig is power. If you grasp them, you can feel their line down to the roots, bound by ice to all of the earth and through ice to sky and stars. Now that you have found their power, come back in the light and find its concentration.
Welcome to the poetry of the earth, and the open secrets of red osier dogwood, medicine for body and soul.
So, the chickadees come and eat the weed seeds. This is part of the ecology of the new grasslands. It’s like moving to Mars, except Mars comes to you. Still, tasty, and a mixed menu, too.
And something scares you, like Harold coming with his camera, let’s say, so you leap to the mustard, and, yeah, you might only weigh in at a few grams, but it’s enough to get that tall timber swaying like a ship in storm off of Cape Horn.
The stalk records your weight in the snow. Look at how the recording is about the size and shape of a chickadee. Judging by the irregular shape of the hole, I’d say that some chickadee friends played second fiddle on this one.
Maybe they should leave the north and go home. I feel so sorry for them. They have to endure this:
It must be very hard. I know, for my part, it would be hard, very hard, to endure a winter that was not at 20 Below Celsius, at least one night. And in this January moon we had a week. Oh, glory!
But, seriously, I have to listen to these complaints on the national broadcasting system of the country that I was born to and must pay allegiance to, to live here? Really? That’s shameful. Well, time to go for a walk and forgive.
I am, after all, on this earth, to learn humility. Sometimes it’s easy.