The Winter That Isn’t

Snowless December Mountains

Is this the winter that never will be? Last night at bedtime it was 53ºF/12ºC. Usually by December we are longing for Spring when the temperatures get into the 40s and the first day above 50 in February or March is a day to celebrate.

I heard a frog singing the other day after a day of rain. The days are getting longer now and Spring is around the corner. This may be the year winter never arrives.

Swans on potato field

Along Chuckanut Drive just north of Allen hundreds and hundreds of swans are feeding on a potato field. They have been there for several weeks. Are they eating potatoes left behind? They are finding plenty to eat in the muddy field.

Swans on potato field.

Some swans prefer pastures and grassy fields. Some love the muddy fields. Do they go back and forth from green to mud and back? Or are some swans mud lovers and others grass lovers? When young swans date, do the ones raised on mud find the ones raised on grass interesting? Do they compare notes about their very different upbringing?

Flight AeroLogic 3S512

With the pandemic past, jets streak across the skies. This is flight AeroLogic 3S512 from Hong Kong flying overhead to Cincinnati. Did any passengers sitting on the right side of the plane look down and see me?

I often wonder why Airlines think they have the right to mar a beautiful blue sky. For every white gash they make on a blue sky, shouldn’t they have to pay everyone who lives below that gash some compensation? Let’s call it a Blue Sky Deprivation Fee. Say $50 if you live within an angle of 20% of the contrail, $25 for those within a 45% angle of the contrail, and $10 to those further out? It would make living underneath a flight path worthwhile.

Overhead satellites could capture these contrails, match them up to the airline causing them, forwarding compensation automatically to those living underneath those contrails. Airlines would adjust their schedules and only fly on cloudy days to avoid these fees. Or charge extra fees to passengers when skies are blue. Life would be more interesting.

Or the fees could be paid out only to those who complain, the ones who take a snapshot of the contrail and press a button to collect the fee. That would make life entertaining. Every time a jet flew overhead leaving a contrail, thousands of people would rush outdoors to snap pictures of the contrail to collect the fee. And soon there would be apps that would do that automatically for you. Just leave your phone pointed up at the sky and every time a new contrail appeared, the app would take a picture and click the “Collect Blue Sky Deprivation Fee” button for you.

Morning Fire

Morning sky on fire

Four days ago the morning sky was on fire. The clouds were so orange it looked like the world was ablaze.

Morning clouds bright orange

Ominous, wondrous, glad to have seen it, a momentary wonder made possible by the earth spinning round and round. A few minutes later the show was gone. But clouds never tire of putting on a show. One day it is fire and brimstone, one day it is a puffy face dancing across the sky.

Cloud shaped like a face.

Do you see the nose, the mouth, the chin, even the eye looking back at you? Where is this cloud face going? What on earth is it looking at? What is on the tip of its tongue? Is it laughing?

Swans feeding in a field

This last week, hundreds of swans have been on the fields along Chuckanut Drive. They do like the muddy fields. But they somehow keep the mud off their feathers. Though I have yet to see them roll around in the mud the way our dogs love doing. It’s probably why they have black feet. White feet would be too difficult to keep clean.

But what are the swans eating in this potato field? Are they digging up potatoes not harvested? Worms? Bugs?

Winter blooming cherry

The winter blooming cherry has a few flowers. There is a sadness to cherry blossoms blooming in winter. No bee will ever visit them and tickle them.

2023 is almost over. In less than a week the days will start to get longer. Here the solstice will happen on Thursday, December 21, 2023 at 7:27 pm PST. I can’t wrap my head around the fact that the solstice is a point in time, an instant, 7:27 pm precisely. Though a minute does not sound precise enough. What is it to the thousandth of a second? A millionth of a second? It doesn’t look like scientists bother to do that. But to satisfy a mad man living in Bow, couldn’t someone calculate the instant of the winter solstice 2023 in the northern hemisphere to at least 30 decimal points? I could live with that. That would satisfy my curiosity. A minute seems too vague and not precise enough for these modern times. I mean hold your breath for a whole minute. It’s a long, long time. A lot can happen in a minute.

The chickens have better things to worry about than the precise timing of the winter solstice. I’d never seen one enter the little dog house until one did. Maybe I should fill it with straw and see if they lay eggs in it.