Friday, March 20, 2009

The Uncomely In-between

Happy Vernal Equinox!

In some regions of the western hemisphere, the beautiful blush of spring is well underway. Here at Ravenseyrie we are yet in-between winter and spring,---which is, frankly, a rather uncomely time. The slow retreat of the snow reveals a landscape covered in semi-frozen manure, dissipated dead plant matter and the un-cached bones once carefully hidden away by the dogs. I've many times referred to our yard looking much more like an abandoned Viking encampment than the habitat of a tree-hugging vegan couple.

We've been graced with a lot of sunshine and sometimes even with temperatures above freezing. The open grasslands are now well exposed (or under water and ice), but at the edges and within the forest proper remains a depth of snow that yet measures above boot tops.

The horses and mules were actually friskier during the deep freeze of winter! Now their footing is too precarious for much reckless cavorting about, and anyhow, it feels so good to spend the day dozing and soaking up the sun or simply shuffling about in a mini-torpor, leaving behind piles of hay to pick at microscopic emerging grass shoots, heaving long equine sighs and dreaming of the full arrival of spring.

There has been no shedding of hair yet, which is good, because this morning the thermometer read just 10°F for the first calendar day of spring. Everything was frozen solid and frosty at dawn. But now, we are above freezing with the steady pulsing of the March sun working magic over the landscape once again.

I have a few videos embedded with today's journal entry; one taken this morning, the other two taken several days ago. Let's look at today's footage first (after an introduction to what we'll be viewing):

I had noticed while out walking that occasionally one or two of the horses would leave their breakfast hay and wander over to the edge of the seasonal run off, where just the day before a good fresh drink could be had. It seemed to me that even though the ice I was walking on was frozen solid, and the spot where the horses were traveling to was equally firm, yet they each appeared to be taming their thirsts just the same.

Altamiro is leaving the ice hole, while Bella is now taking her drink. Below, a close up of her drinking from the ice hole. I made a wide half circle so that on the return of my walk I could investigate this spot the horses appeared to be drinking from. I found several areas where the foot prints from the horses passage during the melt had left big holes in the ice that were now frozen over, but not so thickly that I couldn't vigorously poke through to the water below with my walking stick. I scanned the snow-packed-ice until I saw slight hoof print impressions near the hole that Bella and Altamiro had been drinking from earlier. It was my good fortune that as I was appreciating the marvel of this drinking hole, Animado came along to have a drink too. I snapped a few photos and then recorded some video footage of him drinking:

This makes me so happy to see the horses getting fresh water like this, and the small opening reminds me of the little stainless steel troughs of the automatic waterers installed in some barns with water always at the ready.

When the temperature is above freezing, during this uncomely in-between time at Ravenseyrie, the horses can pretty much get water any where they want. Zeus has just slacked his thirst in this photo and seems to be contemplating the change of seasons while he stands on a bit of high ground:

Part of the landscape looked incredibly odd a few days ago as the water below the ice would seem to swell up and freeze glacier like:
While it was still quite frozen, Maeb seemed to take even more pleasure than normal in playing with her red ball (which is actually a horse ball, but Maeb made herself owner of it, exclusively. I have one photo and then some video footage. I would be surprised that you don't find yourself grinning and laughing after viewing these images!

The snow-pack from the yard and by the fence where the horses eat their morning oats has begun to thaw, and Kevin has painstakingly chipped out little canals encouraging the water to flow away from the sheds. This particular canal, however, is one that nature formed on her own and it was flowing like a river the other day.

For the past two years we've had a pair of Canada Geese that spend the spring with us. They have returned again this year (one week earlier than last year), and I can get some nicer photos now that I have a better camera.
A lone Redwing Blackbird made an appearance on the same day the Canada Geese returned. I heard his distinct voice, saw him in the apple tree and took a photo. I love this camera!:

Our domestic geese haven't been able yet to make their way down to the seasonal lake in the grassland area, so they make the best of things in the puddles in our yard. They are very much aware that the "fair-weather" Canada Geese have returned and they seem to project an air of haughtiness and ownership of the area--after all they have stuck it out here for the entire winter, unlike the wimpy wild geese who left for warmer locales when things got tough.
Uncomely as parts of the landscape are in this "in-between" time, there are yet some truly beautiful scenes, and so much promise of renewal, one has to embrace the uglier elements, for they serve as a bridge between winter and spring, and I for one, am ready to walk across it!

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