Sitting at my den window last night, I watched yet another layer of flakes whitewash the already existing mounds of snow deposited by three previous snowstorms that blanketed our area over the past four weeks. Dubbed "February Fury" by The Weather Channel, this latest chapter in the ongoing saga of "And You Still Don't Believe Global Warming?" began dropping its fat, wet flakes shortly before midnight the night before. After several starts and stops, the ultimate flake tally two days later would be upward of another ten or so inches.
Earlier that morning I had hurried outside just after my husband left for work around 5:15am and before the snow became too heavy. I knew at least one of the feeders was empty and three of the suet holders were either totally barren or contained pathetic dregs of lard-encrusted corn, seed and peanut pieces. After filling the feeders and attempting (operative word there being "attempting") to shovel some of the heavy, wet snow from around a few of the various feeding stations I'd set up throughout the front and back gardens, I precariously managed to fend my way around already existing piles of frozen snow that outlined the greenhouse so I could stretch up with my broom and knock off the four or so inches of freshly-fallen wet snow which threatened to collapse at least one side of the structure. After the first brutal nor'easter in January knocked down one of the internal struts, one side has been under constant "supportive vigilance" in the hopes of preventing the greenhouse's all-out-collapse on that compromised side. We'd zipped the already taut poly weave constructed greenhouse tightly closed before December. As the winter progressed, bringing colder and colder temperatures that threatened any remaining elasticity in that material, we became increasingly reluctant to try and unzip the thing in order to reattach the support for fear we wouldn't be able to zip and close the structure again. So until a good spring thaw, we just assumed a constant greenhouse-snow watch and stood ready with a very long-handled broom.
Forewarned being sometimes forearmed, I made a dash to the farm supply store the day before when the weather predictions seemed immanent. The frenetic pre-blizzard antics of my feathered and furry friends alerted me to stock up on seed, corn and of course their favorite: shelled, halved peanuts. Unfortunately, I was down to my last four suet cakes, and was unable to get to my usual haunt that tocks them in bulk and at much lower cost than the Big Box stores. Besides, I fear that when I can get there early next week, they may already have cleared their shelves of suet and other winter stores in preparation for spring surplus. Try explaining seasonal inventory control to claw and paw-tapping impatient, hungry critters! It's not business with them...it's personal.
I thought the two 24-cake boxes I'd purchased before Christmas would at least carry me through till the really frigid and snowy weather subsided. I think this is another case where I should have heeded the weather prognostications of Punxatawney Phil and the extra thick coat and fluffier-than-usual tails of my resident squirrels rather than the slick t.v. weathercasters. Nature is always a better indicator of future climatic conditions. Just ask any organic gardener.
The snow tapered off a bit when I began this, but has picked up once again now along with freight-train-roaring winds. This is when the beauty of the silent snow fall not only elevates in decibel levels but increases the intensity of my worry for the resident critters. While they can usually ferret out protective quarters in even white-out snowstorms, the frigid, 50-mile-an-hour winds are decidedly more daunting and threatening to their safety. I knew that the next day would find me on garden reconnaissance in what I hope will be an unfruitful search for any casualties of the storm. The thought of leaving anything that once graced and shared my gardens to lie lifeless and forgotten on drifting snowbanks is unacceptable to me. If my garden's flora are dignified with a protective covering of soil, albeit frozen, then I owe that same reverence and care to its fauna.
The phone rang as darkness turned my window's clear view to a blackened mirrored glass. It was my husband reassuring me that his commute home was thus far uneventful and he'd most likely be home safe and at his usual time. I'm always calmed when he calls on nights like this. He knows I worry.
I hope the critters have a safe haven tonight as well.