It is fitting to end February’s fury, that began on Groundhog Day, with this, my last Winter post *… yes, I’m so done with this wicked month, if not the entire Winter season. I’m sure many of you agree.
On February 1st, I went to the Park on a beautiful, sunny 35F (1.6C) morning. I left extra food and warned my pals we were in for a Winter wallop. I told them “don’t look for me for a week and don’t worry, I’ll be back. Watch out for the hawks; stay up in your nests.” Walking home I wondered aloud if I should have left a trail of breadcrumbs to help my Park pals find my house.
Then came the siege of icy and snowy weather.
As if the Groundhog Day snowstorm, (dubbed “Winter Storm Landon” by the Weather Channel), wasn’t enough, we’ve had a parade of Arctic Blasts, wintry-mix Alberta Clippers and high winds ever since.
Winter Storm Landon affected 90 million people. We actually lucked out with Landon. Even though it was originally termed “Snowapalozza” or “Snowmaggedon” those totals were tamped down a little after the warm temps hung on a bit longer than expected. We still had the freezing drizzle, then snizzle (a snow/rain wintry mix) before the snow had its turn at the podium. That two-day event yielded nearly a foot of ice-laden snow.
As you know by now, Pugsatawney Phil saw his shadow which meant six more weeks of Winter – ugh. Phil’s handler made that proclamation. Michigan’s Winter Weather Prognosticator, a/k/a “Woody” was given a reprieve, a “snow day” they said, because of the snowstorm.
But, when she emerged on Saturday, February 5th, surrounded by her fans and local news stations, our Woody had the same dire prediction, just not with such eloquent words; she simply took a look around and scurried back into her house.
Woody is a female and her predictions have been more accurate than Phil. They were both correct this year.
Walking, what little I’ve done, has not been fun. Every trek in February began with a few uneasy steps. I likened each journey to a person getting their “sea legs” i.e. their ability to achieve a level of comfort to be able to walk on a boat without worries of going overboard. When picking my way around ice, whenever possible, I do a little step, step, tap … the tap being a toe tap on the cement to ensure it’s not icy. An onlooker might see me and wonder if I’m squishing a bug.
On February 18th, while hefting shovelfuls of the ice-laden half-foot of snow, I barely gave a passing glance to the sun glinting on the ice-coated tree branches creating exquisite prisms, something I’d normally admire. No, I didn’t race into the house to grab the camera like I did for the first snowstorm of the new year on January 1st … nope, I said “ice, nice … whatever” and went back to huffing, puffing and hefting the heavy snow.
But, back to February – do we blame the fractious weather on Mother Nature’s mood swings?
Perhaps these Winter personalities should bear the brunt of our collective weather displeasure:
The weather folks consistently got their snowfall predictions wrong and finally just proclaimed “several inches of snow will fall” as opposed to giving a definitive amount. One meteorologist used the term “Weather Whiplash” because when it wasn’t icy and dicey, we’d have one day when temps would soar, ice would melt and the next day, refreeze and falling temps made it treacherous to step out of the house.
Thus, this meme was making the rounds on local social media sites.
Every meteorologist or weather site here in SE Michigan has their own unique description of the Winter weather.
I’m left scratching my head over this below distinction between “quite cold” and “very cold” – shouldn’t it be the opposite of what they put for the “real feel” category? For goodness sake, just say brrr!
Believe me, I am NOT the only one with Winter woes and an attitude.
Let’s have a look at some others, okay?
Even the snowman lost his mojo, toppled over and was down for the count. Talk about someone needing an attitude adjustment – sheesh!
People in our City complained about the two, separate, multiple-day snow emergency events instituted to get vehicles off the road for plowing purposes, or risk being towed, plus ticketed ($65.00) for not doing so. The emergency sirens screeched that warning at 6:00 a.m. every day the snow emergency was in effect as a not-so-subtle reminder. That screaming siren did not go over very well!
Even the sweet Council Point Park critters aired their grievances, like here at the pavilion area.
I arrived one morning to see a squirrel, standing partly in the snow and one front paw placed on the picnic table seat, his snow-covered face wearing an almost–defiant look.
I know the squirrels and birds steered clear of this picnic table for fear they would be impaled by one of these icy daggers.
It was okay with them, of course, if I walked under an icy dagger hanging from the roof while doling out treats … just sayin’.
Throughout February I’ve been a fair-weather friend to my Park pals. I suspect they’d give me an “F” for failing to show up on a regular basis, but icy sidewalks, snow-slickened roads, brutal cold and very high winds kept me away. Plus, sometimes I arrived to find the Park path snowy and not plowed or salted. Truly, it hurts my heart to disappoint them, but I was not about to take a nasty tumble necessitating a trip to the E.R. during a pandemic, but I fretted daily about my furry and feathered friends.
Each time I returned to the Park, I suspect my absence was forgiven as they came over to greet me. I imagine a thought bubble over a squirrel’s head the likes of “nice to finally grace us with your presence – we’re starving!” Or how about “Linda, be honest – are you seeing other squirrels?”
Wrangling walnuts: in a nutshell, Parker was a brat!
Even Parker, my always-amiable Park pal was disgruntled with the snow and seemingly with me.
As a youngster, I was always told to be happy with what I had and never ask for more. Perhaps I should impart that wisdom onto Parker. That little rascal got “hangry” with me and no, I didn’t hand him a Snickers bar to make him behave!
I never thought I’d say this, but since he is out of earshot and doesn’t follow my blog … “Parker was a brat!”
On this particular February morn, I might have even give myself a new moniker of “Linda the Juggler” as I was on foot and packing peanuts, sunflower seeds, two dishes of suet, a 1/2 bag of walnuts and a 1/2 bag of hazelnuts. With a wintry mix once again on the horizon, I knew walking would not fit into the immediate weather equation.
I arrived at the Park and began making the rounds to the three spots where I tender treats. Suddenly it began to flurry – hard. “Well that would curtail taking any pictures” I thought.
I received a warm welcome at the Safe Haven Tree that day – a Jay shrieking to herald my arrival and squirrels jockeying in position for treats. I had only one more “drop-off spot” on the other side of the Park, so I had reserved peanuts and sunflower seeds for that spot and I held onto a half-dozen walnuts in case I saw Parker.
Parker appeared, as if on cue, alone and with pleading eyes and parked himself at the side of the path. Having seen a hawk within the last week, I was wary of leaving the walnuts on the path, thus exposing him to a hawk. Also, I wanted to get home before it got too snowy and slick, so I steered my furry friend toward one of the small memorial trees. I laid out four walnuts on the snowy ground beneath the tree. He scurried over, took one walnut and sat next to the tree to nosh on it.
Then he returned for another walnut, and ran up the tree with it …
… then tucked it into a little space in the tree for safekeeping.
Here, let me hone in on this treasure.
He then zoomed back down the trunk and went for another walnut. I figured he’d eat it on the spot, but no, he looked around, then buried it.
I waited patiently and told Parker “okay, I’m going under this tree to keep the camera from getting wet – c’mon and eat your walnuts so Linda can take some more photos of you.”
Yes, I got a few pictures. Then he did something peculiar, even for Parker. He went up into the tree and chattered at me, all the while swishing that bushy tail back and forth. I asked him what his problem was.
There I was handing off what I figured were the crème de la crème of squirrel treats and he was complaining. Obviously my words did not fizz on him, because the weirdness continued as he hurried, headfirst, down the tree trunk and over to the toe of my hiking boots. I swiveled around to get a photo of that, but he started not only tugging on my sweatpants, but scaling up my leg. Then I felt a tug pulling the plastic bag with the peanuts and seeds downward. No pics on any of these activities, so you will have to trust me on that. I had slipped the handle of the bag on my arm so it was out of the way to take pictures. I assume he could smell the peanuts. So, was he going for the peanuts as I hadn’t put any out for him? It sure looked like it. I stepped back and gestured with my hand that this was a “no-no” and the peanuts and sunflower seeds were for the squirrels and birds at the next stop.
He got an attitude and went up the tree and walked to the end of the branch and chattered at me again.
I then began to wonder if it was a Parker imposter. He looked like he was about to spring onto me to get to the bag, I stepped back and said “stop that now!” I went to leave and he jumped down and circled around me once again. I left the rest of the walnuts and said “I’m outta here” when I saw another Fox squirrel out of the corner of my eye – the two clashed, tussling in the snow. I got out of there as his attitude was unnerving me a little.
Happily I made it home without being caught in a snow squall, which happened to me on Christmas Day one year when I lingered too long, a squall erupted and that mile-long walk home was treacherous.
To help me “think Spring” I’ve booked two virtual 5Ks for 2022, “Happy Soles” for Fish & Loaves Food Pantry at Heritage Park and “Run for the Trees” to benefit Michigan’s reforestation efforts via a seed re-planting program by prisoners. That DNR-sponsored event is at a site of your choosing. Tomorrow is March 1st – a new month which hopefully is better than February was.
* Alas, this is not my last Winter post. I wrote this post Saturday afternoon. Yesterday I had good intentions to go to the Park, walk a lot, feed my Park critters, then come home and work on compiling the tax paperwork. I looked outside – Mr. Sun was shining brightly, no ice or snow, a tad cold, even windy, but all my good intentions came to a halt. Instead, I enjoyed four hours walking and taking photos in two parks, BUT … those upcoming posts will be crowing about a February day, not whining about it. 🙂