I went to the woods today hoping to see bluebirds and flickers. I was expecting a quiet day on a little trail through a small nature preserve with a fellow birder to discuss management issues--where to place a trail, what to do now that all the bush honeysuckle has been removed? (Kill deer, burn, in that order) Rather than a peaceful afternoon on the trail with the long winter shadows, clear skies, and bird activity, we met other hikers--kids in shorts, a couple with binoculars, families, elderly, young, lots of others. (I didn't know anyone even knew this place existed, frankly.) It was an active day on the trail --lots of great bird activity from bluebirds, sparrows, woodpeckers, along with the sweet high pitched voices of children hiking on the muddy trail. Today was very unlike winter 2011 when we were socked in with 16 degree weather and snowbanks higher than my raised porch and no one else left their homes for a week. Cross country skiers took over the main road through my neighborhood.
For my friends in far flung places, I'll report what I failed to mention in my Christmas card: we haven't really seen winter weather here in Missouri. There have been a few "Arctic blasts," some bitterly cold and windy days, lousy road conditions that come with ice and snow, but fall weather lasted forever, allowing me to burn my entire yard before December (and for lots of folks in the the Ozarks to check off target rx fire units. 16 of 27 of mine are done. Record breaking. What am I supposed to do in February-March? Set out more kale! Still harvesting kale from August.)
Combing through my winter woodland photos, I see the same landscape as in November when the leaves had fallen and the late asters were still in bloom. The only snow photo I've taken all winter is from my backyard after the last fire, little tiny patches of snow that remain on a 40 degree day in January.