Thursday, February 01, 2007

Winter beach

Given a choice, where would you spend a winter's day? Deep in a forest, high on a snowy mountain, beside a quiet lake? Hawaii? In the absence of other options I choose the beach. Fall is my favorite season at the ocean, but a February day at the shore with a biting wind makes a person really appreciate the comforts and warmth of home. I think I need to be reminded of just how blessed I am, especially at this time of year, when the walls are closing in on me.

For a person who's attuned to nature and the cycle of the seasons, February holds the promise of Spring to come. Our winter birds will begin singing this month and the great flocks of Grackles and Red-Wing Blackbirds that mark winter's passage should arrive. Great Horned Owls are nesting. Skunk cabbage will poke its head out in wet places by month's end and red maples should begin to show some color at the branch tips.

It's still winter in February at the shore. There is ice and wind, and solitude. The Oldsquaw and Mergansers court on the glassy surface of the bay. There is little color to distract you from the cold, but for the occasional glint of sea glass brought ashore by the wind. With luck you might find a harbor seal hauled up from the bay to bask in the sun at low tide. An exceptional year for the birder would find a snowy owl in the dunes at North Beach. To repay your wanderings in the wind and cold there might be a small flock of snow buntings instead of a snowy. There are rewards to be found, for sure. Spring peepers and woodcock and plovers are just around the corner.

13 comments:

Susan Gets Native said...

Come on, Spring!
I can't wait for all of us to start posting about the crocuses and all the birds singing...

Mary said...

Laura, you need to write a book. Your words flow so eloquently. Did I say that before? Probably.

I am with you - looking forward to tree frogs singing, cannas blooming, hummingbirds, lizards on the porch. Most of all - long hours of daylight.

Mary said...

I forgot to answer your question. I'd prefer a beach or a lake. I love water.

Cathy said...

Spring peepers! Oh - I can hear them. Laura, this post was a Spring tonic. Your right about February - somehow I truly believe in the promise of Spring, whereas in January it seems still a distant dream.

Jimmy said...

Well said...spring is still a month or two away here in mid michigan...waiting till the first skunk cabbage pops up.

Jayne said...

Long hours of daylight... I am right there with you Mary. I look forward to the sun settting at 9PM! I am seeing so many warblers now, and can't wait to get the hummer feeder back up April 1st!

Endment said...

O-o-o-o-o those photos look cold!
On cold winter days - my dream is to spend the day (week - month) birding at Bentsen in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas but for today, the snow covered ground, light in the woods and birds at the feeders are nearly enough... :)
Your words do make me long for a stroll on the beach then a steaming hot cup of tea :)

Liza Lee Miller said...

Cold winter day? Oh, in a comfy chair, by the fire, with a good book and a glass of good wine and a nice view to look at out the windows.

Anything else is just making do! :)

But, I do agree that walking on the beach in the winter is chilling but special!

Lynne said...

Oh Laura, your writing is so lovely. You make me belive that spring really IS coming. I woke up to -8 degrees with a windchill nearly -20 so it's hard to believe today!

Deep in a forest.

robin andrea said...

On a really cold winter day, I like to walk in the woods where the sun peeks through the tree tops and dapples the ground. I like ice on the edges of the creek, snow-covered logs, tracks leading in every direction, and a sky so blue it takes your breath away.

mon@rch said...

Thanks Goodness that Groundhogs Day is finally here and just maybe spring can start to arrive! Then again winter just arrived but still can't wait for the spring peepers, ect.. to show up!

Sandy said...

I haven't heard if the groundhog saw his shadow today, but I am pretty sure we are going to have six more weeks of winter!
Your descriptions of the shore in winter are wonderful.

maggie said...

I used to love and visit Cape May NJ at Christmas time. So romantic and eerie. Can't really fathom it now but you word it well.