Sometimes, a winter storm ends in clear, cold but sunny air. Everything sparkles in light. More typical a gray warm front drives off winter. Last night, wind driven rain ended the first snow storm. The storm left behind more than a foot of snow in the woods. With the wind and rain still shrinking the snow pack on Chicken Ridge, the little dog and I headed to the shelter of the old growth.
We should have chosen open ground. The rain from clouds stopped but wind and warming temperatures created a storm of falling water droplets inside the woods. The heavy snowpack soaked up each drop, softening as it did. I post holed down the trail as my boot socks absorbed melting snow. Aki, never the fool, let me brake trail.
We had to cross an even deeper snow field to move from forest to beach recently bared by the receding tide. Our presence didn’t bother a loose collection of gulls relaxing among some small beachside boulders. One stood tall and alone on an offshore outcropping. I mused about gull behavior, always wanting to credit them with knowledge and organization skills they can not have. Later, a picture I took of the offshore guard showed it with a beak full of fish.
A raft of barrow’s golden eye floated near the beach along with one red-breasted merganser who might have hired as body guard for the smaller ducks. At the mouth of Peterson Creek the recently empty small bay was lousy with buffleheads and harlequins, scoters and mallards—all returned to their winter feeding grounds.