Winter Provisions

The Sourlands are frozen over. Several days of freezing rain and snow have left a beautiful and temporary crystal layer over the forest.

This morning, the varied calls of a small flock of crows echoed across encrusted surfaces. Their weight caused loosening ice to fall from their high perches. They sat high above the birdfeeder, causing the chickadees and titmice to buzz and tseet.

Mice scurried across the top of the ice into the woodpile and across the living room floor. Several inches of ice and the recent mowing of the meadow must require some adjustments (including an annoying increase in nighttime nibbling, scratching, chewing, and rustling).

A red tailed hawk flew over the forest and the bald meadow. Fox tracks crisscrossed the trails, and squirrels dug for their caches. A dead tupelo has fresh woodpecker holes at its base. Everyone is looking for food.

We're working our way through our cache from this year's garden harvest. Last year was an inspiring mast year, but this past season's garden was devoured by woodchucks, rabbits, and a voracious corn-eating downy woodpecker. Nevertheless, dilled beans, ketchup, and hot peppers glitter in Ball jars and Kerr jars. Frozen peas, corn, and squash wait in the freezer. Potatoes are in a sack in basement. Tobacco is drying in the spare room.

Tonight, I'll fill the feeder with cracked acorns, and hope the downy woodpecker forgets about her love for Stowell's evergreen corn.