After getting a brief respite from the cold, the scurs had the Weather Eye checked over one more time. Will it warm up now or have we just seen the tip of the iceberg? (no pun intended) Starting Wednesday, mostly cloudy with highs in the upper teens with lows in the low teens. Thursday, mostly cloudy with highs in the low 20’s and lows in the mid-single digits. Partly sunny Friday with highs in the upper teens and lows in the upper single digits. Saturday, partly sunny and warmer with highs in the mid-20’s and lows in the upper teens. Partly sunny on Sunday and warmer with a slight chance of snow. Highs near 30 with lows in the upper teens. Monday, mostly cloudy and cooler with a slight chance for snow. Highs in the low 20’s with lows near 10. Mostly cloudy skies for Tuesday with highs in the mid-20’s and lows in the low teens, all above zero. The normal high for January 23rd is 23 and the normal low is 4. The scurs have served notice that their favorite time of year is nearly over and soon it will be time to think about getting the lawn furniture and jarts out again.
The Full Moon for the month falls on the 23rd and generally goes by the Full Wolf Moon. It was at this time of the year that the wolves could be howling near the tribal encampments of the Native Americans. The moon also goes by the Old Moon and is sometimes called the Moon after the Yule. The Ojibwe called it the Great Spirit Moon and the Sioux, very aptly I’m sure, called it The Moon of Frost in the Teepee. While there was certainly no frost in the house at the ranch, we were just hoping it would not be the Moon of Frost in the Well Pit. No one enjoys frozen water unless you’re an ice fisherman.
While last week tested our mettle somewhat, we have to keep in mind we skated through most of November and December relatively unscathed. We’ve sawed off a lot of winter already and are essentially halfway-plus through it. Yes, it was cold, although the cold snap was certainly nothing new in Minnesota terms. Indeed we are through the coldest part of the winter which typically occurs from about January 9th-21st. High temps for the area during that timeframe average about 22 and lows a tick below 4 above. Cold enough for most people’s taste.
The cold and snow cover has some of the wildlife starting to look for food around the yard. A large group of pheasants discovered the ear corn I’d left in the feeder for them. A group of 10 was meandering around the back yard on Monday as I nursed a quick-hitting alien making its first 2016 appearance. There were three roosters and seven hens, all in good rig. They were zipping around in the plum thicket at first then fanned out across the yard, some of them hopping up and down to pick off some of the low hanging nannyberries still on the bushes. The cottontails and the squirrels have also found the corn, scattering partially eaten ears all over the grounds. It doesn’t take the pheasants long to find them. They must think they’ve struck the mother lode.
A sharp-shinned hawk continues to be at the ranch from time to time, keeping the house sparrow population on the run. Watching it in action the other day, amazing how aggressive the little hawk was as it twisted its way around inside the brush pile and spruce trees trying to dislodge a potential lunch partner. There are plenty of jays, downies, hairies, red-bellies, chickadees and nuthatches keeping the feeders busy when the sparrows are on the run. We still have seen only the female cardinal at this point. She tends to appear most commonly during the low light times of the day and has so far been alone. Her appearance doesn’t change in the low light so not sure why she has no beau. Feel bad for her, having to sometimes tolerate the horde of sparrows by herself where the males in the past are generally not so hospitable. I’m sure there must be a male somewhere that isn’t paired up. Not to worry. Valentine’s Day is coming up soon.
So what do we as outstate Minnesotan’s do when we run into these cold snaps? Ice fishing was mentioned and now apparently there is enough ice for permanent fish houses as a few are dotting area lakes. Mrs. Cheviot puts together puzzles. I like to watch the wildlife and look for Studebaker parts. Some of us also find time to go to basketball games like this past Sunday. What a great escape from the icebox to score tickets from Vista’s noted Swedish astronomer, hop on a warm chartered bus and head to a Gopher women’s basketball game to cheer them on. That and having a little lunch prior to that in order to keep our strength up. It’s especially nice not having to drive through the Twin Cities and to actually look at it once in a while without trying to guess what some numbskull driver is up to. Did you realize the Foshay Tower is no longer the tallest building in Minneapolis? A special “thank you” to those responsible for arranging these welcome little respites from winter. I was asked by an appreciative lady on the bus if I knew the chief in charge and she asked me to thank him for her. Am doing that now. Sometimes we take a lot of this for granted and we don’t recognize it until it’s gone.
See you next week…real good then.