“The bluebird carries the sky on it’s back.” – Henry David Thoreau
Winter in Ohio can be a long, dreary slog until spring arrives. We’ve had more snow this year than in recent years, so I’ve gotten to do a little skiing. While snow fall may vary from year to year, gray skies and sunless days are the norm. For me, a day of sunshine can chase away the “winter blues,” faster than anything. Our area of Ohio has, on average, 72 sunny days a year with 103 partly sunny days. That’s a total of 175 days with some sun. Not full days of sun, mind you, some sun. The months of December, January, and February, as you might expect, are the months where we see little sunshine.
Finally after days of snow, cold and dreary skies the sun shone bright against a brilliant blue sky yesterday. By afternoon, the thermometer reached a balmy 46, patches of green grass became visible through the snow, and slush was the name of the game. The chickens hadn’t been out for well over a week due to the amount of snow on the ground. Chickens, at least our chickens, are not fond of snow. The other reason we keep them shut in when the ground is snow-covered…hawks. The local hawks tend to find nice plump chickens too tempting to resist when the snow complicates their regular hunting habits.
With blue skies and sunshine in abundance by late morning, I flung the door to the chicken coop wide-open. One hen, perched on the outside roost wasted no time by flying out the coop door, landing in the midst of the deep snow. Though she looked bewildered at first, and not quite sure what to do, she finally decided it wasn’t all that bad and gingerly high stepped through the snow. The others though were not totally convinced this was a good idea. Before long they couldn’t resist the urge to do some scratching, and they were all soon out marching around the snow-covered yard.
A walk back near the woods and I found clumps of brave little daffodils peeking through the snow, plump buds in waiting. Apparently they hadn’t been intimidated by the inches of snow and cold temps we’d had.
I spent several minutes watching a downy woodpecker peel loose bark away on the paper birch, searching for hibernating bugs, eggs and larva. It was very diligent as it moved up and around the trees many trunks poking and pulling on the curling, papery bark.
Sunny days with blue skies in the midst of winter around here are cause for celebration. They often don’t last long in these parts so we must cherish the ones we get. Today the wintry mix of precipitation and gray skies will return. A nor’easter is bearing down with blizzard warnings for the North East, from Philadelphia to Portland. Over 2 foot of snow is predicted in some areas with wind gusts to 100 mph along the East Coast. All of a sudden a little rain mixed with snow, and a few days of dreary skies doesn’t seem so bad after all. Makes us appreciate those sunny days with clear blue skies when they do come along.