For some weeks red squirrels have been gathering cones. Although that sounds rather casual it’s serious business.
Unlike some of their cousins, including Columbian ground squirrels, red squirrels don’t hibernate but stay active all winter. If the weather is extremely cold they remain in their nest but otherwise it’s not unusual to see them out in the snow.
It always surprises me that the tiny seeds of spruce cones provide them with enough energy. It’s double duty right now — eating enough to put on some weight and storing enough to see them through to spring. Those cones, along with the mushrooms they’ve harvested and dried, should do the trick.
Red squirrel Tamiasciurus hudsonicus
We are done with winter
But winter, it seems,
Is not done with us.
Like an unwanted house guest
Lingering past the Best-Be-Gone date
In the shadowed coolness
Autumn and Winter argue daily here
Now blue sky and sun
Warm afternoons and freezing nights
Rites of passage as seasons collide.
As I headed out on my walk this morning I spied a frozen puddle.
I was tempted to walk right by. Afterall, it was just a puddle. Instead I stopped, dropped and got personally acquainted.
Glad I did.
Rime — tiny ice crystals that form when supercooled water vapour freezes on contact with solid objects
Storms that pummelled the West Coast a few days ago sent moisture-laden clouds scudding over the rocks and into Alberta. When the water vapour landed here it grew into fog. Then freezing temperatures worked their magic, turning windward surfaces white with rime.
A misty grey fairyland …
The edge of the woods
Cow hair (Yes, that’s dried dung hanging off it. Cows are hard to toilet train.)
Balsam poplar Populus balsamifera
Canada thistle Cirsium arvense
White spruce Picea gluaca
Got close and personal with the weather forecast last week
Hunkered down on the gravel road
Went eye-to-eye with winter.
Yup. Winter has launched a shot across autumn’s bow. The faint drizzle yesterday turned into several centimetres of the white stuff by morning.
North wind snow on corral
But the temps will rise later this week and the panic to install snow tires, replace the weather stripping and buy new gloves will wane. After all, winter is months way.
Wild rose hip Rosa acicularis
First snowfall of the season arrived yesterday. Not a lot. Just enough to let us know that winter has checked its bags and is on its way south.
A walk along the fence line revealed that many local inhabitants have already hunkered down.
On sunny days just a week or so ago, wood ants in this ant hill still foraged outside for food. Now all is quiet, muffled beneath the white.
Wood ants Formica spp.