Saturday, April 12, 2008

Signs of Spring

"Weather Around the State of Jefferson..."

Sometimes when I'm driving in the car, I listen to our regional NPR radio station, Jefferson Public Radio. And when it's time for a weather report, the announcer almost always says, "Weather around the state of Jefferson today..." and proceeds to give the forecast for our regional towns and cities.

Have you ever heard of the state of Jefferson? It's where I live:

After dealing with more snow this winter than we've ever seen since we lived here...

(Taken from our living room window in late January.)

it's been really nice to finally have some lovely, warm weather. Forecast for today is 73 degrees and sunny, clear skies. And, it's just beautiful outside. I've got all of the doors and windows open. I made a list of jobs to do today for both inside the house and outside, so I work inside for a bit, then I'll be overcome with an urge to go back outside. And sometimes I just enjoy the warmth and the singing of the birds, so I walk around outdoors to see what I can see.

I've moved the pile of wood from beside the back door to the barn. I extended the retractable clothesline from the house to the post where it connects, and then I hung out some sheets to dry. I swept the back deck and eyed the barbecue with renewed interest. I moved my little table and chairs from the barn back onto the deck. I picked up three wheelbarrow loads of Ponderosa pine cones off the lawn.

And Speaking of Cougars...

Some of you may remember the post I wrote about cougar sitings in my area. Well. Last night my neighbor, who is a trapper for the US Government, asked me if I'd like to see a cougar he had trapped (dead). It was in the back of his truck, and it was a big one. Yes, I wanted to see it!

Oh my. The thing looked powerful, and even though it wasn't alive, it still scared me. I ran around to the other side of the truck to have a look at his head. I was immediately struck by the powerful musculature of its neck and shoulders. My neighbor said, "Let me show you what always amazes me. The size of the paws." He proceeded to move the cougar's paw so that I could see it, and the stiff (rigor mortis) cougar's head and shoulders popped right up as if he were sitting himself up. I jumped (and then laughed).

And then my neighbor began to explain why and how he traps the cougars. He showed me the equipment he uses and how it works. He told how he can lure them to the area where he sets up the traps and then how the traps work. And then he proceeded to tell me stories about cougar attacks on humans. Shudder. I am going to spare you the really unsettling details of this, but let me tell you that you don't want to go out where the cougars are without rearview mirrors and a spray bottle!

They're Back!

Yesterday I was standing at the kitchen sink, washing dishes and having a good look at the signs of spring that were visible from my front window. The meadow is beginning to turn green. Snow is melting quickly from the big hill in the distance, and there is barely any visible on the ground around our home. The clear sky was that gorgeous vivid blue color of the high desert. And I could hear birds singing and calling everywhere. Then up in the sky, above the meadow-flats, I saw two birds flying and circling and soaring together. I couldn't make them out, but they reminded me of Greater Sandhill Cranes. Oh, I was hoping that the cranes would return this year. Maybe it was them! For most of the springs we've lived here, there's been a pair of Greater Sandhill Cranes that have obviously nested somewhere out in the field.

Later, when I was at the sink again, leisurely washing dishes (if you have a window over your sink that looks out at anything interesting at all, it makes washing dishes by hand kind of nice), I looked out the window and noticed the unmistakeable form of two cranes, bobbing their way slowly, and seemingly aimlessly, around the field. I ran and grabbed the binoculars and watched them until they had ambled out of sight. It was almost like the return of old friends. I don't know why it was such a thrill to see them again, but I really was so glad that they came back, and I hope I'll see and hear them many times this spring.