Monday, November 26, 2012

The Joy of First Snow

In northern Minnesota, November can be tough.  Decreasing daylight, little sun (as little as 30% of possible sunlight peeks through overcast days) and dropping temperatures all make it tough to get outside and enjoy the natural world.

But, the first good snow changes all that.  Everything seems a little brighter, the negative spell of November is broken and those of us who choose to call the northwoods home have a little spring in our step.

This weekend we received six to eight inches of beautiful, white snow.  The temperature dropped dramatically as well (It is currently 9 degrees Fahrenheit.) and it looks and feels great outside.  This morning, my kids were out the door before 7 AM, shoveling snow, sledding and generally just romping around.  There was no struggle to get them out the door for school, and everyone in the house was ready for the day.

Snow also allows us to see what is going on in our backyard.  Like many people we traveled over the holiday weekend.  When we got back to all the snow we barely put our things inside before heading back out to play.

We live in the town of Ely, but right on the edge, and we share a chunk of woods with our neighbors that borders public land.  So there is a pretty good and contiguous green space near our property.  It is common for us to see coyotes, deer, grouse and a fox now and again.  The first snow lets us see what exactly is traveling through the yard.

As we looked into the backyard, we immediately saw tracks heading to our compost bin.  We quickly figured out two deer had stopped by and enjoyed a little rotting watermelon and a few bites from flowers edging our garden. 

We followed those tracks a bit and saw some canine tracks following those.  At one point the canine was walking and then began to run.  Did a coyote possibly come across the deer and give chase or did one of our neighbor's dogs just cut through our yard?  No way to tell.

A little farther on, fresh snowshoe hare tracks greeted us.  Very cool.  It is amazing to see the large holes in the snow left by those massive feet.  Our family fanned out, checking all of the tracks in the woods and following them to see if we could find anything.

We checked out tracks and played in the snow for about an hour, before heading back into the warmth of the house and our wood stove.  What a great way to end the weekend but more importantly what an awesome way begin winter.

November's not quite over, but the snow and cold has let us know we have transitioned to winter.  All I can say is, YES!