Even though we recieved another 7" of snow yesterday, signs are telling us spring is just around the corner. A griz is out near Pebble Creek. Black rosey finches are returning to our valley. A mountain blue bird was seen in the Park. Also our daughter Kelly is home for Spring break. So Spring must be here, right?
It's a good time to reflect on this past winter, easily the roughest we've experience over the last dozen years. Even now we still have 52" of snow on the level. Last year we were at 18". The increased snow depth caused some unusual events around our cabin.
A family of pine martens moved into our woodpile on Thanksgiving. Weíve had martens around our cabin before but never like these. Daily they would play in our windows, climb up and down our walls and once even pushed the door to our gallery open and came inside. During the last month or so, as our woodpile continued to shrink, they constructed a system of snow tunnels that completely ring our cabin. Cindy was out one day last week snapping photos of them as they popped out of the tunnel entrances. She sat her camera, a little point and shoot, down for a second and one of the martens rushed out and grabbed it. Lickedy split he was back in his tunnel.
Also last week a young moose got itself caught between a snowdrift and the side of our cabin. His only way out was to follow a path that lead to our propane tank. There the snow is 7-8 feet deep. His only option was to climb over the tank and struggle his way uphill. Which he did, his hooves missing the line going to our cabin by six inches.
Back in January, a bison that resided all winter in the willows just outside Silver Gate, decided to come calling. Fro some reason he waded through deep snow to get to our back deck, then climbed over a 10 foot drift of snow to stand on our front porch. Thatís when I heard the hollow sound of his hooves on concrete and looked out to see his huge back blocking the window. He then followed our shoveled path to the back of our cabin then took my snowshoe trail up into the woods.
We had our first shrike and last week a tri-colored black bird. Also our first towhee in fifteen years.
Through power outages, road closures, daily shoveling and roof raking, itís been an old fashioned winter. One thatís been easier to take because of our wildlife friends who came out of the forest to experience it with us.