As arctic winds roar south over Manitou Mountain, coursing down through frozen mountainside quarries, bending low Milkweed and Monarda, their sere, dried flower-husks scraping patterns in the crystalline snow of the Woodstock Valley, deep winter comes to Waghkonk. Animals large and small, some with claws and some with paws, cast far and wide for a desperate meal, their stories told in fast-fading traces on wind-blown white, like lost memories past, as some live and some don't. Others, maybe taking a simpler path, slow down their world and wait for the green.
"Got us a real, old-time Catskills winter", an old-timer might say, or even someone walking down Tinker Street, tightly holding hat to head. Many Beeches and some Oaks have tried to keep their last-season's dried leaves on their otherwise-bare branches but seem to be losing that battle to the polar jet. Snow that wasn't frozen is being piled into gleaming, sometimes corniced, snow-dunes, reminding us once again how much a northeast winter landscape can be like an icy, snowy desert, which - like most deserts - always harbor hidden life, however dormant and half-frozen. Some small (and not-so-small) insects and mammals half-hibernate and hide under bark and leaf, as well as carefully chosen caves, waiting for warmth. I guess we're not all that different and this winter many local humans might be happy to replicate their strategies.
It’s true - our seasonal rollercoaster continues - a few days mild and dry, a few days cold and snowy. This is the same cycle we’ve experienced since last June - only it is the cold version. As usual, these back and forth conditions in the winter lead to a freeze-thaw cycle - everything that thawed today might be ice tomorrow. Everybody, please be extra careful out there - walking or driving. Stepping wrong on ice is definitely hazardous and the local hospital stats show it with a major uptick in injuries from slipping and falling (in particular, watch for patches of ice covered by snow). Please use some form of ice-gripper like Yak-Trax wherever you think it might be icy and if you can’t avoid walking there. Drivers have to be extra careful at night to look for black ice - re-freezing water from snow-melt on roads - and slow down accordingly. Also VERY IMPORTANT - clear all snow from your car so it doesn’t blow back on the car behind you. It’s actually illegal to not do so but this is never enforced - wish it was more).
Have a Warm and Safe Winter.
Let’s all please slow down and try to help each other.
Thanks - “Ranger” Dave Holden (845)594-4863