Another Winter Day in the Valley

February 6, 10:30 am.

The snow has fallen thickly at my house and I try to remember seeing this much on the ground before. I am anxious to see how the valley floor is looking so I head for the south end. My first stop is the northern offramp of the highway where there is a pull-out. This area gets inundated and creates a small lake that was not here before the freeway altered the geography. It can be full of waterfowl but today just seems to have a couple of mallards swimming about. It is surprising how much snow there still is on the ground. The water has ice floating on the surface (just a thin layer). What a wintertime scene this is! I travel north along the highway noticing the white covered local hills. The snow has fallen thickest on the higher areas but even the valley floor has a good covering.

My next stop is the interior section that we call the western fields because I am curious to see what all those ducks and geese are doing in this weather. As I walk out with my spotting scope I can hear the myriad of different waterfowl calling, honking, quacking, squeaking; it is like a symphony of sounds. Looking out it appears there are dozens of ducks, hundreds of American Wigeon;  and fewer Green-winged Teal, Northern Shovelers, Mallards, Canada geese, and White-Fronted Geese. They seem to be celebrating the weather, the wetness, the cold even. Of course, this is not cold to them with those down coats on! I back slowly away, not wanting to disturb them and cause them to fly away;  it has been fun watching them in the spotting scope!

The sun is beginning to feel warmer as I head to the northern wetlands area along the eastern side of the valley. There is an astonishing amount of snow on this side too, though it is the inundation that really is breathtaking. This is ” mithom kai”, the Little Lake. The sky over me has geese and ducks flying past in all directions. It makes me feel that this is just a little taste of what was once here. It is why I and many other diverse creatures, love wetland habitats.

To the north, I see the herd of subdominant bull elk lounging in the grass, looking quite relaxed while in the field in front of me a bushy-tailed coyote looks at me then goes on to hunt for gophers, voles, some small rodent? All the while he is turning back to check on my movements. 

There is for me, a feeling that nature is larger than I, and that is reassuring.