Lots to discover in melting snow

You know you’ve waited a long time for spring when suddenly you discover that you’re regularly snowmobiling over your lawn chairs.
Or, when you notice that the thin metal strip poking out from the middle of a busy snowmobile trail actually is the keel of an overturned boat.
There’s a whole world under all that white stuff that’s easily forgotten—until the top coats start to melt.
Still, thank goodness for the sun that marches in this time of year. And for the shrinking snowbanks, which makes it a lot easier to see around the celestial corner into spring.
This week, the mercury is supposed to be on an upswing, although generally Environment Canada is predicting cooler weather in these parts until the end of May.
I guess this means that the land cover will transform slowly, which is fine by me.
For people who love nature, a slow thaw provides a lot of interest. It doesn’t just reveal objects like boats and lawn chairs, but also a peek at the lives of many creatures.
I was out for a lunch-time walk earlier this week and was amazed at how many holes and tunnels are revealed by the melting snow.
Most of the larger ones belong to peeking squirrels, but there are ones that belong to voles, mice, and weasels, as well.
It also seems like a lot of grouse are budding from their snow roosts. They seem so much more active now that it’s getting warmer.
It makes me wonder how much longer will it be before bears emerge? Certainly the cubs will be getting fatter by now as they suckle in their dens.
And what are the beaver doing, now that they are at the end of their breeding season?
You get an idea when you perch yourself on top of a beaver lodge at night. Through the breathing hole at the top of the lodge, it’s common to hear the beavers as they rustle in and out of their cavity to access their cache of branches.
Then there are the creatures at the top of the snow, such as the snow fleas.
For some reason, I see these springtails most often in late winter and early spring. They are visible especially at the base of trees because their job is to decompose vegetation.
At first glance, they just look like a sprinkling of pepper. But if you press your hand into the snow, they start to dance like popping corn.
I like observing these six-legged bouncers through a magnifying glass. And because they aren’t real fleas, there is no concern that they will attach to human skin.
So really, all you need to do to enjoy evidence of spring—and to dismiss the barren feeling of winter—is look down.
And if your lawn chairs are buried, don’t worry. A sit in the snow will suffice.
Share your lake life news by e-mailing Joanna at joanna@escape.ca

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