Monday, December 8, 2008

What a difference a day makes

Yesterday morning I took this picture of the ice forming across our bay. The temps have been in the single digits for several days now, so I guess I knew I was looking at the last of the open water.

This morning we woke up to a totally covered bay.

I'm not ready for this! It's way too early for the open water to disappear. Winter is still two weeks away. I'm hoping a huge north wind will come along and shove the ice toward shore again, but the odds are that the ice cover will be there until spring.

Every year soon after the bay freezes over we watch the deer gingerly work their way out there. How they know it's frozen enough for them to walk on, I can't even fathom. But we've never seen them fall through.

They're like little kids exploring this new territory--they wander aimlessly around, checking it out, and then when they've had enough fun, they amble back to the trees. There is no food out there, so it's not as if they have to go there. There is no protection out there, so it's a bit of a gamble for them. But, like little kids, they throw caution to the winds and just wanna have fun.
I love that about them.

Yesterday, we watched this little squirrel wander into the trap to eat the bait on the spring-loaded lever that slams the doors shut when and if he sets it off. This little bugger ate it all and then calmly wandered out again. If the doors had slammed shut on him, my husband would have put the cage in the trunk and then would have driven the little guy to a lovely squirrel resort area far enough away from habitation that he won't make a pest of himself. He would be joining a vast immigrant population that have been transported over the years in this same cage by this same human. We don't harm animals here, but neither do we want to open our doors to them.

We used to buy bushels of corn to feed the deer before we realized how easily disease spread through their population when they congregated too closely or fed from the same trough. Now we throw out a few apple peelings for them and let them dig through the compost pile for leavings, but they know we're not a reliable source of food. We need to keep it that way, even though there's a real chance that some of them won't make it through the winter.

I've long ago given up trying to figure out the hows and whys of Mother Nature. Can't live with her, can't live without her. . .


  1. Very neat to see the deer walking out on the frozen water like that! They definitely have a better instinct than I to know when its safe. I'm ready to trap my squirrels and transport them as well. They have become professional gymnasts on my birdfeeders!
    Stay snug & warm!

  2. I hear you about the deer. I have a little doe that keeps coming to my bird feeders every night. I hope that she doesn't think that I am reliable also, since I'm not there all the time. I have the opposite problem right now with squirrels, mine are MISSING. I suspect one of my neighbors poaching squirrels on my property when I'm not there. As irritating as they are, you really notice when they are all gone.

  3. Is there any type of betting "pool" on when freez-up or ice-out will be? Our hometown is on Lake Champlain (NY/VT border) and there is often discussions and penny wagering on the dates. My dad used to keep a notebook over many years noting those two annual events. That's one light stepping squirrel to not trigger that trap!

  4. Shelly, yes, those squirrels can be terrible pests, cute as they are!

    Denise, we've had big snows here so the deer are hanging around. My husband almost got one to grab an apple from his hand. Not a good idea, I know, but I did get a picture!

    Cedar, I've kept a journal since we moved here in 1994, but I haven't heard of anybody making bets here. Maybe we should start! Although there are only a few of us who are still here when it happens. Most everybody around here leave around Labor Day. So foolish. The best is yet to come!)
    I thought the ice cover was early this year, but my journal says it froze over on December 7 last year! I made a list of when the ice went out over the years, and the dates of our fall color peaks, but I haven't made a list of the freeze-over. I'm going to have to now. I like seeing the comparisons over time.
    Our color peak comes typically around the middle of October, though '07 was early because of a drought here. Peaked around the 7th.