Sunday 8 December 2013. After the “Bitter End”

At 6:30 this morning it was 19 degrees F and snowing lightly, with a thin dusting on the ground.

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Was very eager to get to Meadowbrook Park to see McCullough Creek, more visible now that the active growth around it has died back for the season. Was a little nervous about riding with Rhododendron’s thin wheels on the snow, but remembered that it’s less a matter of grip than of balance. Think “skating,” even “flying.”

Checked out the Race Street apple tree, to which quite a few apples still clung like ornaments, though it was starting to show that they’d been through a few freeze-thaw cycles.

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Pedaled slowly and deliberately toward Meadowbrook, glad for the special snow-quiet, for the lack of traffic. Reassured myself that if I went slowly enough, even a wipe-out would not cause too much damage.

At Meadowbrook locked Rhododendron to the rack near the Race Street pavilion and walked toward McCullough Creek. Its bed seemed to be dry, though it was hard to tell with the snow.

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Walked upstream, glad to be out in the snow but still feeling a little unfocused. Had been paying so much attention to the last of the active signs of plant life in late fall was almost shocked it could shut down so much. Bare trees, somber colors. Such stopping! Such reminders of loss, of death.

Still, the bare branches were starkly beautiful, especially along the winding stream and with the snow, enough to be pretty but not problematic coming down.

Then heard a woodpecker tapping. Thought it was on the other side of the largish dead tree in front of me, but it turned out to be on quite a thin branch farther away. Got a shot of it. Look carefully in the upper left quadrant; it’s there, really.

20131214-182850.jpg Stood and watched and listened a while.

Then a flock, I guess you could say, of six or eight roughy bluebird-sized birds came and landed in the nearby trees, seeming to linger a while to investigate the figure standing looking at the woodpecker. Wished yet again for a camera with a nice zoom–couldn’t tell what the birds were–maybe house finches. Anyway they were two-toned, as bluebirds (or house finches) would be. Need to look up the winter habits of bluebirds; seems like they should go south in winter.

Felt focused and glad to make a winter avian connection–life still stirring in the sleep and starkness.

Wandered a little longer; now there was obvious water in the creek. Liked its swaying path, accented by the snow,

20131214-184452.jpg with piles of logs and sticks, assembled by I’m not sure what human or natural force.

On the way back, my hands were FREEZING. Need to figure out how to optimize the riding/walking/photography ratio to make winter trips more sensible.

But still was happy to be out in the falling snow.

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