Monthly Archives: February 2013

northern Indiana

northern Indiana

swans resting

swans resting

Whidbey Island snow drops

Whidbey Island snow drops

In the northern latitudes of North America winter has many faces—from snow and ice to early blooming plants.

I have made journeys from one coast to the next and into the middle these last two months. What intrigues me is how many ordinary people are wondering about the changing face of winter in their area.

Folks in the northeastern U.S. who have recently been hard hit by snowstorms and Hurricane Sandy are seriously talking about global climate change. Unlike a few years ago when there was still a universal dismissing of “global warming”, people and their officials are having public dialogues about where and how to build.

In the central part of the U.S. in farming communities the weather has always been a part of winter conversations. Now it seems to me there is a wondering out loud about coming changes. Even with snow lying on the ground this year folks are remembering unprecedented early tornadoes in March of 2012 with a measure of unsettledness. . . and the droughts of last summer have not yet been quenched by mild winter snows.

In the lowlands of western Washington next to Puget Sound it is not uncommon for our maritime climate to have no winter snow. However, we had some of the highest ever rainfall totals in November and December. We are noticing that global climate change models for our area predict increasing warmth and wetness in the next decades.

Whatever continent you live on, I invite you into the dialogue about global climate change and its effects in your area. Talking about the weather really is an important past time!


IMG_5543photo by Dr. Chris Mann

My little corgi dog, Gracie, and I often take a late afternoon walk to the beach. Last week on a cold, rainy winter day we trotted to the top of the community stairs. I was busy unlocking the gate, as we have done hundreds of times. 

All of a sudden Gracie started barking. I looked up thinking another neighbor might be coming up the stairs, but I could not see anyone. Her barking got more intense and then I saw it. Not ten feet from us perched on the top stair railing between two wild rose bushes was a full adult bald eagle. I squatted down and told Gracie I could see the eagle and we should be quiet.

The bird was staring at us from ten feet away. Hmmm . . . . I thought. We may not be going down to the beach. The bird had an intensity of presence and its wings were slightly hanging down as if trying to get dry in the rain, or perhaps it was injured. I was not sure.

Slowly, I opened the gate. Gracie was on a perfect heel. The bird remained motionless. We stopped. Three creatures sharing the same ten foot, wild edge of Whidbey Island sized one another up. In a split second the eagle raised its powerful wings and abdicated the space. Gracie bolted back through the gate. And the ordinary afternoon walker was reminded again of the potential for wonder in every outing.