Monday, April 15, 2013

Spring in Fits and Starts

Spring time ephemeral ice globe (c) John AshleySpring arrives to these woods in fits and starts. But at least mud season is finally winding down here at the end of the road. Our days are above freezing for the most part, but nights are still cold enough to firm up the mud bog between here and pavement, some miles away. If we want to go to town, we go early. But really, who wants to go to town?

In this part of northwestern Montana, the high and low temperatures on April 15th averaged 56F and 31F over the past eight years. We'll still see snow flurries into May, maybe even June. But the ice and snow linger less as the nighttime temps crawl upwards. Still, as long as it freezes overnight, we get to watch for interesting weather creations.

Spent high noon today down by the creek. A little snow lingers in the deeper shadows, but not along the stream banks where snow melt has steadily raised the water level over the last week. Soon, grayling and trout will wriggle up into this current. But today's curiosities were splash-cicles, ice creations wherever the water gets rowdy enough for a splash zone.

Where dried grass stems bend down towards the gurgling water, one yellowed twig danced back and forth. Where it ended, water droplets washed across an ephemeral ice globe dangling just above the surface. Plum-size today, but I'll check to see if it's still around tomorrow. Nearby, a bright red dogwood stem dipped into the churning bubbles, weighed down by a half-inch coating of clear ice - denser and heavier than winter rime.  In a few weeks time, fragile green leaves will replace these icicles. Only then will we say we made it through another Montana winter.

Clear ice on red osier dogwood stem (c) John Ashley