05 February 2010

Skywatch Friday: A Midwinter Tale

You wake up one morning for an early ski and something has changed. Walking down the stairs, you look out the north window. Is there something different in the morning sky refracted through icicles hanging from the roof?:

Yes, something is different: Perhaps there is a clue here. Maybe the slant of the light?:

Ah, maybe. Oh yeah, here it is. The clockwork of Kepler's tilted earth has ratched one notch toward the sun (illustration from Kepler 1619, found on his Wiki page):

 Even the direction of gravity has shifted, it seems:

It is midwinter: the days are getting longer, the sun higher. Make no mistake, there will be 6 (or maybe 16) more weeks of winter in the northern Rockies around Butte, Montana. Still, the seasons change as inexorably as the course of our lives. Let's take a leisurely ski around the ungroomed Buzzy Trail and check in with the non-human people:

The deer mice people (Peromyscus maniculatus) agree. The snow is beginning to settle and firm up, allowing them to travel overland instead of tunneling through  the darkness (faint tracks with swishing tail):

Who is this fellow with tennis rackets for feet? Of course, one of the snowshoe hare people (Lepus americanus), also happy for the firmer snow. It is their time: their white pelage hides them from predators, but even if discovered they easily outdistance the small-footed red fox or coyote people, who sink down into the snow:

The white-tailed jack rabbit people also turn white with the coming of winter, but their smaller feet is better suited to the sagebrush prairie where the wind and sun pack the snow better than in the snowshoe hare's forest habitat:

MollyTheDog loves to pounce at the mouse people as they tunnel beneath the snow. And she becomes drunk with the sweet scent of a snowshoe hare. But nothing delights the heart of a dog like SQUIRREL! A scurrying, scurrilous squirrel. Here, one of the red squirrel people (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus):

A dog can always scent a trail if they can't catch a tail:

And yes, what a fine squirrel midden this is, something to last Tami another 6 (or 16) weeks, I hope:

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Carolyn said...

What a wonderful tale and beautiful skies and icicles. Have a great weekend.

Bill S. said...

Looks like both of you are having fun. Beautiful pictures.

Maria said...

Hi! The icicles are beautiful... like clouds, it's fun to imagine something in the shapes.
Your commentary is always wonderful to read~
You and Molly are great trail guides ~
Enjoy every extra minute of our longer days ~ Maria

secret agent woman said...

Those icicles are really amazing.

Janie said...

Great icicle pictures, with the ice growing in strange directions.
Looks like a fun adventure for human and non-human people. Good to see the squirrel is well-prepared for a long winter, just in case.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Seems like you and Molly enjoy being out on the trail in winter... YES---I guess it's going to be 6 or 16 more weeks of WINTER.... Sigh!!!!

Love the icicles --and their forms.

We had a little snow here during the night. It was just a dusting --but is pretty.

オテモヤン said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Kcalpesh said...

FREEZING moments.... Nicely shot!!

Pixellicious Photos

Judy said...

I love the last shot of the icicle, where it appears that gravity has altered!
I should post my mystery footprints, and see if anyone can identify them for me.

A Wild Celtic Rose said...

NICE icicle shots.

We have been totally ripped off here in the Pacific Northwest this year. (thanks for nothing El Nino)

I've skied and snowshoed in the rain this year.