Tuesday, January 8, 2008

January Thaw

January Thaw: A period of mild weather, popularly
supposed to recur each year in late January in New England and other parts of the northeastern United States.... Statistical tests show a high
probability that it is a real singularity." (Glossary of Meteorology)
The January thaw is here!

For over a century, New Englanders have talked about the January thaw as an annual event that usually occurs during the third week of the month. Each year, temperatures spike, causing a near total collapse of snow banks and ground cover. The result is a big, soupy mess. However, if you’ve had a winter as snowy as ours this year, it can be a real blessing: especially if you’re running out of places to pile snow in your driveway.

Accounts of the January thaw have always been thought of as more folk wisdom than verifiable fact. But lately, meteorologists have found scientific proof that this thaw is more than local legend. Their data report that most years do show a giant upsurge in temperature from the St. Lawrence valley to the Maritime Provinces each January. They contend that the thaw is not only unique to this region of North America, but it’s unlike any other phenomenon in the world.

The 2008 thaw arrived this week in Maine. That’s almost two full weeks early, but Ari’s certainly not counting. As best as I can tell, this heat wave is kind of like Shangri-La in the dog world. In 48 hours, the landscape has gone from frozen tundra to effervescent swamp, ripe with scents and scenes we’d forgotten about during the deep chill. We set out this morning to investigate.

Overnight, the neighborhood red fox family (Vulpes vulpes) hosted a dance party in the nearby hay field; by morning, they had left a crazy scattering of tracks (see above) for our consideration. We dallied in the field long enough for Ari to recreate some of their movements and to wish desperately that she had been invited to participate.
We also stopped by to see our wooly friends, Charlie Horse and Lily (Equus caballus and Equus asinus, respectively), who came out of their barn to play in the slush. Their camera-shy goat colleagues wandered out too, but chose to stay out of this amateur photographer’s frame.
Further down the path, we flushed a band of wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) foraging near the stream, and also noticed a real increase in other bird traffic. Ari’s personal favorite is the hairy woodpecker (Picoides villosus). She must have stood below his tree for ten minutes before moving on.
Today's Weather:

Low: 34 degrees F

High: 50 degrees F

Ceiling: Unlimited to Partly Cloudy

(Human Translation: more gloppy mess)

(Caninaturalist Translation: Woooheeeeeee!)


Farmgirl_dk: said...

Beautiful shots! Love Ari's footprint in the first photo. Do the donkey and miniature horse belong to you or just live close by?

Really cool idea for a blog, by the way. :-) (and thanks for your comment on mine.)

The Army of Four said...

Hey hey, Ari! We had TONS of snow, and ice, and snow and more snow and a blizzard and all. Then someone came and took all our snow. It's gone! Most of it anyway. We got a tiny bit back today, but not much. Where does it go when someone takes it?
Play bows,
PS: I'm Storm's little brother; you met her through Operation Bring Beau Home!

Demitri said...

There's something extra special and different in the photos this week, though it's difficult to assess. Great work, whatever it is. My favorite shots include the neighborhood mini-horses and hairy woodpecker at his woodworking. I always enjoy checking in with this blog.

Kathryn and Ari said...

Charlie Horse and Lily are two of our neighbors: we're really lucky to live in a rural part of Maine where we also have goats, guinea hens, pot-bellied pigs, dairy cows, and alpacas (to name a few) all nearby. As for our house, one very active caninaturalist and her two cat friends are keeping us really busy.

Katherine and Pippa, said...

We have lots of animals near us, but I don't usually put them on my blog. (goats, sheep, buyos, horses, pigs, and peacocks/peahens)

That snow looks horrid.


Maverick the Pirate said...

Harrrrr Ari
Cool Pics Harrr All of our snow is melting and is turning everything in to mud Harrrrr
Cap'n Maverick the Pirate

Gus and Louie said...

Those are some great pictures.. We don't have that wonderful snow to take pictures of.. We love the picture of the woodpecker. He is so beautiful...

Big Sloppy Kisses
Gus and Louie

Turbo the Sibe said...

January thaws are really stupid. It was close to 80 stupid Fahrenheit degrees here a couple days ago!

sharkgila said...

We looove reading about your 'adventures'. And those are very lovely pics.