January Thaw

We were prepared for the snow when it came early.  When the sub zero blasts came one after another late in December we said “Ayuh, the Farmers Almanac said it was going to be snowy and cold.”  When the ice storms came I’d done a lot of work moving snow off the roof to get ready for them and then spent some time in the freezing rain removing ice to keep the house above water.  Winter in Maine is to be expected, prepared for and dealt with. It’s not something that comes as a surprise and certainly not something to complain about.

That being said I don’t think anything could have prepared us for this year’s January thaw.  We have had so much warm weather and rain that the snow cover is almost completely gone.  Some of the big rivers are breaking up creating ice dams and flooding, but in general the flooding has been surprisingly limited.  Perhaps this big thaw now will give us an easier time come Spring.  A man can dream of a short Mud Season can’t he?

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These wild turkeys are pretty pleased with the thaw.  When the snow was a few feet deep behind the house they were nowhere to be seen.  Now that there is some bare ground they have come out to the forest edge to feed.

In deep winter they roost up in the trees farther into woods.  If you’ve never had a turkey come swooping out of a tree and over your head it is certainly an experience.  Seeing them fly up into the trees will make you laugh as you’d never expect these fat guys to get off the ground.  Stepping out on a still Winter’s night to empty the coal hod and hearing the flap of those big wings right over your head will give you a shot of adrenaline before you laugh though!

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These birds are still looking pretty fat this year.  In leaner years they get very skinny by Spring as feeding in deep snow is not easy.  We’ve been watching this flock since we bought this house a few years back and consider them part of the family now.

I’ve been doing a bit of my own January thawing lately.  This time of year I try to use up my left over dehydrated food from the previous year’s supplies.  Nutrition, flavor and texture all suffer from keeping that stuff around too long so this is a great time of year to use up what you can.  That will clear out space in the freezer for this years supplies.  I’ve been making lunches with my dried ground beef, pastas and sauces.  The sauces would still be good for another year but they help me use up everything else.   Last night I used the last of my mixed veggies in a soup for the family dinner.  Soon it will be time to start drying for this year’s trips.

The seasons are always in motion, for the turkeys and for us.  We’re both cleaning up last years food and enjoying a little mud under our feet instead of ice and snow.  Winter will be back in a few days, we know that, but eventually it will pass on to Spring.  Knowing that is what gets us through.  That and thoughts of paths less traveled by.

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