You know it has been a long winter when the woodland critters start digging themselves paths through the snow.
This morning, I looked out the kitchen window to see not just prints but a regular daggone pathway leading from the house to a hydrangea bush. I figured it was a squirrel route, but squirrels (like my students) don’t have the attention span to dig a pathway. They just leap and scurry. No, this pathway must be the work of tunnel digging chipmunks. In summer, the rock wall by that hydrangea is one of the entrances to their Maywood Metro System. Yeah, I can just picture Simon, Theodore and Alvin (!!!!! ) with tiny little shovels working their way across the garden.
The snow pack reveals a lot about who is coming and going out there. For example, it revealed my brother-in-law’s visit to the front door the other day. It also reveals all the routes the squirrels take to get to the house. One route is across the patio and over the abandoned hot tub where they leap on the house and into the attic to party until spring. There are other routes that involve leaping, Tarzan-like, from trees to the roof.
Like the squirrels, the mice have no desire to shelter under a hydrangea bush in the Maywood subway system. No, they want the full comforts of home for as long as they can get away with it. Maywood Man keeps tossing snapped invaders and still they come. You’d think they would get the message that the one-way track of mouse prints leads to a cozy house of death.
Meanwhile, out yonder, the deer have gotten the message that we are turning the clocks forward tonight for Daylight Savings Time. They have been seen traipsing across the field, brown against white, as though spring is coming, it isn’t below freezing, and they aren’t walking through nine inches of snow. Is it the longer days or the lack of men sitting in trees that signals to them that it is safe to use their usual paths through the yard? It sure isn’t the weather.
So it’s March, and we have no idea who remains in the beehives because it has been too cold to look inside and they certainly have not been coming out to play in the snow. We know at least one hive is empty and suspect that a second was not going to last the winter. It would be great to find the two strong hives waiting for us when the temp breaks 50 later this week. Regardless of who has survived, we ordered four packages of bees for the new season.
Spring is coming. It always does. The chipmunks are ready. And maybe some bees.