Monday, November 30, 2009

November 30: Buffleheads

Temperatures in the mid-40s on the last day of November as we step through the doorway into December. Rain here on the coast, while a friend in Vermont reports snowflakes. The mailman says tomorrow is supposed to be colder, which would be more appropriate for December. It's kind of hard to muster up the holiday spirit when green plants still flourish in my herb garden, and another day of drizzle clouds the horizon.

Five months from now, I'm probably going to be complaining that it's April and snowing. What do I expect? I live in Maine, in a weird little coastal area that seems to have its own weather patterns, in a time of global climate change.

Out on the river the buffleheads bob. These small black and white ducks breed in Canada, into the Arctic, and spend their winters in the relatively mild climate of Maine's coastal waters. Days like this must seem nearly tropical to them. When they first appear on the river each fall, it's one of those big reminders that we're headed into darker, colder times. But despite this association, I find the ducks themselves fun to watch. Agile divers, they slip underwater in a blink. It's a challenge to tally how many you're seeing in a little group, because several at a time dive down and then pop up in unexpected places. This mild spell means the river will remain unfrozen a little longer, so the ducks will hang out here later into the season than usual. When the river freezes, most of them head for the harbors and inland waters of the bay.

Downcast by rainfall,
yet buoyed by bobbing ducks.
November's last day.

Photo from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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