We’ve passed the Winter Solstice, so although the daylight is still quite short, it gets a little longer every day and that makes the chilly dark winter days easier to take. There are still plenty of lights up around town to keep things cheery and bright, and many people set their lights to turn on in the dark mornings as well as evenings. The Sons of Norway hall always looks good, reflected in the slough at high tide.We’ve had a few stunning sunrises this past week (today was the best!), and it’s nice not to have to get up too early to see it. We even had some pretty moonsets right around sunrise last week – so beautiful with the dawn light kissing the top of Bearclaw Mountain.We had a few good dumps of snow starting the day after Christmas, turning the National Forest into a true winter wonderland. We headed Out The Road to explore the tidal rapids at Blind Slough and to see if we could spot any swans or other birds. We saw lots of deer and mink tracks in the snow and some ducks flying in the distance, but no trumpeter swans that day. We had snowshoes with us, but didn’t need them since the shoreline of the slough was covered by a frozen crust that made walking pretty easy, and much of the trail was sheltered by tall spruce and hemlock so the snow wasn’t very deep.
It was so quiet out there, with the sun quickly sinking below the edge of the mountains. We often stopped to listen and savor the quiet, but as we were heading back to the trail we heard lots of snapping and popping – very strange! We looked around and finally realized that it was the tide coming in, lifting the ice which had slumped and draped over rocks and grasses in the shallows. We were glad we ventured out to explore, though we’ve ordered a set of studded snow tires for the car to make future exploration a little safer. Everyone in town is hoping for more snow and a chance to make good use of cross country skis and snow shoes, and to enjoy the wintry landscape.The winter birds are active in the harbor, with scoters, loons, goldeneye, teals, and the elegant long-tailed ducks.We’ve had a few blooms of krill in the water lately, bringing in even bigger populations of ducks and sea birds to the harbor. Sometimes I sit on the dock under a camouflage poncho with my camera to watch and photograph the birds, and it’s worthwhile to see them up close. There is so much beauty here – everywhere you look, and we’re grateful for the chance to enjoy it.
The New Year wouldn’t be complete without the annual Polar Plunge in the harbor. The intrepid swimmers gathered on a chilly, overcast New Year’s morning with the ambulance and a safety swimmer standing by. As the crowd counted down, the brave and the crazy took the leap!You might notice that a few people chickened out at the last minute, but we had a great range of ages represented among those who took the plunge.…and a couple of people lingered in the 48 degree water to relish the moment. Happy New Year!