“I woke last night just after two o’clock and found my larger room brimming with April moonlight and so still that I could hear the ticking of my watch. Unable and half unwilling to sleep again, I dressed and went out upon the dunes. When something wakes me thus at night, I often dress and go quietly forth on an exploring expedition. It was mildly cold in my ocean world, a light westerly breeze was flowing in fitful eddies close along the earth, the moon was full and high in a cloudless heaven, the surf was but a wash along the ebb. Staff in hand, I crossed the beach to the good footing along the water’s edge, and walked south at a slow pace toward a big dune.
As I approached the shadow of the dune, I heard from behind it, and ever so faint and high and far away, a sound in the night. The sound began to approach and to increase in its wild music, and after what seemed a long minute, I heard it again from somewhere overhead and a little out to sea. I stared into the sky but could see nothing; the sound that I had heard died away. Again from behind the dune, and to the west of the south, I heard the lovely, broken, chorusing, bell-like sound -- the sound of a great flight of geese going north on a quiet night under the moon.”
-- Henry Beston, The Outermost House (1928)
* * * * *
Spring officially arrives tomorrow with the equinox, although you might not know it from the weather we've had the past couple of weeks.
This winter started and ended with extremes. In December and early January we had one of the longest stretches of bitter cold in decades, which was followed by some record-breaking warm spells, with temperatures getting up into in the 60s and even the low 70s in February, along with record rainfall (8 inches if you include the first couple days of March).
That was followed by an incredibly wintry early March, with (for apparently the first time ever) no fewer than 3 nor’easters in 12 days, including a storm that dropped over 20 inches of snow in the mountains, and high winds that caused massive tree damage and power outages in the areas surrounding NYC.
All that snow did offer us the wonderful benefit of being able to go snowshoeing two weekends in a row (4 trips), which we couldn’t have imagined earlier. I think it's safe to say that they were among the most fun, exhilarating, beautiful, and memorable trips of the winter. If you didn’t come... well, you missed out on snowshoeing at its best.
T-shirt weather could actually be returning relatively soon, although just when is anybody's guess. Average temps should keep rising in the coming weeks, and a heat wave could hit us anytime, especially when we get well into April.
I've periodically addressed the subject of climate change and global warming in these weekly e-mails, as some of you know. During the past couple of decades many climate scientists have predicted that global warming would lead to more frequent and intense "extreme weather events," which is exactly what has been happening.
Unfortunately we have a government that's currently being run by some of the most "climate ignorant" leaders in the world, as you know, some of whom don't even believe in evolution or other established science. Thankfully there are many dedicated groups working hard on this issue. One of the best things we can do is to elect new leaders who are "climate aware" and will do the right thing.
For now we have to learn to adjust to a world where the weather is more unpredictable than ever. Thankfully we and most other living things are very capable of adapting, within limits, when necessary. Even amid periodic weather complications we can, of course, continue to hike and commune with the natural world, and enjoy the many healthy benefits of doing so.
I hope you'll be joining us out on the trails to welcome spring's arrival soon. It won't be long before we finally see endless new leaves and flowers again (are you looking forward as much as I am?), and during our hikes we'll again be able to take rest breaks basking in the bright spring sunshine!
-- Charlie Cook