Saturday, January 10, 2009

January 10, 2009 - Round Pond, Duxbury, Massachusetts


The first to go were my ears. Next came the end of my nose. My fingers followed, despite my gloves. It was seventeen degrees this morning when I set out on the trail, and it was seventeen when I got back.

Despite these frigid temps, people were out and moving around. Many of them had to be. Of the fifteen people I met today on the trails, nine of them had dogs. The other six had bikes. I don't know what they were thinking. And they probably had no idea what I was thinking either.

The trails at Round Pond vary from wide open, windswept cranberry bogs and, of course, the pond itself, to dense pine woods. The pond is formed by a kettle hole, made by glaciers, and was used by the Merry family as a source of ice beginning in the 1880s. Any entrepreneurial young man who owned such a pond, or had the back strength to dig one, and who learned the secrets of the trade (it involved a lot of sawdust), could make a fortune by selling ice to hotels along the South Shore each summer before refrigeration. We take it for granted today that we have ice on demand. It wasn't always the case.

The weather today had the birds fooled. Chickadees, on three occasions that I heard, sang their two-note spring song. A downy woodpecker even drummed on a tree, his mating ritual, also a sign of spring. Sure, the sun was out, the sky was a clear blue to all points of the compass, but it was seventeen degrees! Had nature gone crazy?

Ubiquitous pine cone middens, though, showed that the squirrels, at least, hadn't stopped working to find food. Closer inspection showed that neither had the red-bellied and hairy woodpeckers, the kinglets, titmice or nuthatches. Throughout the woods they moved in mixed flocks, kept in constant contact by the continuous chatter of the chickadees.

They'll need that teamwork tomorrow, as more snow is on the way.
Time: 113 minutes
New species: None.
Stranger hellos: 15 (26)
What else took place: gave a talk on "The Birds of Duxbury Beach" at the Marshfield Senior Center; got hit by a car (luckily I was in mine at the time); read 100 pages in Searching for Bobby Orr by Stephen Brunt.

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