BY DAVID FABIO – GAZETTE COLUMNIST
I don’t know about you, but when I saw the snow carving for the winter carnival at the State Fair Grounds, I just had one reaction: It looked like some of us feel after this long winter. Enough with the cold and snow. Enough with the coughs, sniffles, runny noses and flu. Bring on the warmth of spring …
Even though some of us have stayed inside resisting the need to put on the heavy clothes and mittens, life has gone on in our area.
On Arcola Trail, I took a picture earlier this winter of a pile of corn that the farmer left out for the wildlife. At least that’s what the turkeys, deer and other animals assumed. The stack is smaller now. With the depth of the snow, the food supply was discovered and put to use.
Another farmer up by square lake contributes the scraps of hay for his cattle to the wildlife in the area. I’m glad to see people helping nature during a long winter. Whether it is a farmer that leaves an extra few rows of corn standing all winter, or a broken roll of hay near the woods, or many of us filling our bird feeders, it is an appreciated attempt to help nature this winter.
I spotted an eagle sitting in a tree soaking up the warm sunlight. Did you realize that this time of year, the eagles are feeding on dead animals? The turkey vultures we are used to seeing flying over the St. Croix River in the summer are gone. They were smart enough to head for Central America. Now, the job has been left to the eagles, to use their sharp beaks to open up the skin on a dead animal. When they have had their fill, other creatures can finish the cleanup job.
Another sign of last season’s activity: While I was driving to take some of the pictures, I spotted a hornets’ nest directly over the road. In the summer, I would have never noticed the big nest. However, with the leaves off the trees, the nest, with a small amount of snow on top, stood out against the blue skies. It is empty now. Soon, the bees will return to start a new bee hive in the area. Spring is just around the corner.
David Fabio is a local author and nature photographer. His latest book Water Pressure can be reviewed at davidfabio.com.