An Early Winter

Ice and Snow takes the water of Nahant MarshThe brief season of gold was swept away by a quick plunge into an early season of ice. The water of Nahant Marsh stiffened as arctic air flowed down from the north to envelope the area. Snow came too, dusting the frozen water, brown meadows and leafless woods.

 

Nahant Marsh Education Center across the frozen, wintery marshAlthough the winter solstice is weeks away, it appears that winter is settling in to stay.  Winter has made an early appearance across much of the country this year, and Nahant Marsh is no exception. The main body of water was frozen over well before Thanksgiving Day. The winter “news” is once more written plainly in the snow for all to read. As ever, only the human prints are not barefoot. As always, I shiver to see the marks of bare hands and feet in the snow, and I am glad for my warm wool socks and dry boots. I would not do well in this weather without them. Winter proper is still a long ways off. It is even longer until spring.

 

A warmer day raises fog from the ice covering Nahant MarshA few rare warmer days did come in November, raising thick fog from the ice and snow. The warmth did not stay long enough to free the water from its ice, only to erode and mark fantastic patterns it in, complete with crash holes. And long stretches of below freezing temperatures rebuilt ice lost to those brief warmer breezes.

Ice and snow claim the edges of wind ruffled water As ever, there are yet unfrozen places. Even the depths of the coldest winter has a few places that do not freeze, or have only the most delicate crust of ice over cold water and deep mud. The ice is not to be trusted. Especially in this late autumn time, when it is not yet truly winter. The frost is working its way into the ground, but hasn’t has time to go as deep as midwinter will find it.

It may be that winter has arrived early to stay—long before its scheduled time. Perhaps a few late fall days will be in store, but the solstice grows closer everyday, and winter does seem to be quite settled in. Wear winter gear when you come out to play—unless you’re as tough as the wild creatures marking the snow with their bare feet, you will need it.

Winter comes early to Nahant Marsh

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Brief Season of Gold

Geese float on the still water of Nahant Marsh as the first autumn gold lights the trees.The all too brief season of gold is passing quickly. As the green of the past summer drains away, the brilliant yellows and oranges are revealed and light up the still lush, but fast fading leaves. Rushing headlong into autumn, the landscape glowing with the colors of flame and ember, the marsh will not long keep the vibrant hues.

Canada goose on water lit with soft autumn color

 

Already some trees have faded to brown, some have had their leaves stripped by autumn winds. Indeed, each gust of wind is full of leaves whirling down like rain. The blaze of color passes quickly. The prairies have their gold, too, and are full of seeds, many of them flying flags of silken fluff, riding the same breezes that are tearing down the leaves.

Geese fly over Nahant Marsh in autumn morning lightAs with every autumn, Nahant Marsh is an important rest stop along the Mississippi flyway. This bit of habitat surrounded by city has never failed to host a great many geese and other migrating waterfowl in all years I’ve visited. Flocks of geese come every year. All sorts of water loving birds come.

Waterfowl rest and feed on water bright with reflected fall colorsIn spite of the rail yard, the interstate highway, the heavy industry, every autumn they still come to rest awhile and feed. Each fine golden morning, flocks of travelers stop by the many watery channels and ponds of the marsh. Each gray rainy morning they are there, too.

Grays and silvery browns will soon replace the ember-bright colors of the brief season of gold. Already many of them have been cleared away as the leaves fall and the gold winks out like embers falling to ash. Winter is not far away. The last of the gold and the warm is passing.

Autumn gold at Nahant Marsh

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