Nature Notes

Nature Notes

Dec. 8 — In late afternoon I counted 19 geese cruising on the lake. Maria Center resident, Antoinette, having arrived from an adventure driving the Lewis and Clark trail out west, was good company on several observations during this unseasonable warm weather. She noticed something making ripples as it swam quite a distance out from the shore, periodically stickling its head out of the water. I wondered if it could be a beaver. We decided it could not be a carp. Although carp sometimes show their heads, it’s usually in shallow water close to shore where they feed in warm weather. My final bet (no money involved): a large turtle. I’ve seen that kind of behavior with small turtles near the shore — periodically sticking their heads out, then “ducking” back down again.

Dec. 14 — Very dismal weather, with recurrence of covid cases and flu. We are heading for the shortest day of the year (winter solstice}.

Dec. 18 — Sunshine! and very cold. Ice has formed at the edges of the lake, around stems of cattails, not yet on open water. Early today, several waterfowl out there. The most outdoor life I see are geese and starlings, the latter having relocated to other treetops from which to absorb sunlight. I see tracks in the light snow: probably rabbit, cat, and squirrel. With a warm coat and hood, and sturdy shoes the sunshine is delightful!! Thank God the freezing temperatures can slow down the trend toward spring.

Dec. 19 — From the 4th floor hall window: a change in the frozen lake to a slate gray, leaden surface.

Dec. 20 — A sunset from 4th floor window: clear sky except for many bright steaks of orange from above the dark tree silhouette the skyline. The streaks are from planes heading for the Chicago area. Stillness. The lake smooth as glass. The only movement now is the twinkling of colored Christmas lights near the drive.

Dec. 21 — Winter solstice: now days will lengthen, and the sunset will slowly move a bit north each evening. A blizzard is predicted for Christmas, with dropping temperatures.

Dec. 22 — 9:30 a.m. a flock of juncos are pecking in the grass in the Peace Garden outside the security door. These winter birds are probably missing the feeders which used to hang near the Maria Center portico.

Dec. 23 — “The weather outside is frightful,” the blizzard, wind, and zero temperatures having arrived. Looking south from the 3rd/4th floor stair landing the huge old sycamore dominates the scene. Covered with seeds: round balls of hard brown fuzz about the size of a quarter.

Dec. 24 — Bitter cold. Snow has stopped.

Dec. 25 — A bright, very cold sunshiny Christmas day. I went with a company of pilgrims through the tunnel to Mass at CKH. After Mass I mentioned that I wanted to take the walk back to the Motherhouse in the sunshine. I received immediate discouragement and cautionary warnings. I was confident and determined, however. But the equally determined and caring Vietnamese Sisters helped me get my jacket, head scarf, and hood all tied and buttoned. Of course, I was very careful walking back. And the sunshine was glorious. A blessing on Christmas Day.