… So, today, I spent some time at a tidal estuary, just at the turning of the high tide, in winter. My goodness, what a wonderful thing. Ice and snow covered everything, but (this being an estuary) none of it was what you might think of as solid. You could hear the water draining through the layer of snow, and every few minutes the ice would settle, as the stream slowly lowered. You could hear the trickling of water through snow, hear the shifting of ice, hear a waterfall, upstream and out of sight… You could hear seagulls arguing, and unseen songbirds making their presence known. A hawk kept silent watch on a dead tree, then disappeared while your back was turned. Canada geese kept flying, looking for open water.
Come spring, long-legged waders will show up, but this will be a very different sort of magic. The murmur of water moving through snow and ice, the desultory shifting of bathtub-sized floes, the whispering of the waterfall a hundred yards upstream, the sounds you can hear in the absence of the louder birds, waves, cars, boats, and people…
Spring will be beautiful, but it won’t be Winter. And Winter is beautiful. And if you ever get the chance to visit a tidal estuary in winter, and just hang around for an hour or two or three or four, my goodness you should do it. And if not, you can hang around a park, or a field, or a lake or river, or pretty much anywhere, for a few hours in the middle of winter. It’s a whole different world, and it is amazing.
Beats the hell out of staying indoors and watching television. So go. Take a break from all that other stuff, and just watch some birds for a while.
It is soooo worth it.