Sunday, January 3, 2010

Is This Really Florida?

Yet another icy cold morning here.  I was prepared for it today though.  I did not wear my uniform so that I could really pile on the layers.  I dug out every last bit of thermal everything that I have left from my years up north and put it all on.  I wore hand-knit wool socks under my hiking boots, and remembered to put on a hat and gloves.  I even warmed up the truck before I was ready to leave.  I headed over to the park and did my drive around and then went to the office.  I turned on the lights in the office and powered up the computer while I recovered all of my lost heat from the time spent out of the truck.  When I was feeling brave enough, I headed out for a walk around the park.  As soon as I left the office, I realized that I should have found my scarf too.  It was windy again.
I started at the cabin.  I opened it up, turned on the lights, and remembered that I needed to set up a new project for January in the craft room.  I went outside, turned off the dripping faucets, and took a picture from the porch.

When I got to the bottom of the hill, near the river, I saw that there was a lot of frost on the ground.  Every single ordinary leaf was suddenly exotic and beautiful.  I caught myself taking several of almost the same photo as I moved from leaf to leaf.  I was wearing gloves that end at my middle knuckles so that my finger tips are bare and I can use my camera controls.  They also have a mitten flap that can be folded over to warm my fingers when I don't need to use them.  I was taking pictures until my fingers got numb.  Then I would put my camera in its pouch, mitten-up, and move on to the next spot.

This view has really changed a lot in a month.  The buoys are covered in frost, it almost looked like it snowed on them.  I am hoping that I will have good news about our water situation in the coming days.  The levels up-river are beginning to go back down.  Hopefully, in a day or two, we will see the same.

When I headed back up the hill from the river, I thought about going to the office to get warmed up, but I decided to just finish my walk and get it over with.  I spotted a bright red Cardinal moving about near the parking lot.  I used an old trick that I learned long ago to try to get close enough for a photo.  I walked to the side instead of towards the Cardinal until there was a tree between us.  Then, I walked towards the tree, getting closer to the bird without it seeing me.  I had my camera ready and leaned around the tree with enough time for one photo before it flew away.  Its feathers are really puffed up to keep it warm.

I found that the outdoor shower by the restrooms was frozen solid.  It didn't break though, because it was left dripping.  Fortunately, that was the only place we had freeze problems.  While I was standing near the restrooms, I heard Sandhill Cranes calling.  They have a very distinct noise.  If you follow this link, and scroll down near the bottom of the page, you will find some call recordings.  The "Unison Calls" are most like what I hear when they are flying over.  I have never seen them land at Troy, but I hear them flying overhead from time to time.  I don't know if these are the Florida sub-species or if these are migratory ones from up north.  I'm glad I was able to get a photo.  Most of the time when I hear them, they are flying too high to see well.

I headed down to the spring and got a photo of the water on the walkway.  At least it still hasn't turned the first corner. 

With my walk completed, I headed back to the office.  I was so glad to be in a heated room.  I took care of the paperwork and finished up the reports that I didn't finish yesterday.  I sent out a few e-mails and planned out my week.  It is going to be a busy one.  I also cleaned off our big dry-erase board in the office and re-wrote all of our phone numbers that had become a scrambled mess over time.  I also listed out our still unfinished projects so that we have a check-off list.  I love crossing things off of a list!  When I grew tired of being in the office, I bundled up again and headed back to the cabin to set up the project for the month.  While I was there, I also added some folders to the storage filing cabinet in the craft room.  I now have the directions and examples for each project neatly arranged in their own hanging folder.  The project this month is bird masks!  I have blank, bird-like masks, glitter, feathers and markers available to the kids.  There is also a big poster on the wall with Florida birds pictured.  I encourage the kids to try to make their mask look like a real bird.  Sometimes its more fun to invent your own glittery bird though.

After my cabin time was over, I headed back to the office.  I spoke to exactly one park visitor today.  He was there to collect a lost item that he left in the park last month.  When my evening relief arrived, I was glad to head home to my warm, furry animals.


Linda said...

Amy, the frost photos are really beautiful! We wish we had you and your camera here for the snow photos - it's a winter wonderland, with snow taller than my boots. Don't you wish you had some? On my walk through the woods to the river, I saw lots of tracks in the snow.

Ranger Amy said...

You and Linda B really confuse me sometimes... I thought it was her when I first read the comment, but then I realized that her snow is probably much taller than her boots and if she was walking to a river it would be very frozen.

Linda BEJA said...

You're right Amy!! Our snow doesn't melt during it just gets deeper and deeper. Wondering if your sandhills could possibly be ones that came through here this fall ??? That would be cool!

linda BEJA said...

And yes, our rivers are definitely frozen...but what is weird to me is "overflow" or "glaciering." Everything is really, really cold and frozen, but if it doesn't stay well below zero, a lot of the rivers get overflow. Not a problem unless you are driving a snowmachine or dogsled using the river as a road, and then it's a serious, dangerous problem. It's open water flowing over ice, and sometimes it creates humps as much as 10 feet high!!