One of my favorite parts of being in Maine is the weather. Summer is beautiful, fall is enticing, but winter holds so many surprises that it truly takes the cake in my mind. A forest without trails becomes a new map to navigate on cross-country skis. A lake that was once open water becomes a frozen sheet of ice that can now support the weight of humans, snowmobiles, and even cars. The land becomes still, but life persists. A forest may seem quiet, but life can be found with a bit of investigation. Birds forage, searching for any seed that they can get some extra calories out of. Mammals hide in the snow, staying insulated in their little igloos, but even they will make appearances while foraging. If you look hard enough, you may catch one out and about. All of these situations have come to be in Maine since we are experiencing a cold spell of consistent temperatures in the negatives. This morning the temperature was -20 degrees Fahrenheit. At this temperature, your breath freezes on your eyelashes with ease and any cold extremity can turn into a problem before you know it.
Deer struggle to find food that contains enough calories to maintain their body heat. I have seen a few since I have been home, but the sightings decreased once the cold temperatures arrived. The icy conditions are especially brutal for deer. It makes it difficult for them to walk in the woods, forcing them to use more energy as they move around. They also have to dig more to find food, as the ice covers the ground with a tough layer that must be broken. They are also more susceptible to coyote predation, as it is harder for them to run away, and their energy is spent faster than usual as they try to navigate through the snow and ice without falling.
I have been enjoying my favorite winter activity–cross-country skiing. My dogs join me for most outings, but even they have shown some sour attitudes in this chilly weather! I am heading out soon to take a friend’s Alaskan Huskies for a skijor romp. They have not been harnessed for a long time, so we will see how it goes! I am anticipating a couple of sprinting, jubilant dogs dragging me behind them as I attempt to stay up on my skis.