It smells like spring today.
I know, for most of you that's not news, but fifty-two degrees on the second of March is a tad bit warmer than normal here. Not unheard of, mind you. When a Chinook wind rolls down out of the mountains, it can easily hit sixty in January. What's odd is the number of days we've had above freezing. Enough that the ground is beginning to thaw and emit the aroma of rich, damp earth. Spring.
Not that I'm complaining...exactly.
This weather is wonderful for calving. I wouldn't trade these balmy temperatures for the twenty-seven below zero we had at this time a couple of years ago, but...well, it's just not right. As much as I enjoy being able to take a deep breath without the snot crystallizing in my nostrils, it leaves me with a sense of unease. Impending doom, almost.
People will tell you farmers and ranchers are never satisfied. It's either too wet, too dry, too hot or too cold. And if it's none of the above, well, it will be, just you wait. Personally, I would say we are frequently satisfied, but never complacent. When your well-being is tied so closely to the land and weather, you learn its rhythms, and you feel it in your gut when something is out of balance. As much as you might enjoy it now, you know Mother Nature rarely gives a gift without extracting payback at some future date.
This is our second unusually warm winter in a row, and it is reflected in the size and number of the wildlife. The land is teeming. Where once seeing a coyote was a treat, you can now barely step outside the yard without spotting a sleek brown shadow skulking nearby. You assume every move you make, including your evening walk, is witnessed by at least one pair of canine eyes. You know if a cow dies the carcass will be stripped to the bones in a day.
The crows are rampant, and huge. So big I've mistaken them for eagles several times in the past year. Hawks, badgers, deer, foxes, even bald and golden eagles are multiplying like crazy. The animals are everywhere, fat and happy. It's wonderful...and it's frightening.
Because this weather won't last. That next bitter, killing winter will come, ruthlessly paring the population down to only the hardiest. Like Rome in its final days, this orgy of life teeters on the edge of an inevitable fall. No one expresses this sense of foreboding better than Corb Lund, in a song called The Truth Comes Out.
The music video is wonderful, and features the landscape just north of here, in Alberta: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EljkIvHAfWc
However, I recommend also checking out this live version, because the bass solo at the beginning is amazing: