Winter is beginning to feel long here in late February, as the temperature dropped below zero for the umpteenth time again last night. Today’s crisp, clear, still weather does elevate the spirit, though. We took a walk in the sunlight to start the day — a good way to fight seasonal affective disorder at this time of year.

I’d guess that the creatures in the woods are having a harder time than we are. We and our neighbors have been seeing more of them lately; they seem to be getting hungry. Last Wednesday, as I was packing a bag for a short trip to Boston, Wendy called from her office, “Mark! Come quick! Come quick!” And there in the back yard was the first fisher cat I have ever seen in broad daylight, jet black against the snow. (I’ve seen them in the headlights before, skulking by the side of the road; they’re generally nocturnal.) He (she?) was healthy and chipper-looking, easily three feet long, a good portion of that length being a strong, shaggy tail, and he seemed to be snooping around for food, which, in a fisher’s case usually means flesh or blood, as I understand it. The first time we visited this property, we hung around admiring the place for a while after the realtor left, and the neighboring dairy farmer and his wife drove up the dirt road (they and their family are the only other inhabitants on this dead end) and stopped for a long chat. I’ll call them Bob and Marilyn. At one point, they began telling us animal stories, and Bob, who pastures a few heifers and grows hay and sweet corn on some of our fields, told one about seeing a fisher the previous spring trying to drown a baby fawn in the stream that runs through our property.

The fisher we saw last Wednesday looked beguilingly friendly, although I wasn’t close enough to see the icy weasel eyes. He was quivering with energy and intelligence as he checked out the empty chicken house in the backyard (where a squirrel and a vole or two are headquartered for the winter) wandered across the small frozen pond next to it and meandered downhill in the strip of woods that follows the stream where the attempted and perhaps successful drowning took place, checking out the trees for living inhabitants. Not finding any, he followed the stream across the road and down toward the Connecticut River.

That same day or the next, a bobcat nabbed a chicken from a neighboring friend’s coop. She happened to be outside when the cat came by the following day, hoping for another treat, and the cat was utterly unconcerned by her presence, even when she called to her roommate, who also came out to watch. The cat turned and stopped, looked them in the eyes for a while, and took its own sweet time wandering away.

It’s nice to know there are such healthy critters in the woods, but Wendy kept the cat inside for a day or two.

A thoughtful opinion piece by Root Routledge. Check it out and then send it to those of your friends who call themselves skeptics.  Most likely, they are actually misinformed …

As of a week ago, this blog has taken on an entirely new look. This is to reflect a major change in my life circumstances–and interests–since I started this blog, just as my second book was being released, a few years ago.

That was a difficult time. The writing of that book was an unpleasant experience, and I am not overly proud of the result. It’s okay, but it’s basically a first draft. The publisher showed no interest in quality. My editor denied my request for just one rewrite, and he and his colleagues wrote the book off before it was released–which happened two days after Christmas, to give an idea of the marketing savvy involved. Anyway …

At the same time, a very important person in my and my children’s life was dying–and soon did. My younger child, a daughter, left for college the following year, so I found myself an empty-nester. And for reasons having to do with the death that had occurred, my girlfriend and I were compelled to move twice in the space of a year. A lot of upheaval.

The second move has taken us from suburban Boston to the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. The photograph in the banner above is a view of Mt. Washington that I took last winter from a spot near our new home. To me it is a unique perspective on the defining geographical feature of this region, for it is taken from the west. I had always approached the mountain from the south or east on the many rock and ice climbing trips I took to the White Mountains before we moved up here. Mt. Washington seems larger, more peaceful, and more majestic from this side, with the smooth slopes of the Ammonoosuc ravine descending nearly from its summit to its base.

As the sparse entries on this blog may indicate, I have also been pushed back on my heels by the public relations war that climate science and climate policy has become. I may try to explain my thinking on that more fully in a post sometime, but, basically, I am very pessimistic about our prospects for doing anything real about what will almost certainly become an unprecedented global crisis in which tens to hundreds of millions of people stand a good chance of dying, and I don’t see how I can contribute effectively to what has become a childish screaming match.

The old blog banner, which featured a quote by Jim Hansen about climate tipping points, seems restrictive. I’m interested in, and writing about, other things now. (I’m working on three books at the moment, only one of which has anything to do with science.) Since I’d like to feel free to write about anything in this blog, I’ve decided to give it a new look (with the help of John Lehet, a fine photographer and Web designer, to whom kudos and many thanks). I may come up with a new name as well. Let’s see what happens …

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