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Friday, March 21, 2014

The Calendar Versus Reality

The persistent but subtle rays of sunshine that have penetrated the wispy cloud cover seep through the large window behind me and peer over my shoulder as I type this brief Blog entry. It's March 21st. Accordingly, it's Spring. Yet it's not the calendar that will signal the change of seasons but something else more meaningful and majestic.

The calendar factually declares that Spring has arrived, yet it's begging to have the page turned from March to April in a merciful plea for warmer weather. Winter in upstate New York has ignored the meaning of dates and the official introduction of Spring this year. Snow lingers along the side of roads in heaps that have too slowly diminished in size and gradually turned from white to brown from the splatter of sand distributed on the roads to defend against the ice. Even the most patient and understanding of citizens of the Empire State have been rendered anxiety-filled as Winter remains relentless in it's grip. Today was no exception, with temperatures this morning in the low twenties and made more troublesome with steady winds that breathed a damp, cold air into any crevice it could find in coats or houses.

I turn toward the window and look, not expecting to find what I want, compelled by hope more than anything else. No. No sign of them.

There are three bald eagles that have seasonal habitats much like New Yorker's who have grown weary and opt to live in the sunshine of Florida or South Carolina for the long winter months. While freezing temperatures slowly form a thick crust of ice that coats the Hudson River twenty-five feet behind our school building from December through February, the eagles seek the vantage point of their nests a quarter mile upriver by the hydroelectric dam that supplies the Green Island Power Authority with electricity. From their perch there they can maintain access to the fish in the area at the base of the falls that escapes the formation of ice by virtue of the constant churning of water. That source of food provides the magnificent and regal birds with sustenance during the harsh Winter months with a steady diet of fish.

Although the ice that recently covered the Hudson like an ill-fitted wig has been broken up into stubborn ice flows that resemble jagged pieces of a giant puzzle, it has not been perceived as welcoming enough for the eagles to return to their warm weather nest at the edge of Center Island, a small slip of land that sits in the middle of the river that separates the city of Troy from the village of Green Island.

Ah, when I can spot the eagles in their nest high above the water at the fringe of the mature stand of trees that climb above the floor of the island, then I can relax and be confident that Spring has finally, and really, arrived. Shortly thereafter I can take the stairs to the roof of our school and be at the same height as the eagles and watch them, hoping to catch them in flight as they soar through the sky and suddenly dive down to pounce on unsuspecting fish in a series of movements that offer an aerial ballet that few people have an opportunity to witness.

Until then, we can only bundle up, be resolute, and endure the last vestiges of Old Man Winter.

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