Sunday, April 09, 2006

The First Qupanuak of Spring

The snow bunting's arrival in our village is a harbinger of spring, much the same as the robin is for those living in southern climes. This morning, despite a windchill of -20 C, I saw my first flock of a dozen or so intrepid qupanuak (pronounced who-PAN-oo-ak) flitting between the houses. This means the snow will only linger in town for another 6 weeks or so, and another winter will be put out of its/my misery. And not a moment too soon since I seem to have lost my mitts and don't want to spring for another pair until next October.

The return of the snow buntings has put me in a contemplative frame of mind as I realize that Nature's annual wheel is actually going somewhere after seemingly spinning its tires like a truck in a snowdrift for the last six months of whiteness, cold and darkness. There is a natural cycle of things, endlessly looping for milennia, which creates an ineffable rhythm for our daily existence.

Here is my northern Almanac based on many years' close observation:
JANUARY - Snowstorms and darkness.
FEBRUARY - More snowstorms and darkness.
MARCH - Yet even more snowstorms. But at least it is bright enough to tell visibility is zero/zero.
APRIL - The first days on the plus side of zero. A bumper crop of six month's of dog shit slowly appears.
MAY - Night time virtually disappears except for twilight. Children roam the streets 24 hours a day à la Dawn of the Living Dead.
JUNE - Geese migrate north. Cue the sounds of honking and shotguns.
JULY - Sea ice breaks up by the first week of this month. Freighter canoes in the water 15 minutes after.
AUGUST - First construction workers arrive. Massive spike in the local birthrate nine months hence.
SEPTEMBER - Geese migrate south. Cue sounds of honking and shotguns.
OCTOBER - First snowflakes fall. Snowmobiles reawaken after short hibernation.
NOVEMBER - Aurora Borealis (northern lights) at their peak. Temperatures plummet while cabin fever begins to set in.
DECEMBER - Darkness descends. Drinking begins.

[Ed. Note: I don't want to hear any complaints about the picture accompanying this post, which is actually of an English snow bunting. Ours have darker plummage at this time of year, but Google Image Search has seen fit to only propose British ones for my piracy. Bastards.]


Blogger Fuff said...

Ah, but the British snow bunting is used to the filthy tabloid paparazzi and as a result, is far more willing to pose than other types.

8:32 AM  
Blogger nanuk said...

Fuff: True, we Canadians are shy, retiring types wary of the limelight. Come to think of it, I have never seen a picture of a Canadian snow bunting.

9:02 AM  
Anonymous Nunya said...

I love birds of all kinds. Right now we have a small tree right outside our house with a nest and a mom trying to hatch her babies. Can't get close enough to see what kind of bird she is, though. My kids are so excited, it's beyond words!

2:32 PM  
Blogger merlinprincesse said...

I will never complain about my Winter again.... I swear... :)

5:39 PM  
Blogger nanuk said...

Nunya: I bet your new cat will be excited as well. Make sure you "belle" him.

merlinprincesse: Go ahead and complain. Our national passtime is bitching about the weather, and I would not like to see you deny yourself.

6:54 PM  
Blogger Mr. Fabulous said...

Have I mentioned that it was sunny and 85 degrees today? :)

8:54 PM  
Blogger The Wrath of Dawn said...

That's not that different than here. Of course, our temps don't drop as low but we'd probably win the dampness wars. Thank God it's spring again. If we'd had any more blizzards, I'd have gone spare. Not that you could tell.

8:57 PM  
Blogger The Phosgene Kid said...

First sign of spring in Arizona is grampy and granny climbing into their motorhome and heading back North. Good riddance. Wish those damn Yankees would stay back in Ill-a-frikkin-noise where the belong. Guess they don't call 'em "FIBs" for nothing...

It got up in the 90s here today.

10:20 PM  
Blogger nanuk said...

Mr. Fab & TPK: You're laughing now, but in another couple of months when it is hotter than Hades, just think of me basking in the sunshine of a nice 60 F day. I only need to turn on the airconditioning in the truck but two days a year.

WoD: "going spare" - nice turn of phrase!

5:23 AM  
Blogger Tea and Books, etc said...

Lol to the geese migrations accompanied by honking and shotgun noises. :-)

1:09 PM  

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