As February says good-bye, the freeze-thaw cycles of early spring really get started. Sunny days and cold nights help break open acorns, as well as a phalanx of black walnuts buried by forgetful squirrels. The snow, likewise, melts and freezes, and melts and refreezes again. Pete and Lottie slide around like a couple of fluffy hockey pucks, trying in vain for the bunny they flushed from the underbrush. Even bunny’s soft feet patter audibly on the icy crust as he easily outpaces a couple of enthusiastic but unserious Stabijhouns.
In fact, the crusted snow seems to make sound bounce around more loudly than usual. Halfway through our usual circuit of the walnut grove, the twitterpated pitter-pat of a Downy Woodpecker grabs my attention. Too small and flitter-headed to set up the snare-drum rhythm of his larger cousin, the Hairy Woodpecker, this little guy seems to have the woods to himself this evening. But it’s not really spring yet, and the sun is headed down, so Pete, Lottie and I leave the woodpecker to his drumline practice and the bunny to its sprint back to safety to head home ourselves.