Spring, Just the word is enough to reawaken spirits which have been dormant through the cold and dark period of winter. Spring, when a young man's fancy turns....Spring, when the swallows come back to Capistrano.... Spring, when the rain in the Northwest finally warms up.
The news announced the official first day of spring on March 20 this year. The real world had known about it since January 26 when a lone Red-wing blackbird tuned up in the rushes in the south end of the Longmire Meadow. Evening grosbeaks were second in line on January 30 on the Alder Cut-off Road and February 17 in Elbe. The Grosbeaks indeed herald spring with their frequent flights from the roadsides up into the alders resembling yellow leaves trying to return to their places on winter's bare branches.
1984 has proven to be another low snowfall year in the lowlands which might explain why varied thrushes and robins arrived in Longmire on the same day, March 5. The more usual pattern is for the varied thrushes to precede robins by some weeks. This apparently reduces competition between these two similar ground feeders.
The last four "arrivals" confirmed what I had realized from the above sightings. A pika "eeked" exuberantly beside the Community Building as I jogged past, following my observation of a pair of dippers courting below the Longmire Bridge, both on the evening of March 15. On March 18 a pair of ducks flew out of the Longmire Meadow, probably disturbed by early morning walkers on the Trail of the Shadows. And, finally, on March 19 a Blue grouse walked into the road, picking gravel, at Narada Falls.
When the radio news announced the first day of spring I was delighted to finally have official confirmation. The votes had been coming in for six weeks.
We frequently talk about rain at Mount Rainier. The vast quantities of snow that fall on Paradise are almost casually referred to in hundreds of inches. The name, Mount Rainier is easily pronounced "Mount Rainy-er", and Longmire split to become "Long mire." To make these names seem even more appropriate, consider how many gallons of water are involved in the annual quantities of precipitation that fall on Longmire and Paradise.
In 1983, the total precipitation (rain and melted snow) recorded at Longmire was 86.96 inches; at Paradise, 130.11 inches. There are 277.42 cubic inches in one gallon, so we calculate that 45.14 gallons of water fell on each square foot of Longmire during 1983, and at Paradise, each square foot of ground received 67.54 gallons. No wonder the level of Alder Lake can rise and fall so dramatically in such a short period of time!
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