Monday, February 17, 2014

Clear but Cold

Behind Lumbago Way
Frozen mud flats
Spud Creek's frozen
 For most of the three weeks that I was in Juneau for jury duty, the weather was clear and very cold. For the better part of the first week I knew it was clear, but we couldn't see the blue sky above because of fog. It was so severe that the commercial jets were forced to fly over Juneau and of course there were no small commuter flights between Juneau and the outlying areas, which meant no mail or freight that would normally be sent via airplanes. Jan always gets a little claustrophobic when it gets like that. It's a terrible feeling to think that you can't get out of here if you need to. When I finally got back home, I decided to go out and get a few pictures of the mud flats that surround Garteeni Creek. The creek itself was still flowing somewhat and the Mallards and Canadian Honkers were availing themselves of whatever there was to eat in the stream. I've heard stories of ducks being frozen into the waters before. I don't know how often that happens, but I don't doubt that it does. I've often wondered how the poor buggers could stand to be in that ice cold water, then my friend, Chris Budke mentioned that the blood in the feet and legs of ducks isn't warm, it's already cool, but warm enough to keep them from freezing. I believe they don't have as much blood traveling to the feet either, but obviously there's enough. I always feel bad for the animals who live outside in this foul weather. I guess they're prepared for it.  I know I sure wouldn't last long out in the cold. I whine when it gets below fifty. All the more reason to live in Alaska- we have so many tropical days. I find it amazing that it can get so cold that it freezes the salt water, but somehow the mosquitoes manage to escape harm all winter. What is that about? As soon as it warms up sufficiently, they hatch and fly around looking for a tasty morsel to munch on. It's even more amazing when you consider that further north where it gets many degrees below zero for much of the winter, the bugs still hatch, and in such numbers that they've been known to drive moose crazy. I guess that's part of the reason so many ducks and shore birds work their way up north every year, so they can fill up on the larvae. I think we should be breeding extra large ducks that can take advantage of all the chow. We could use the same technology that the folks who make Rolaids use. They used to advertise them as able to absorb forty seven times their weight in excess stomach acid. If each duck or shore bird could eat forty seven times it's weight in mosquito larvae, I would imagine that in a few years the bug problem would be solved. Of course if all the bugs were gone, they might turn their sights on other things to eat. If you thought it was bad being bitten my a mosquito, try being bitten by a Mallard; it might
present a problem. Guess we should just leave well enough alone.

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