Mornings come much earlier now. We’ve gained more than 90 minutes of morning daylight since the solstice. Soon sap will begin rising in the maple trees and sugaring season will be upon us.
All winter we have noticed the remains of raptors alongside the highway; this is unusual. On Sunday we drove home from a visit with family. In the late afternoon, as we drove west, a large raptor swooped down and across the highway. It successfully negotiated the two southbound lanes, narrowly missed a collision with a car in the first northbound lane, then was struck broadside by the car ahead of us. Traffic was flowing along at about 70 MPH, and there was nothing anyone could do to avoid the collision.
The raptor crumbled into a ball of feathers with wings, tumbled through space, and crashed onto the roadway; then we were past it. We watched helplessly as these events unfolded, our hearts aching for all concerned.
Highways are marvelous hunting grounds for raptors and other predictors. We frequently notice hawks, and occasionally owls, sitting in trees, watching the landscape along the roadway. Broad highways provide an almost ideal interface between ecotones and are given to an abundance of small mammals, the preferred prey of many overwintering carnivores. They also come with very real hazards.
Driving the remaining miles home, we were reminded that whether we wish to, or not, and for better or worse, we humans have a great and lasting impact on our cousins in the natural world. Now that we have entered an age of chaos, in which the dark forces within humanity threaten to destroy much that nurtures and supports us, these impacts seem destined to increase.
In the few minutes I have been writing the sky has turned darker and more threatening, the early morning descending into a roiling mass of gray. The forecast is for clearing, but at the moment this change in weather seems distant.