I stepped outside my door yesterday morning and realized that there was a sizable spot of bare ground out there, off to the side of the main trail to the steps. In front of the steps there's still an inch or two of ice - don't worry, it's not slippery, it's too pitted to be slippery.
Now that's not the first bare ground to show up; the first one was under the exhaust of the generator, which sits on top of the doghouse. Putting it there for the winter is tons easier than trying to keep a hole dug out for it on the ground, and the exhaust keeps the snow 'down wind' melted to a distance of roughly three or four feet and the top of the doghouse is easy to scrape off.
Back to the real melted spot. So far it is the only spot of bear ground that I know of. I'm sure there are more. Places like under the big spruce trees always have less snow and at the rate of melt I'm sure the bare ground around those trees is growing daily. I also saw that the four-wheeler no longer has snow on top of it, but the snow around it is still every bit as deep as the four-wheeler is tall - around waist deep there, give or take a few inches.
Other trails: the trail down to the fuel drums now looks like a trail in new snow, if you ignore the dirt darkening the snow in that trail. You see, the new snowfall we had a little while ago is still white, but where it was disturbed the dirt underneath was found by the sun that has been shining for weeks nice and warm every day. The darkness of the dirt absorbs the sun's heat and melts the snow faster than the white of new snow, so since the trail down to the fuel drums is pointed primarily in the same direction as rays of the at it's hottest, it had become a bit of a trench. The trail to the outhouse or the freezer are both sideways to that source of heat and so are melting sideways. The said dirt, visible in all trails, melts the snow to the side, each fleck of dirt moving to the north a tiny bit every day, thus creating a false trail, so to speak. Now, if I were to walk where the trail appears like it should be, I would quickly be wading in snow that is still more than knee deep. However, walking on the packed part of the trail isn't easy. It too has been 'burned' sideways by the angle of the sun's rays. Yeah, it's interesting walking around out there these days.
Last night, it started raining, and it is raining still, now the clock around. I know 'rain' means many different thing to different people. If you live in Texas, rain comes down in buckets and can cause flash floods, an interesting detail found only occasionally in western novels. Here such a goose-drowner happens only once in a great while. Our normal rain is sure to get a stroller wet, and driving an open boat in the rain is highly unpleasant but all in all, it's rather pleasant if you don't have to be out in it.
The rain, nice as it might be, does complicate my problem with walking around outside. Since it didn't freeze last night, and likely won't again tonight, getting to the fuel drums for my little can of gas might be interesting. I may have to plan on wet feet tomorrow morning. Then again, it may work out better than I think it will. I like little surprises like that.
Now that the rains are falling and the nights aren't freezing, one more step towards spring has been covered. That's not to say there won't be more freezing nights but they are numbered I'm sure. Any time now I'll be seeing small flecks of green and I'm not talking about the perma-green trees.