Sunday, February 22, 2009

I'm trying not to check the weather very much. It's not that I want to be surprised and find that I really should have brought an umbrella to work, but I'm trying to remember that any nice days we have don't mean that spring is right around the corner, and that we're due for at least one or two more cold snaps before spring really kicks in and we can start herping again.

Obsessively checking the weather is part of my spring daily (hourly?) routine - checking to see if the weekend will feature nice herping weather, if I should run out of work a couple hours early to check for brown snakes (Storeria dekayi), if any weekdays are worth taking off... It can get to be a little nutty - checking the weather ten days out doesn't tell you very much since the forecast is so unreliable at that point, and checking the forecast on several websites several times per day doesn't give me much more useful information than checking one site once per day - it just freaks me out.

Of course on President's Day we had some pretty weather, with a high in the 40s and some sun. On a day I'd resigned myself to sitting at home and tackling a long to-do list of little tasks ignored in the previous week of illness (some flu the weekend before) and travel for work, I got a call from a herping buddy, a man hardier, more dedicated, more thoughtful, I suppose a better herper than I (can you see I'm beating myself up a little over this?) who had just found a bunch of spotted turtles (Clemmys guttata).

That news did nothing good for my mood, and seemed to push a button in me that links into a deep reservoir of repressed herping hunger/lust that's been accumulating since December. Jen asked me what was wrong, and all I could do was mutter angrily about the spotted turtles.

It's not entirely shocking that he found spotted turtles - they've been observed moving around at temps as low as 37 degrees - but it's not exactly something you'd bank on.

I had no time to run out and see spotted turtles myself (and indeed even if I did, I'd probably already missed a window of time around mid-day with the strongest sun of the day), but I did have time to run to the Mt. Moriah Cemetery, home to no turtles, but indeed to brown snakes and redback salamanders (Plethodon cinereus).

It was good to be out. However weak that sounds - "being out" on a trip to an urban cemetery - it was what I could do, and the two redbacks I found (at 39 degrees, I think my coldest redbacks so far) did scratch at least a little of my itch. As for next weekend, Saturday's supposed to be 44 and sunny. Worth a trip?