The Subnivean Zone

We got a little over a foot of snow about a week ago. It felt like we got about a foot of rain yesterday. All the snow is gone except for the big piles in parking lots. It seems like that’s the way winter works now. We get some snow, but it doesn’t hang around very long.

It wasn’t always this way. When I was a kid, we’d get snow starting in late December/early January, and there would be a blanket of snow on the ground until late March/early April. It’s been a decade since that happened. I miss it.

It turns out there’s a scientific name for that snow blanket. It’s called the subnivean zone. That’s the space within the snow where small animals live for the winter. I learned that on The Wild Kratts (@TheKrattBros). I get the appeal of tropical rainforests and coral reefs, but, for me, there’s something especially fascinating about the nature that I experience in my day to day life. There’s always been a thrill when I find some animal tracks or a nest or a burrow. It’s great to see what the mice and voles do when in the privacy of their own homes.

I don’t have anything big to say about the subnivean zone, just that it makes me sad that there isn’t one in my back yard anymore. I know I could drive north for a little while and find one, but the disappearance of that everyday experience is a real loss. I know there are myriad pressing reasons to address climate change, but in a lot of ways, the loss of the subnivean zone has hit me the hardest.

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