I was trying hard to find blessings in the sub-zero weather we've been enduring here on the northern plains. The answer came this morning when I turned, once again, to Aldo Leopold, the great ecologist and essayist who grew up on the same stretch of the Mississippi River as I did in Burlington, Iowa. "The months of the year are a geometric progression in the abundance of distractions. In January one may follow a skunk track, or search for bands on the chickadees, or see what young pines the deer have browsed, or what muskrat houses the mink have dug, with only an occasional and mild digression into other doings. January observation can be almost as simple and peaceful as snow, and almost as continuous as cold. There is time not only to see who has done what, but to speculate why." Looks like I'll be venturing into my backyard today for a relatively distraction-free look at what's there and why. By the way, that's my copy of Sand County Alamanc, and that's the rubber band that holds it together. Happy January, everyone! Happy observation!