March Towards Spring

March 12th, 2013 in Yukon Plants & Animals

Winter is beginning to lose its dark icy grip on the North. Everywhere obviously is still under its winter blanket of snow and while out walking we can hear the ice on the river make cracking noises, and our feet still squeak on the bone dry snow.

March brings with it the spring equinox, and the promise of longer days. We are already experiencing eleven hours of daylight. March is a magical month, with clear intense blue cloudless skies, bright sunshine, and the hint of warmer days. The nights are still cold, with the outlines of the mountains being highlighted against the dark starry skies. March is often one of the better months for viewing the aurora borealis. Ours is such a wonderful location in which to view it, as there is no light pollution to mar its spectacular light show. I remember the first time I saw the phenomenon, and lay transfixed under a blanket on a picnic table just gazing up at the mesmerising dancing shapes and colours!

Nature amazes us all, and is especially fascinating here where the plants and animals have to adapt to extremes in temperature. Our area has one the largest swings in temperature anywhere in the world. Winter temperatures can plummet to 70 below freezing and reach in excess of 100 degrees in the summer. Many of the animals that live here have two types of hair to aid their winter survival. The outer coat is a layer of long hollow hair, to provide insulation, and to aid them in swimming. The hair closer to the body is finer and becomes very thick during the winter to retain heat. Even our small house dogs, grow a really thick coat of fine hair close to their skin, which is shed as the weather improves.