Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The 2015 Blizzard That Wasn't -- And the Geese and Ducks Stake Out Their Claim


The geese and ducks decide to ride out the "epic and historical blizzard" on Monday.
"What's a little snow? We can handle it!"
Pretty as a picture. No finer season in Central Park than winter.
"It might as well be spring!" I say.
Yesterday, the geese and ducks staked out their claim to small open water pool in middle of otherwise frozen Reservoir. They take turns swimming and resting.
"OK, guys, time to get to work!"
"Bring on the freeze! We are prepared!"
 
Instead of listening to the weather experts and entirely shutting down New York City, Mayor deBlasio would have done better to pay attention to the geese.
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When going to Central Park on Monday during the midst of fast falling snow, I was convinced there would be no geese and ducks at the Reservoir.  After all, the mayor had warned about an "epic and historical blizzard," the likes of which New Yorkers "had never seen before."
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Pretty heady stuff for sure.
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Of course deBlasio had also warned New Yorkers to stay out of city parks during the storm, but neither I nor many other people paid attention to that.  As long as the parks were open, many of us were going.
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But, what about the geese and ducks?  Usually, before any major weather event, the birds pack up their wings and leave.
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Imagine my shock when discovering most of the geese and ducks were still at the Reservoir! 
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While it was clear some of the birds had indeed departed, it appeared the decision of the majority was to stay and tough out the storm.
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A thought then ran through the back of my mind.
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Maybe the storm isn't going to be as bad as predicted?
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Since I had never known the geese and ducks to stay just prior to any significant storm, the thought didn't seem so far fetched. -- Rather, it gave comfort.
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Moreover, the falling snow and then blanketed park seemed to buffer and subdue the normally biting sting of the cold. The air felt strangely calm and almost warm and inviting. It was perhaps the most comfortable I had felt in the park in weeks.
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As matters turned out, it was the geese and ducks who were right and the National Weather Service -- and the mayor wrong.
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New York City received only 9.8 inches of snow -- far less than the 24 to 30 inches predicted.
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Yesterday, when giving another press conference, deBlasio appeared somewhat irritated -- as if embarrassed that the plain, old ordinary snow storm didn't turn out to be the cataclysmic catastrophe he had predicted. When asked by a reporter, if New York City was "going soft," the testy mayor responded, "As a child, I did walk barefoot through the snow, so I share some of that concern. I think it's not softness to respond to extreme weather."
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Aside from learning that deBlasio's mother apparently didn't buy him shoes or boots, the mayor's definition of "extreme weather" seems in itself, extreme.
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Just ask the geese and ducks who, surely sensing what was about to come, elected to stoically stay and wait it out. 
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Yesterday, when returning to Central Park following the "epic and historical" event, the geese and ducks had simply returned to their familiar behaviors when facing challenging weather and fast freezing watercourses.
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They have evidently chosen a particular open water spot near the North Gate House to stake out their claim. Alternating and cooperating with each other, the birds are working somewhat tirelessly at swimming in the small, open pool to maintain and keep it moving.
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That task will presumably become much harder over the coming days as temperatures are predicted by weather forecasters to dive even further to single digits next week.
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But, for now, the geese, mallards and few coots have made calculated decision to stay and tough it out.
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Should I note the resilient water birds suddenly giving up the cause and leaving, I will know then that the weather is seriously about to go to hell.
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Truth is, "We don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows" (to quote Dylan).
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We just need to observe the behavior of the geese -- and their working pals, the mallards. -- PCA
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