2006-03-24 06:42:03.000 – Neil Lareau,  Observer

With the equinox past, the sun is now conspicuous in its daytime elevation. At least it was in the valley over the past week. On the summit I’m told it has been a rare sight.

Beneath the intensifying sun, giver of life, the slow parade of spring is underway. One signifier that stood out during my week off was the return of Turkey Vultures to northern New England. Seemingly omnipresent during the summer months, it was refreshing to see these carrion kings again wobbling in their pronounced dihedral overhead. Dependent upon thermals to provide lift and conserve precious energy while scavenging, their presence alone speaks to the increased solar gain and widening diurnal cycle characteristic to spring. Other raptors too have begun to return northward. In fact Jim had a hawk fly within feet of him on the summit a few days ago. Soon there will be a frenzy of avian activity.

In related fashion, Tim made note of the same reality while on the observation deck. With the cloud tops a few hundred feet above and the disk of the sun dimly visible through the fog, it was observed that the snow on the deck was melting in places. The air temperature was 20 degrees. The explanation is direct solar heating of surfaces, even through the fog. This was not possible a month ago.

With the progression toward spring, there seems to come a feeling of liberation as the landscape and its inhabitants literally and figuratively shed the weight of winter. Yet in a celestial act of symmetry, now is the time for the closing in of the season across the southern half of the globe. Nowhere is this more poignantly felt than at the South Pole, where former summit crew member Jeff De Rosa now resides. Reading Jeff’s ruminations it is clear that the weight and introspection of darkness and cold are now beginning in earnest…
As the sun made its last appearance of the year Jeff writes,

“And thus the true power of this place dwells not in objects that can successfully be photographed, nor explicated with meager words; but rather the psychological reforming that I’ll most certainly identify with my time here.”

Read more of Jeff’s writing at


Neil Lareau,  Observer

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