Ice and Fog

We may not have extreme cold conditions on the coast, for which I am ever so thankful, but we have a damp kind of cold weather that seems to seep right through to the marrow.

These past few days several weather changes have occurred. First, it was almost springlike as the perma-grayness of the sky cleared one day and we caught  glimpse of the sun so far south and low on the horizon that I knew it was still shining hard on Mexico. This glimpse brought several large flocks of robins to our area. They were busy turning over fallen maple leaves, and picking at the odd bug on the ground, but mostly they were after anything that looked like a red berry. Pyracantha, viburnum, mountain ash, cotoneaster, and holly–they didn’t care what it was as long as it was round and red.

Then the fog rolled in and the robins sat in the trees like ghosts.

Not quite a partridge in a pear tree, but robins in a plum tree.

Not quite a partridge in a pear tree, but robins in a plum tree.

The next day it was a bit chillier and still the fog covered the land like an ice blanket.

The following day, the fog was still here. Perfect setting for a spooky movie as darkness settled in. The temperature dropped another degree or two and the air was raw.

By morning the dampness had settled on every surface and frozen in place.

Fennel in the fog

Fennel in the fog

I leave my herb garden in a mess in the fall ever since I saw a few desperate songbirds picking at seeds  one winter. I thought it makes no difference to me if I cut plants back and tidy up in the fall or in the spring, but it makes a big difference to the birds. This fennel has only seeds left and those should be dark brown. If they look white here, it’s only because of the ice that has frozen on each seed.

Iced up fennel seeds

Iced up fennel seeds

A bird would find nothing to eat here as long as the frost covered the seeds.

When the small twigs of trees and shrubs freeze like this, it makes browsing very hard for the deer. Chewing on icicles is not very nourishing or warming.

Icy twigs

Icy twigs

These are not necessarily a deer’s favourite twigs to eat, but I hoped to show how they ice up when the fog has wet them and then the temperature drops. It’s hunger days for the animals. Time to put out the birdseed and cracked corn.

22 thoughts on “Ice and Fog

    • I confess that the first year it was laziness, and when a foot of snow covered everything and the birds were hopping around on the snow picking at the seeds, I realized I should have been leaving things as they are all along. So now I do my cleanup in the spring. Most true gardeners will be horrified, I’m sure.

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  1. What fantastic photos… depicting an awful looking cold… our weather here is so changeable.. I cannot remember ever having to don a jersey in January, yet this year I have had to… but at the same time the rain has fallen such, that we are having floods in some areas of the country… Our big rivers are all in flood, which does not bode well for our neighbour country Mozambique that has the huge flat areas where these rivers spread to miles in area..
    I love that you have left the garden for the poor birds and animals… such a wonderful thing to do… as for the poor Robin in the plum tree, they look cold… Love your post…

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  2. Thanks so much, Rob. I think it’s great that we can learn about each other’s countries through our blogs.I feel sorry for the people who live on floodplains, especially if they have no choice about it.

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  3. Gorgeous photos, Anneli! Unlike you, I just see the beauty of the frost. I never think of the impact on the wildlife ~ shame on me. I’ll better my ways, I promise. Great post, as always. X

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  4. Love those filigree winter pictures. Here it’s too cold to go outside and take pictures. And when it warms up, the dead plants don´t look so pretty anymore. Then it’s time to cut the old stuff back to let the plant grow again. When I started to cut back some of the plants last fall, I saw many ladybugs hiding underneath the bushes. I decided then to leave it as it is, for them to have some protection from the cold.

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    • The birds will love you for that, letting the bugs grow for them. I hope they don’t get too many ladybugs but I’m sure there are lots of other types too, that I’m happy for the birds to eat. And I know you feed the birds too. That’s really great.

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  5. I think that’s a typical city girl reaction. We are the products of our environment. If I had grown up in a city and not been exposed to nature so much, I’d be just the same as you and millions of others. But being a small-town girl, married to an outdoorsman, I’ve always loved the outdoors and the animals in it, and become aware of the animals’ habits. I can never look at snow, no matter how pretty it is, and only think, “Oh that’s beautiful.” My first thought is usually, “Oh the poor birds. What will they eat? How will they keep warm?” Happy to have you visiting, Nicky. Keep checking in. Maybe we’ll turn you into a nature girl after all.

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  6. I haven’t heard any more cougar reports. I think they’ve probably gone back to the lower hills, but we still don’t put Ruby outside in the dark unless we’re out there too. It’s better to be safe. I wouldn’t want to be a deer out there though. I’m sure they pick off the odd one.

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  7. Lovely pictures. You found beauty in the cold “nothingness” of a coastal winter. I must remember to leave my herbs for the birds instead of cleaning them up in the fall. Thanks for your blog.

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  8. Beautiful fog, especially with the big trees, but the ice doesn’t look very cozy. Did you know that during the little ice age Londoners would let the birds into their houses when it got really cold? Quite remarkable on both sides.
    In the first picture of fennel, is that a garden ornament or a frozen fowl?

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  9. You’re the first to notice it! Ha ha, it’s not a frozen bird, but since it hasn’t moved, it well could be. It’s a metal cast of a heron. I kind of like him in the herb garden. He looks better there in the summertime. Interesting story about the birds in the houses of Londoners. How nice! (Except for the droppings….)

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  10. We also leave the plant clean-up until spring. Also we leave the grass tall before winter so the deer will have a little under the snow if they need it. THis year the turkeys ate it instead. A week ago a neighbor gave me several pounds of tallow and that has made some pretty happy birds too!

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