Large Flakes?

Looking out the window this afternoon, I saw huge snowflakes. Or were they leaves? But they were floating so easily, like snow. More and more flakes came down, and yet, not enough to say, “It’s snowing,” and besides, it was just a tad too warm. Something didn’t feel right. I went to investigate.

I picked up some of the “snowflakes” and saw that they were feathers. They kept falling from the sky. I thought of the German folk tale about Frau Holle who shakes the featherbeds (goosedown duvets, in our modern western world) in the sky and makes it snow.

I traced the path of the feathers to their origin and strained my eyes to study the top reaches of a fir tree. For a few minutes I saw nothing, but at last I made the culprit nervous.

A huge eagle took off from the tree with its dinner in its talons.

I knew from the feathers that the eagle’s meal was a duck. The harsh reality of  life and death in the animal food chain always leaves me with mixed feelings. Both are beautiful birds, but why does one have to eat the other? Couldn’t they just eat pancakes instead?

 

 

Early Winter

On Wednesday I came home from a trip to Olympia, Washington. The maple tree in my yard had dropped a thick carpet of leaves which the Captain scooped up with the mower for mulch, hence the bare driveway. 

Thursday morning started with a bluebird sky and by mid-morning, the wind changed and we had a blizzard. But the snow wouldn’t cover the ground … would it?

Before noon, this was my front yard. I was SO glad I wasn’t driving home today instead of yesterday.

And this morning the bluebird sky is back, but the mountains are white and the air is still icy cold. I put more birdseed out but I still feel sorry for the little animals that have to live outside.

I hope it isn’t going to be a harsh winter. This snow is WAY too early.

What is the weather doing where you live?

Pane Pain

The birds know that summer is over and it is time to go south. They don’t like to be too cold anymore than I do, and it’s hard to find food  if there is snow on the ground. Even cold rain doesn’t make it a hospitable environment for providing seeds and/or insects for birds to eat.

The air is fairly vibrating with birdsong, as the birds gather in ever growing flock numbers to eat like crazy and do little practice flights in preparation for the big trip  south.

Unfortunately, with so much activity many of the birds try to fly through my windows, thinking there is a flight path to the other side of the house. It breaks my heart and sometimes their necks or wings, when they hit. The guilt I feel is huge.

After hearing three thumps on my windows in a short space of time, I found a bar of soap and drew lines over the panes so the birds could see that there is a barrier in their flight path.

One little warbler type had hit a corner window just before I soaped it. He had a soft landing on a deck chair cushion. He stayed there for several hours. I worried and felt so bad for him as I watched his tiny traumatized wings quiver.

Then, apparently the time was right. He pooped and flew away. I hope he doesn’t have a bad headache. I’m so glad he survived.

Are We Hungry?

When I went outside in the bitter cold the other day to refill the birdfeeders and put out more suet, I was surprised that there were no birds around. I wondered if a hawk had passed by to bully them. I refilled the feeders anyway, and hung more suet in the wire cage along with the half finished suet block. As I worked I heard one bird tell another, “She’s bringing fresh food,” and another bird answering, “I know, I know. I see!”

It reminded me of standing in a Chinese smorgasbord line-up, looking at the dregs of a pan of … something … and then seeing the waitress bring over a new steaming hot pan of fresh chow mein.

As soon as I left the birdfeeder area, a flock of tiny birds (bushtits, I think) came to the suet and covered the whole block with their hungry little bodies. When I looked back I couldn’t even see the suet block, only a swarm of feathers. I think now, that maybe the suet had frozen and was hard to pick at. It was that cold. The fresh block was not frozen and everyone ate well that night. My photo shows only six of the birds, but I’m sure there were more than ten or twelve on the suet in those first moments after I left.
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Harshest winter, freezing cold,

Tests survival of the bold.

Icy winds pierce feathers fine

As the tiny creatures dine.

They know they’ll die if they can’t eat

So at the feeder they all meet.

New suet hangs there in the wire

Perhaps their fate is not so dire,

Internal furnaces will warm

The bodies of the little swarm.

They’ll live to see another day

And soon the spring will come to stay.

 

Winter Apples

As it snowed heavily all around today, the Captain brought in some of this fall’s apples we had stored in our workshop. How bright they look against the snow. I think the smaller red one on the left is a MacIntosh, and the other three are called Wilmuta, which is a cross between Jonagold and Gravenstein. The Wilmuta is a great winter apple. It matures in October and keeps well in a cool place. What a treat to see them today in a January snowfall. The rest of my garden is asleep under the snow, but the apples are still edible after a sleep in the workshop.

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What sleeps in winter garden beds?

Some kale and wilted lettuce heads,

Carrots tasty, shriveled chard,

In soil that’s frozen very hard.

The chives are shivering with cold,

But in the springtime they’ll be bold

And send up shoots that say to me

Your salad’s where I’d like to be.

One day the sun will warm the soil

And Anne-li will go out and toil

Turning over weedy dirt

While working in her short-sleeved shirt.

She’s anxiously awaiting spring

So she can go and do her thing.

 

 

 

Cold Sunshine

The Captain and I had to make a trip up island the other day. It would be a long day so we took a picnic lunch and stopped by the roadside on the way home. Where we parked, several picnic benches were available but there was a chance our rear ends could freeze to the bench, so we stayed in the car where it was cozy. We had a fantastic view, sunshine, and the warmth of the car while we had our sandwiches and V-8 juice.

This was the view looking north towards Campbell River, on Vancouver Island. You can see the south end of town on the left, and in the distance you can see the snow-covered Coast Range which is on the BC mainland.

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Looking straight ahead from the comfort of our car, this was the view we had while we ate our lunch. These mountains are also part of the Coast Range, on the BC mainland.

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The waters were calm and the sun was shining, but it was hard to find a warm spot. Who knew that sunshine could be so cold?

A Cold Blanket

How often have we heard the expression, “A blanket of snow”? But how warm is this blanket? NOT VERY!

A chilly blanket settles down

On every surface in the town.

The hills and valley shiver too,

Of drivers there are just a few.

Daring shoppers venture out

Their cars and trucks slide all about.

We’ll just get used to all this snow

And then the rain will make it go.

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The sun is doing its best to warm up the ice blanket but I think it won’t be successful today. More snow is coming before the usual rain is back.

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