wordsfromanneli

Thoughts, ideas, photos, and stories.


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Make the Best of it

I know I’ve been moaning and groaning about the snow and how hard it is for the tiny hummingbirds and other little creatures who have to try to survive in the snow and cold.

But for those of you who can shut that dilemma out of your head, you may want to make the best of this snowy weather.

If you have access to a ski hill, you can do that (if you’re still young enough to take advantage of this vigorous pastime).

 

At the top of the chairlift, have a look around and enjoy the crisp air. Take in the vastness of the valley below. Do you feel small?

 

Forget about birds that want to land on a branch. They are gone from this frozen place, leaving it all to you.

 

Pure and clean! And now for an exhilarating ride to the bottom of the hill.  Swish! … Don’t fall.

Photos by Pat Gerrie

British Columbia


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A Harsh Surprise

The skiff of snow we had the other day was just the prelude to get us in tune for the magnum opus.

Some snow for Christmas was a fine seasonal touch, even if it was a bit hard on the birds, but the snowfall we had in the last two days, coupled with a drastic drop in temperatures and an increase in NW wind – well, let’s just say I’m praying for the return of my old friends, wind and rain.

Since the Arctic winds are coming from the north or northwest, I decided to put more birdseed on the leeward side of the house. Out of the wind, the picnic blanket won’t blow away or freeze to the ground as readily.

So, not being particularly house proud, I sprinkled bird seed liberally by my front door and in the dry edges near the house on the south and east sides.

Emma can’t believe her eyes. So many birds. You know she’s a “bird dog” but that is not supposed to apply to songbirds. She’s in shock that birds are right there on the other side of the glass – you know, that glass beside the door where she always looks out when she’s left behind.

“Wow!” she says. “A varied thrush!” And she tells herself to stop drooling.

“Oh, it’s you again,” says Vera Thrush. “You should stop poking your nose into the glass pane. You’re mucking it all up with noseprints.”

“On second thought,” thinks Vera, “I should maybe check out another area and come back later when that maniac killer dog is having a nap. But … does she ever sleep?” Vera turns to go. “Better safe than sorry…. Hmmpf! Can’t believe I said that. Such a cliché.”

Vera’s feathers fluff up soft,

Keeping warmer air aloft

Trapped beside her chilly skin,

She will not let winter in.

 

Hard to fathom so much cold,

Although pretty to behold,

But the chill is not a thrill,

It is often known to kill.

 

Thankfully, the seeds are spread,

All around the front door tread,

Even though they don’t belong,

Matters more that we stay strong.

 

First comes need and then decor,

Later we’ll clean up the door,

But we’ll wait till Emma’s busy

So she won’t get in a tizzy.

 

All these seeds are such a gift

Hard to find them in a drift,

Front door feeding works just fine,

Think I’ll grab some, make them mine.

 

 

 


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The Reluctant Fireplace

This huge stone fireplace was meant to give comfort on a chilly evening. Originally it was without the gas insert. The firebox was roomy and deep and the wood fire gave a cozy feeling. The problem was that just on that kind of night when the wind was howling and the rain pelting down, the chimney allowed gusts to blast down it, blowing smoke back into the house.

A gas fireplace insert was the solution. We decided on a Jotul brand, which allowed for the best fit, and prepared the gas lines and the electric cables for running the fan.

The next step was to install the Jotul insert that the company ordered for us. When it arrived, so did trouble. It had been damaged in shipping.

“No problem,” they told us. “We’ll order another one from our supplier’s warehouse. It’ll be here in less than a week.”

“That’s okay,” we said. “It’s only March, and summer is coming. We just want it to be ready for when winter comes.”

The big day came, sometime in April. Time to unload it. “Oops! This one is damaged too. We’ll order another one, but there are no more in the warehouse; it will have to come from Maine. It could take a couple of weeks.”

The stove arrived, and …. Yup! You guessed it. It was damaged in transit. Another stove was ordered. Now we had to get in line. Seems there was a backup on orders.

Finally, in late July, the stove arrived — right in the middle of our big heat wave. But at least, this time, it was not damaged.

To burn off the  new metal and some of the chemicals from the stove, we let it run for a few minutes. All the while, our air conditioner was working overtime to compensate.

But at last, we had the prospect of some cozy winter mornings by the fire.

It only took four months. I’m glad we started early.


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Everyone Knows it’s Windy

The fir trees in the photo below are used to bending away from the prevailing southeast winds. The bay is loaded in whitecaps, a sure sign that only fools would go out there in a small boat. No fools visible today.

It blew so hard today that the firs in my backyard suffered in spite of being partly sheltered behind my house. When the rain let up somewhat, I went outside to take a picture of the branch that broke in the wind today. Apparently the rain hadn’t quite stopped, as you can see from the big drop that fell right in the middle of my camera lens. I was going to try to edit it out, but then I thought, “No, this is part of the picture. It was wet out there.”

If you look to the left of the tree closest to you, near the middle, you can see that a branch is near the ground, but still hanging on the tree. It is broken and hanging by a thread way up high. See the birdhouse on the tree? Go up about the same distance again as the birdhouse is from ground level and you will see the break.

Here is a close-up of the top of that broken branch.

I guess I could try swinging on the branch like Tarzan and it would come off, but if it broke mid-swing, that might not be too much fun.

Branches flying everywhere,

Look! A sliding patio chair,

Time to get some firewood,

Raining, so put up your hood,

Fir cones pelt the woodshed roof,

Put your hard hat on, you goof.

Quickly, fill that barrow now,

Gusts of wind are screaming – “Wow!”

Push the wood up to the house,

Knowing you’ve exposed a mouse,

Hiding by the firewood stack

She resettles farther back.

Birds are huddling in a shrub,

Dangerous to come out for grub.

Just get through this awful night,

Tomorrow things will be all right.


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Winter’s Frosty Breath

It’s only October, but this farm scene would make a perfect Christmas card.

The shrubs in the distance have a frosting on them that is making the little ground squirrels living under them shiver.

Here is plenty of fuel to keep someone warm – someone far away, wherever this train is going.

The clumps of sagebrush and other grasses have been coated by winter’s frosty breath, giving them a designer look.

Did you ever mix up powdered laundry soap and water with an egg-beater and then dab the “snow” you made onto your Christmas tree? Then the decorations would be hung once the soapy snow had dried. These trees reminded me of doing that as a child. (I apologize for mentioning Christmas so early.)

The wintery air brings out the elves

They wait for dark or fog

So they can better hide themselves

Behind a nearby log.

The head elf orders laundry soap

The powdered kind is best

They spit in it and then they hope

That this will pass the test.

The soapy snow must be so thick

That it won’t dribble down

It must be right so it will stick

And give the tree its gown.

With sagey brush, like tiny brooms

They paint each branch with snow

The night is short, a new day looms

And all the elves must go.

If I’d been passing by last night

I’m sure I would have seen

But I’d have given them a fright

And I can’t be that mean.

And so I’ll just admire their trees

That look so pure and white

The elves are happy when they please

And know they’ve done it right.


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What a Difference a Day Makes

Driving along beside the Comox estuary yesterday, I nearly disrupted traffic in my panic to pull off the road to take a picture. I hadn’t expected the sunset to be so spectacular over the glacier. For that matter, I hadn’t SEEN the glacier for days and days with all the cloud cover.

Next to the glacier are the bumps in the hills that the locals have called The Sleeping Princess. Unfortunately I can’t be sure which shapes represent which features of her lying there. But it’s fun to imagine.

Not even 24 hours later, we have a complete change in the weather. No more lovely sunset; just a total whiteout. My backyard with its gnarly fruit trees looks like a black and white photo.

Emma has to check out what this white stuff is.

She’s amazed at how much of it is coming down.

The warmth of sun behind the hills

Is fine for curing winter chills

But who could know the change ahead

Birds shake feathers, snow to shed,

Yesterday they picked and ate,

Now with snow, their breakfast’s late.

Giant snowflakes blanket all

How I miss the robin’s call.

Emma likes a powdery run

But the cold is not much fun,

She’s content to sniff the deck

Wondering just “What the heck?

Think I’ll go back where it’s warm

Where they’ll pet my sleeping form.

There I’ll wait till winter’s done

And we see the warm spring sun.”

 

 


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The Holly and the Maple

No, it’s not “The Holly and the Ivy,” but close enough. I noticed that the maple’s leaves got hung up on the holly tree below it, and the muse tickled the keyboard once again.

The maple sheds a coat that weaves

And floats towards the ground,

Hanging up on prickly leaves

Of holly all around.

 

The holly says, “I thank you, dear,

I’m shivering with cold.

When winter nights are chill and clear

Your leaves my warmth will hold.

 

And decorated, too, am I

Just like a Christmas tree.

My berries red will catch the eye

And all will look at me.

 

But you, dear maple, what of you?

Your scrawny arms are chill.

There’s nothing more that you can do.

So pray for you, I will.

 

Be steadfast through the winter gale,

Be tough as you can be,

Till new green leaves your arms regale

With pride and majesty.”

 

 

 

 


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It’s Time

The autumn days are nearing their end. Nights are colder. Even though this coming week is one last promise of warmer weather, we know it can’t last. The RV park is emptying out. It’s soon time to go home.

It’s been a treat,

But where’s the heat?

A week’s reprieve

Will cold relieve,

The sun’s last rays 

Of autumn days

Will soon be gone

And cold comes on.

It’s time to go

Before the snow,

Back home to rain

And rain and rain.


57 Comments

Wild Winds

For days and days and days and days we lived in an atmosphere as thick as pea soup.

And then the wind picked up. It blew the fog away and delivered some hefty, hefty rain clouds. My house is near the end of that spit of land on the left, in that gap between the trees, but looking out the other way towards Comox Bay.  The beach in these photos is not far away but it gets hammered much harder by the wind.

See the foam that has piled up on the beach like whipping cream that has blown off the frothing tops of the waves.

Anyone for a little boat ride today? Surfing might be okay except for the many rocks on this beach.

This lonely seagull probably can’t decide where he wants to go but it doesn’t matter because it’s unlikely he’ll get there today anyway. He will go where the winds take him.

More foam collects on the beach. At night those fish who have legs come ashore and gather this whipping cream to put on their “sponge” cake for dessert.

“Careful,” hollers the Captain. “Stay off those logs. They’re “slicker’n snot on a doorknob,” he announces crudely.

“Aye, aye, Cap’n! Aaarrrh haaarrrh.

Brisk and wild and wonderful

The sea spray soaks my face

I gasp for air that whooshes past

With giant strength and pace.

I lift the camera in the wind

Don’t want to lose my grip

I brace myself against the sway

As if I’m on a ship.

The lens is spattered, droplets run,

No way to keep it dry.

I click the pictures anyway

And whoop and gasp and cry.

The wind is strong,  I need to hold 

The car door safely tight.

I ease inside and yell out, “Wow!

I thought I might take flight.”

 

 


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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?