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.”
A few nights ago, while I snuggled under the covers, the outside world was also being put under a cover — from freshly fallen snow.
The hummingbird feeder I had taken down to be out of the wind on the exposed deck, was no longer nestled among the branches that the birds used to love to sit on. (See the photo below). It had become a snow trap. Any bird venturing into the maze of bent down boughs might get a snow shower which, in the case of a tiny hummingbird, could be fatal. I had some work to do but I fixed up a place for the hummingbirds to feed safely.
The regular birdfeeders needed a place that was safe from the Steller’s jays who would gobble up the whole contents of the feeder. I had found a place in the branches of the filbert (hazelnut) tree. But then it snowed. Can you find the feeder to the left of the tree trunk and about four feet off the ground? The birds were happy to scratch up spilled seeds under the tree.
The Steller’s jay is quite the bully no matter where I put the seeds.
Pretty as the snow is, I worry about my poor little animals out there, scratching for enough food to keep warm and stay alive.
We’ve had crazy weather here lately with lots of wind and rain, but up in the hills, that rain took the form of snow. You can see that the freezing level is still fairly high, so we’ve been spared the snow for a while yet.
So while it snowed up high, it rained down low, but then the sun came out.
And with it came a friend of mine, Mr. Roy G. Biv.
But you must be wondering who Roy G. Biv is. Well, let me introduce you to him in the photo below.
Roy G. Biv is a colourful guy. If you take the first letters of his name, you’ll be able to remember all the colours of the rainbow in the order that they appear in the sky.
After weeks of hot, dry weather, the cooler days of autumn are so welcome. The grass that was yellow and breaking off if anyone walked on it, is breathing a huge sigh of relief. With each little rainfall, it has greened up slightly. Now, it is getting a really good soaking as the skies opened up and torrents of water dumped out.
And of course, I ran for the shovel when this rainbow appeared. I’m still looking for that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
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.
At a certain time of the evening, the last rays of the sun paint a golden glow on the tall firs. We call it “the nice light” when that happens. The morning light is similar, but the glow isn’t as warm as the evening light.
Yesterday was like a usual West Coast winter’s day. Wind and rain, followed by rain and wind.
This morning it looked like Christmas on the hills. Luckily we don’t live up in the hills.
The air is still icy and I have to keep reminding myself that it’s March, still cold, but with a promise of warmer days to come. It reminded me of the stupid “Knock, Knock” joke which I’m sure you’ve all heard.
Marshall come in like a lion and go out like a lamb.
May it be so!
There’s hope, if these daffodils are telling the truth.
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.
I found this odd plant growing along the side of my driveway this morning. It goes by several names: monotropa uniflora, ghost plant, ghost pipe, Indian pipe, and corpse plant.
It does look rather ghostly without its green chlorophyll, but more striking than that is the shape. I’ve only ever known it as Indian pipe, probably named for its shape similar to the traditional Indian peace pipe.
I’ve always found the Indian pipe fascinating because it is so different from most other plants. I thought it was a fungus, like a mushroom, but apparently it is considered to be in the family of Ericae, the heathers. I can’t see the connection, but I trust Wikipedia to have given me the correct information.
But the Indian pipe is parasitic on fungi, deriving its energy from the root systems of fungi rather than from sunlight. It can pop up very quickly after a rain. We did have quite a downpour yesterday and here they are!
By the way, you might have noticed that it is surrounded by Canada’s symbol, the “maple leaf forever,” looking a bit ratty around the edges, and no wonder, the way things are going.