You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘snow’ tag.
…you know what we’ll be doing.
Winter chores. Which usually involves a lot of Snow.
Here’s a synopsis of our outdoor life from November through April or May each year:
Then there is the challenge of scraping the car. Seems like I even wrote a blog about it back last winter. Let’s see if it can be found. Yes, here it is if you would vicariously like to experience the thrill.
This morning proved a very lucky morning. My dear husband offered to open the door and walk outside to take pre-dawn photography shots. Wasn’t he kind? (HE didn’t have to go to work this morning…) He even scraped and brushed the car after the photo shoot. Of course, I do believe I scraped HIS car yesterday morning, so perhaps now we’re even.
As of the last daylight check, it seems like it gets light around here somewhere around 8:15 a.m. Dark around 5:45 p.m. Our daylight hours are a little skewed compared to most folks on Eastern time because we’re so close to the Central Time Zone. (Morning observation: forget the specifics. It’s hard to determine when it gets light. Let’s revise to say anywhere between 7:45-8:15 a.m. in the morning. Or you can click here to get the official time.)
In the afternoon we opted to fill the wood room. You need to get the wood inside for a couple days before you burn it in the woodstove for prime burning. Even though we have our wood pile nicely tarped, it still needs to dry out completely. First, you have to shovel the snow off the tarps. (This is usually not my job.) Then one of us stands inside in the wood room while the other hauls logs to the door. The inside-worker stacks the logs in nice even rows in the woodroom. Because the inside worker has a cushier job (unless they are putting the logs up high) one must trade off. I let Barry stack the higher logs and then jump inside to stack the lower logs while he carries the wood in. Got that convoluted lesson in wood hauling and stacking?
This winter looks extra-challenging for chores because a certain Garage Addition Builder has not yet finished his project. In fact, it looks like February might be the finishing date. You never know. The metal roof is in at the lumber yard. He’ll drive his ’49 Studebaker in to pick up supplies on Friday. Before he begins to work on his daily building project, he must shovel the snow off the rafters. It makes building a garage addition in the summertime look like a piece of cake!
Another very important winter chore involves plowing the driveway with our tractor. I suggested today that he uncover the tractor and re-plow the driveway for a photo shoot. He declined. So you will have to imagine what the tractor and plowing job looks like. Or, if you’re really bored and missing this blog during the winter, re-read all the entries. Somewhere in the archives there is a picture or two of the tractor. I promise you.
My jobs are shoveling the deck and sometimes the front porch. And…oh yes…we mustn’t forget…emptying the ash buckets. After you burn enough wood in the woodstove, it fills up with ash which must then be dumped out in the woods. And now you can visualize this exciting chore:
Yep, that’s our winter chores. I’ve probably forgotten at least ten of them. So you can see, even if I decide to shut the door and stay inside all winter, it’s not going to happen! Those outdoor chores will simply have to be done…
By the way, if I eventually start another blog, I am looking forward to being able to post indoor photographs. For example…looking around furtively…no one is noticing this isn’t an outdoor photograph, are they?…don’t you think this statue of Abraham Lincoln with the cactus growing out of his head looks cool? (Barry just raised his eyes and did not seem to agree…) I did not even position that cactus. Life is amazing, isn’t it?
Hi Santa! We’re so excited to see you around here! Did you have a good ride down from the North Pole? Did you ride in that fire truck all the way? Did you put out any fires along the way?
Santa scurried inside the Arvon Town Hall to deliver gifts to eager children. I stood around in sixteen layers of clothing (NOT Grandma’s 1970’s snowmobile suit. We do NOT bring that out in public) waiting for the hayride. We had to wait until Santa passed out all his goodies. Yep. The Fire Department puts on a bona fide hayride every year for all the kids, parents and outdoor bloggers who want to hop aboard. It’s a wagon pulled by your standard four-wheel drive pickup truck. Complete with hay bales for all of us hayride-participants to sit atop.
Oh the kids were so cute! Really adorable, every single one of them. Some of them had blue lips from sucking on blue and white candy canes. Not from the cold, mind you! Maybe twenty of us piled on the wagon for the short ride down to the township park and back. (I had been forewarned to wear lots of heavy clothing. It looked like not everyone received the memo. Without hats and gloves, it looked like some riders might have been a tad bit uncomfortable…)
However, the weather was lovely today. Truly lovely. I can’t begin to share how 25 degrees seems like a heat wave after a freezing cold previous day where the temperature barely rose to 10 degrees and the wind whipped around trees with a potent fury. Today felt balmy. At least for those of us with snow pants, hooded sweatshirt, heavy coat, two pair of mittens, warm hat and toasty Sorel boots.
How many of you are thinking the beautiful snow-covered trees were spotted during our hayride? Ha ha, fooled you big time! The tree-photos were taken yesterday down a side road near our house. I was leaning out the window of the car, snapping away. The mailman followed in his car. You could tell he couldn’t figure out what I was doing on this road. I flagged him to drive past. He kind of frowned as he went around. It was a puzzlement. What was I doing on this road? (This is one of the joys of rural living! Everyone knows who you are and wonders when you’re not doing something predictable.)
After the hayride, it was time to finish shoveling the deck. I love shoveling very slowly. When Barry shovels, it’s all done in one session. When I shovel, it may be two or three days. That’s because one must ENJOY one’s shoveling. One must only shovel until it’s time to quit. Which might be in five minutes or fifteen minutes. Never a half hour.
Hope everyone a) gets to see Santa coming down from the North Pole on a fire truck and b) gets to see a little snow for Christmas. That is, if one lives in a snow-prone area of the world. Also hoping c) that you all get to go on a hayride this year. Really! And remember, if you can’t find a hayride pulled by a good old-fashioned horse, a pickup truck will do.
So which Christmas song would you use to describe today? I’m voting for “Baby It’s Cold Outside”. That is, if we even consider that song a Christmas song. Seems like they have been putting it on Christmas CDs lately, so it probably applies, even though some might think it really doesn’t have much to do with the holidays…but it DOES have lots to do about the cold.
It seems to be freezing all around the United States. I’ve heard complaints from New York City and Nebraska and Georgia and even California (although that western complaint came last week, so they’re probably back to mild and sunny already…)
I didn’t didn’t didn’t want to go outside this afternoon. And, once outside, didn’t didn’t didn’t want to stay outside. It felt too cold at 10 degrees. Even though I was dressed very warmly. I counted the remaining days of the outdoor adventure on both hands. After today, only nine more days to go.
Today’s outdoor adventure involved a) taking pics of apple trees, b) taking lots and lots of snow pics which you’ll have to see later, c) walking around L’Anse and photographing decorated Christmas trees (I know you’ll be holding your breath waiting to see those!), d) walking down and up the road for maybe ten minutes and e) shoveling more snow off the back deck.
A slight emergency ensued during the snowy-tree photography session. OH NO! The edges of camera suddenly seemed to go…black…and I got quite confused. What was happening? The camera wouldn’t dare break now would it? Please, Camera, I need you to work for ten more days, I begged. Do not die now. You’re too new to die. What in the heck is wrong with you?
Fortunately, upon arrival home, with some closer inspection, I discovered that the shutter had somehow become stuck. Ahhh… a simple matter to gently touch it and the shutter quietly closed its gaping mouth. That was what created the black side walls of the photos. Phew… Now let’s just hope it was a random event and not a precursor of anything more serious. (Barry’s assessment after reading this blog: the camera was frozen!)
On the way to town, I saw something really cool. Two really cool things. Here is your “Where’s Waldo” question of the Day. Or rather your “What’s Waldo” question. Can you spot two interesting things in the above photo? And what might they be?
Now, if you would like to listen to It’s Beginning to Look a LOT like Christmas with our dear Bing Crosby, here’s your link. If you prefer Baby It’s Cold Outside with Willie Nelson and Norah Jones click here. I guarantee you will sing this second song all day. Once you’ve heard it, it never goes away…
I can’t imagine dentists recommending that folks play hockey. Only in the Copper Country of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula would one glimpse a sign like this. We laughed for two minutes before I made Barry turn the car around to photograph the sign. And, I can guarantee you, turning around the car on a day like today proved no easy feat. (Ha ha, I am SO slow to get a joke. Barry says dentists recommend playing hockey because players get their teeth knocked out and dentists have business. Now I’m REALLY laughing!)
We had to drive up to Houghton. Barry had to interview someone, and he dropped me nicely at a coffee shop to sip cappuccino and play on my laptop computer, also known as Miss Ellie. I wore sneakers up to Houghton, the first bad decision of the day. The good decision involved throwing in a pair of Sorel boots in the back seat of the car. After getting a good case of frozen sneaker-feet, I switched to the Sorels and clumped around during our later shopping expedition.
The snow was still coming down in white sheets in the Copper Country. Once you drive across the Houghton County line, you can expect the weather to worsen. It almost always does. Usually within a mile or so of the county line sign. People in the coffee shop moaned that the weather forecaster predicted up to ANOTHER two feet of snow up there in the next day or so. Yikes! We can always thank our lucky stars for living in the “banana belt” of Baraga County, especially in our locale near the Huron Bay. After all, our storm abated after about fifteen inches of snow.
I was glad Barry drove. The roads were not stellar. They combined ice, snow and slush into a mixture that kept us alert and cautious. The white-out conditions in the Copper Country added to the fun.
However, we did accomplish all our work and shopping. After we turned around to drive home, passing by the county line, out came the sun! Houghton County may still be getting lake effect snow, but we’re feeling like the tropics down here. After all, our thermometer read 14 degrees! Welcome winter!!
P.S. Today’s outdoor adventure (besides running between stores) involved shoveling most of the deck. A very good upper body workout. I wonder if four out of five dentists would recommend shoveling? Hmmm….
Welcome to our little blizzard. Yep, parts of the Midwest of this United States of America have been hit hard. We have…how many inches? I brought the yardstick outside to try and gauge the exact amount. Twelve inches? Fourteen inches? And the storm has not stopped yet.
I awoke at 5:45 a.m. and blearily logged onto the Internet to see if school/work had been cancelled. No announcements. But I was pretty sure that we would not be having school. The wind rushed and screamed outside the window at maybe 40 miles per hour. The snow blew sideways. I predicted: no school. But settled down beneath blankets on the couch to wait. I admired the way our little ceramic Christmas tree reflected in the window as dawn approached.
The call came at 6:30. Our principal announced “No School”. Hurray! A day off work.
Most of my day was spent inside with the front door securely latched. But, never fear!, I remembered the outdoor commitment. Divided it into three mini-portions. The first involved a meandering to the mailbox. One truly must meander very slowly during a blizzard. The foot goes up in the air, sinks down in the heavy snow. Slowly one makes her way through the leaden snow drifts. The wind blows snow sideways in your face. You persevere. You get the mail. You head back to the house.
The second trip outdoors…what did I do? I don’t remember. Maybe I just stood around hoping to catch the wind whipping up blizzard-like snow. My eyelashes turned snowy. It didn’t feel too cold, though.
The third trip outside, after dark, involved digging out buried cars. This was truly a job. A snow scraper isn’t enough. One must find a push broom in the garage, and then broom off the foot or more of snow. It helps to blare Christmas music from the car’s speakers. It helps to have one’s husband atop his tractor, fitted with a snowplow, beaming light around the driveway.
On the bright side, I accomplished much indoors today. (Shhh…this is suppose to be an outdoor blog. I’m not suppose to tell you about indoor activities.) I finished the novel that I’ve been writing for NaNoWriMo since November 1st. It’s somewhere between 60,000-63,000 words. It all ended rather well. The heroine did not die, although she almost did. She married the hero and we hope they are going to live happily ever after. The novel combined a true historical setting from around our area…and some of my favorite things, spirituality and dreaming. I am happy. The characters in the novel are happy. Now, with a little editing, it might someday be possible to actually SHOW the novel to someone! Excuse me. I mean a LOT of editing.
Everyone around here is waiting for that blizzard. First it was a winter storm watch. Then it morphed into a winter storm warning. Now it’s a blizzard warning.
In the meantime, the weather has been rather mild. Although this morning it was snowing cats and dogs. You had to drive very slowly. You thought the blizzard had arrived early. But no. It was simply a precursor to the actual blizzard which is reputedly supposed to start…in twenty five minutes. Somewhere around 7 p.m. Tuesday night.
They say we’re going to get lots of snow. The question is: do we believe them? The National Weather Service gravely warns: up to twelve inches of snow will befall us. The way the radar loop is turning a swirl of blue from Iowa north, it may be true. We’ll see.
My mother just called. “What’s the weather like up there?” she wondered. They have a winter storm watch down in Michigan’s Thumb. They are hoping to get snow, rather than treacherous ice. I think I would agree that would be preferable.
People usually go to town the day before a blizzard. They try to stock up on supplies. Get groceries for tomorrow night. Maybe some hot chocolate or a bottle of wine or maybe some popcorn. They fill up the car with gas. Perhaps they buy an extra jug of water in case the electricity goes out. If they remember they buy batteries for the flashlight. They try to think of what they might need if the blizzard keeps them home-bound for a while. The stores always seem busier when the National Weather Service puts out a Blizzard Warning.
I walked in the woods this afternoon. It is a pleasure to walk in the woods in the beginning of December before the snow gets too deep. After this blizzard, if we get a foot or more, it will be impossible to walk without snowshoes. Then it can be harder work to navigate amongst the trees. So are we all ready for blizzard? Ready to cuddle up on the couch tomorrow and read a book? Ready to snuggle in the warm house as the snow comes down outside the window? And in my case…ready to open the door, walk outside into the great and snowy white blizzard? Anyone experiencing a blizzard want to join me? Yep…it’s that time of year again!
I’ve been fascinated by the patterns of the freezing rivers lately. The rivers have been donning their winter garb of ice and snow, settling in for the long freezing days and nights.
Yesterday I photographed the Silver River as it passed under Townline Road, but today drove a little distance up Skanee Road to wander along the river through the woods. How it meanders! How the river dances around this bend and those rapids, never stopping, always moving. Until ice renders it deceptively silent and still. Don’t walk on it yet! In fact, I have never walked on river ice. The currents still run beneath the silent frozen surface.
Years ago I dreamed of falling through the ice on the Silver River, sucked down beneath the hard glass surface, unable to find a way to the hole, unable to find a way back up. It was not a happy dream.
In some places the river looks muddy and brown. If you walk around the curve, it suddenly struts its beauty in stark white. Fascinating patterns swirl everywhere. Rivers of ice exist within rivers of sparkling water.
The camera uploaded more than fifty photos by the time it finished shooting the patterns and swirls. It seemed impossible to pick eight photos to show you. Each one looks so unique, so different. In the end, I just closed my eyes and picked. (Well, not really! But you get the idea…)
We are surrounded by such beauty that we do not notice. I have never before thought of wandering by the riverside documenting the freezing of river ice. Why don’t we think to do such things?
There are rumors that a big snow storm is headed for the Upper Peninsula. Maybe tomorrow? Maybe the next day? Some areas may get ten to fifteen inches. Baraga County is part of that warning. You can read about it here if you like. Sigh…winter seems to be starting awfully early this year.
It’s lovely to sit inside when the snow falls. You feel so cozy and peaceful and snug. It’s even fun to put on your warm winter clothes and go outside. What is challenging is when loved ones (or one’s self) need to be on the road. Driving in a snowstorm is no fun. The snow loses its appeal very rapidly.
Back to our discussion of freezing rivers. It’s interesting to get right up close to the edge of the ice. Not too close! You don’t want to fall in. But close enough to linger at the edge of something brand new. Something beautiful. Something we’re going to get to know very intimately during the next four or five months…
Just think how many things we don’t know about nature.
For example, I just had to Google the Question “Do beavers hibernate?”
You would think someone who lives in the North Woods would know the answer to this question. I thought I knew; maybe, perhaps, yes they do, no they don’t, let’s just get it over with and Google.
Google pointed its wise finger to several websites which provided the definitive answer: You Silly Questioner. Of course beavers do not hibernate. Don’t you know they eat the inner bark of trees during the winter? Don’t you know that because the surface of their ponds may freeze solid, making it difficult to get trees, the beaver will chew down extra ones for an underwater food cache located near the den or lodge? Don’t you know that?
So now you’re wondering about otter, I suppose. You want to know if otter hibernate. I am here to tell you “Facts you Otter Know“. They are definitively active all year-round. Cold weather does not inhibit their behavior. In fact the author of the hyperlinked article insists that the otter loves ice and snow. You otter know that.
Bears hibernate. You knew that, right? Well, I am going to rock your world view, because some scientists disagree that bears actually hibernate in the same way as other animals. That’s because they wake up frequently and their metabolism does not slow to nearly the same degree as, say, a possum or badger. Why some mama bears even give birth during the winter, requiring a degree of alertness to care for the new cubs. These scientists prefer to call this behavior denning rather than hibernating. (It IS amazing what a Google search will teach you.)
Another source just revealed that bears and raccoons torpor during the winter. This source said that the raccoons sometimes go out to hunt before returning to their torpor-like state. My husband can verify that. He caught a big lake trout ice fishing and was saving the carcass in the snow and the raccoons stole it in the winter.
Here is a partial list of animals hibernating around here this very minute according to wisegeek: chipmunks, ground squirrels (I beg to differ. A red squirrel climbed the exterior wall, sat on the window and peered inside while I ‘denned’ at the computer this afternoon), hamsters (not any hamsters in these woods unless they escaped from someone’s house), skunks, bats, and badgers.
Let us not forget our non-mammal friends, either. The snakes that scared you last summer are sound asleep in a coma-like hibernation. When we bring in our wood from the wood pile to wood room, we find shedded snake skins everywhere. Sometimes we hang them up for decorations in the wood room. I kid you not. Back to our hibernation discussion. Here are some more non-mammals: lizards, frogs, toads, turtles and bees are all hibernating.
One bird, the Western Poor Will, is considered a hibernating bird. I can tell you what birds do NOT hibernate. The chickadees, nuthatches, finches, blue jays, woodpeckers and juncos have all been seen near the bird feeder already this winter. They are hard to photograph. They flutter and swoop and dive so quickly all you can capture is a blurry whirr of wings.
The chickadees at Catherine’s house yesterday were more relaxed. You can see the non-hibernating bird here:
Oh yes. I would also like to add that I did not hibernate today. Barry had to go to the Trading Post, so I hitched a ride. Then he dropped me off about a mile or more from our house and I walked home. It was cold, but not freezing cold. Snowy, but not too snowy. The only non-hibernating animals spotted were ravens lunching on a deer carcass. (I decided to spare you the deer carcass photo.)
Happy Thanksgiving all you blog readers!
Even if you don’t celebrate thanksgiving, I am thankful for YOU.
Today (besides being the once or twice a year our mostly-vegetarian lips touch meat…that’s if you don’t count fish) we ate Thomas Turkey. He tasted quite good. Baked to that fall-apart perfection. Add some mashed potatoes, gravy and homemade stuffing and you’ve got a dinner to be grateful for. We said our words of thanks. I read a poem by Rafael Jesus Gonzalez entitled Grace. We included our family and friends, near and far, into the heart of our prayers. We ate.
It was snowing this morning. A very light snow, dusting the ground and then melting into it. Flakes danced from the sky and melted in odd patterns everywhere.
I was truly fascinated with the way the snow melted on the car. How interesting! What loops, what hieroglyphs, what symmetry! One has a lot to be grateful for when the snow melting on one’s car is more entertaining than a movie or a Macy’s parade, don’t you think?
Barry put up the bird feeder a couple days ago. We’ve been waiting breathlessly for the arrival of the chickadees and nuthatches. They have been calling and chirping all around us in the past few days. They kept singing, “Where is our bird feeder? Where is our bird feeder?” but when we finally put it up, they were nowhere around. Until this afternoon when we put the turkey in the oven. Then there were a dozen of them pecking away in the feeder. I was too busy to photograph their majesties.
Excuse the insertion of this green moss photo. It was taken yesterday, before the world turned white. Isn’t it a stunning color of bright green against the autumn leaves?
Another interjection: Remember when I told you about the NaNoWriMo commitment of writing a 50,000 page novel during the month of November? How many of you placed bets it couldn’t be done? Well, I am here to tell you that 51,214 words have been sprawled across 96 pages and I now have the official “prize”. You want to know what the prize is? I will upload it for you:
However, of course, the novel is not done. Nowhere near done. The characters are still deep involved in their drama, romance and historical fiction. Who knows when it will be finished. This month? Next? I do vow to finish it. Some of the writing is so raw I’m sure you could scrub countertops with it (ha ha, how’s that for a metaphor?) but other passages are almost…almost…fairly decent. The editor would have to utilize an eraser and thesaurus before anyone could ever read it.
Just wanted to let you know the status of this secondary commitment. Which didn’t really interfere with the outdoor commitment at all, did it?
What else can I tell you about this Thanksgiving night? How about the bald eagle which landed in the tree over the garage and sat there a long time? Barry said he’s seen it there two or three times lately. I tried to grab the camera and capture his majestic wings in flight but he flapped away with his broad wingsweep the very moment the front door opened. Like all good trackers, I followed him up the road. He landed in a tree. I approached; he flew away. I shook my head and wandered back home, photographing ice crystals instead.
As for the front porch: oh my! Very dangerous. An unsuspecting walker, say, someone with birdseed in his hands, could take a sliding dive on the icy steps. Luckily, we maintained our wits. We walked oh-so-carefully. No one tumbled. No one fell.
We were truly thankful as we said our Thanksgiving prayer this year.
Sending you all Thanksgiving blessings, as well.
****Darn! Darn! I almost forgot to tell you THE MOST IMPORTANT THING. Phew. Memory is not always the best. Dawn, Sahlah, had a great suggestion for Black Friday. I will paste her idea here:
I have an idea – we can all give virtual rocks/feathers/twigs/puddles whatever to each other in our blogs!
We could spend Black Friday searching for those “just right” images…
So that’s going to be MY Black Friday shopping. I’m going to officially shop for rocks. And a few other goodies from the woods. Virtual presents for all of YOU!
The Anishinabe (Ojibway) call this November moon “The Freezing Moon”. We all know why. As the angle of the earth tilts away from the sun, our northern hemisphere begins to cool. Winter whispers in the ear of autumn, “You’re outa here!” Autumn waves the last of her vibrant leaves, recognizing that it’s here time to go.
I’ve had a challenging day or so. I feel overwhelmed; spread too thin. The precious silence and simplicity that I love has been eaten away by too-much-busyness. It’s not just the new novel-writing commitment for the month of November. It’s simply that I am not making enough room for quiet space if my life. My soul is begging for me to listen and I simply brush it away, “Oh, do be quiet now, I’m busy!” It feels as if an inner voice keeps whispering, “It’s time to let go of a few things in your life right now. Let go of a few of those autumn leaves that are ready to release into the wind.”
People often move to the woods or country desiring a less hectic lifestyle. They want simplicity, quiet, ease of life. That can happen if one cultivates it. But more often than not, Life and Busy-ness have a way of finding you even in the backwoods. Busy-ness can take over your life, wherever you go.
When Busy-ness starts getting overwhelming, we need to have a talk with her.
“This is what must go,” we might say to Ms. Busy-ness. “This and this and this. You might like all these things, but are they really necessary?”
And we know what is simply wasting precious minutes and hours in our day. We know. But it’s often challenging to let that autumn leaf fall off the branch. To simply let go of that which is not serving us, in order to give more quality time to that which nourishes our souls.
Snow fell on the morning of the full moon. Less than an inch draped our car, scattering on the fallen leaves. In town, at the top of the hill, as I drove to get my hair trimmed, I noticed at least two or three inches of white. Amazing how one area has no snow; three miles away you almost need boots.
Every person is different. Some of us need huge vistas of silence, of space, of walking in the woods with the companionship of the sun and moon. Another person is satisfied with much less. The snow falls in different proportions everywhere; we must listen to our inner guidance and follow the quiet direction which prompts us.
Too often if we refuse to heed our wise inner voice, our body speaks up instead and suggests a nice vacation with the flu or perhaps some other illness.
I’m going to try, starting today, to make room in the midst of busy-ness. Perhaps the busy-ness will sit back and relax. Perhaps she and I will share a cup of jasmine tea and some silence.
Perhaps the leaves will effortlessly release from the trees and drift in the autumn wind, beneath The Freezing Moon.
Outdoors today: helped Barry move and cover the wood splitter. Then we carried long heavy boards for his garage edition. Later we covered the woodpile. More checks off our “to do list” before winter arrives.