Than THESE in the Bush

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For the past several years, one of the main items on my “bucket list” has been to attend one of the Michigan Audubon trips to Sault Saint Marie, Michigan in the winter. We had signed up a number of times, but something had always come up to keep us from going on the trip. I was determined that this winter, we were going to make the trip and see some terrific birds.

 

Let me tell you a little about winter in Michigan. If you follow my blog, you know that this has been an extraordinarily cold and snowy winter. We’ve had temperatures below zero degrees Fahrenheit on multiple occasions. While this is definitely not preferred weather for the human species, it’s perfect for some of the boreal species of birds. These birds are at home in the very far north of Canada and Alaska. This year, nothing was going to stop us – and it didn’t.

Snowy Rid

Snowy Ride

We left Friday morning for Sault Saint Marie “the Soo.” There were several snow squalls along the way, but it made for a picturesque, albeit a bit dodgy, ride. I was glad that my Michigan-born husband was behind the wheel.

The BIG Bridge

The BIG Bridge

The ride across the Mackinac Straits over the big bridge was uneventful (thank goodness). The huge chunks of ice attest to the temperatures we’ve seen this winter. I have, however, seen old photos where the Straits have completely frozen and people have been able to walk from Mackinaw Island right to the mainland.

Talk about ICE

Talk about ICE

The Audubon trip started the next morning with us all meeting at the local McDonalds. The weather was quite cold (in the single digits – Fahrenheit – and low 10s), but it was gorgeously clear and sunny. As we spent most of the time in the car, the cold and wind only got to us when we got out to scan for birds or to set up scopes and get our binoculars on some pretty darned spectacular birds. Let me explain here that most of these birds are rare for our part of the country. Most of our targets were boreal species which rarely venture out of the heavily forested, far northern part of Canada.

Pine Grosbeaks!

Pine Grosbeaks!

 

Pine Grosbeaks!

Pine Grosbeaks!

One of our first stops was at feeders at a Michigan State University station. Here is where I first saw the Pine Grosbeaks that I had so dearly hoped to see. There weren’t just one or two birds – there were lots of them. The males are a gorgeous bright red with gray wings. These birds are regularly seen in the UP, but these were my first ever. They are quite confiding, and had little worry about so many humans standing around. (Our group was comprised of approximately 15 birders and Skye – our guide extraordinaire.)

Grosbeaks!

Grosbeaks!

Other birds that rarely venture into the Lower Peninsula are Redpolls. We were lucky enough to see several flocks of Common Redpolls, and more than a few Hoary Redpolls thrown into the mix.

Redpoll

Redpoll

The real focus of the trip, though, was owls. There had been several Snowy Owls reported as well as Northern Hawk Owl and the ever-elusive Great Gray Owl.

 

There was a lot of driving involved in our “owl-prowl.” We covered lots of territory without seeing any owls at all. I have to say that I was surprised at how many ravens we saw. Ravens are not at all common in the Lower Peninsula so seeing those was a treat. We also got the rare opportunity to see a dark-phase, Rough-Legged Hawk. What a beautiful bird! It was almost solid black except for a band of white through its wings.

Great Gray Owl (thanks to Jeromy Hakyl)

Great Gray Owl (thanks to Jeremy Halka)

We did finally luck out in that another birder who was reporting in on the internet found the Great Gray Owl. We made a hasty caravan back to the area in which it had been seen. Fortunately, the reporting birder was still in the area and told us exactly where to look. Sure enough! There he was – sitting comfortably in a tree not more than 40 feet from us. As mentioned earlier, there are some birds which are not around humans very much, so they do not fear us. Great Gray Owls fall into that category. As you can see in these spectacular photos, we didn’t perturb the bird at all. Let me mention right here that these photos were actually taken on cellphones. Yes, I’m serious. A terrific young student named Jeremy Halka (who was fighting a terrible cold but still came out) patiently focused cellphone cameras over and over to get us these terrific shots. He had figured out how to use the camera on a cellphone to take photos through our spotting scopes. This brings bird photography to a completely new level for most of us.

Great Gray Owl (gorgeous photography by Jeremy Halka)

Great Gray Owl (gorgeous photography by Jeremy Halka)

After we had all spent many cold minutes observing and photographing the Great Gray, he flew off to hunt for his next snack. We all piled happily into our vehicles and the caravan was off again. This time, we were heading back to the area we had hastily left in search of the Great Gray Owl. We hoped against hope that the Northern Hawk Owl that had been seen in the area was still there. It was!

 

Northern Hawk Owl (Jeremy Halka)

Northern Hawk Owl (Jeremy Halka)

Perched in the very top of a pine tree, our sharp-eyed leader found the Northern Hawk Owl surveying the snow-covered farm land around it. Another amazingly beautiful bird. I understand completely how this bird was named. He does look like a hawk and an owl, combined.

Hawk Owl

Northern Hawk Owl (Photo by Jeremy Halka)

Once again, we were able to get some terrific photos thanks to Jeremy and his patience.

 

By this time, it’s getting to be late afternoon, and we are all pretty tired from fighting the cold. Our last destination was an area where Snowy Owls were commonly seen. I have to say, THIS was the bird that I’d been most hoping to get a good look at. I’d been looking forward to this for so long. The Great Gray was such a surprise, I had no long-term expectations. The Snowy, on the other hand, well I knew chances were good.

A little aside here… Jim and I had actually seen a Snowy Owl before, so it wasn’t a “life bird.” However, the only looks we’d ever had were through a spotting scope of an owl sitting down in a field several hundred yards away. It was also cold and very windy that day and there was snow-shimmer. Yes, we saw the top of the owl’s head and its feathers moving, but hardly the kind of observation we longed for. We had also gotten in the car and driven miles and miles on many occasions to try to see Snowy Owls that had been reported. Every time, we were unsuccessful (skunked in fishing/birding terms).

First Time to REALLY see a Snowy Owl!

First Time to REALLY see a Snowy Owl!

I can’t truly explain the absolute joy I felt when we stopped at our first sighting of a gorgeous Snowy Owl (either female or juvenile due to the dark spots – an adult, male Snowy is almost completely white). Let’s just say I’m not sure the car had come to a complete stop and the door remained wide open. Oh my GOODNESS!!!! What an amazingly beautiful bird! We had hit the owl “trifecta!” As we left this owl (I believe all but a very few of us had been able to get good looks at Snowy Owls before), we were blessed to see three more in rapid succession. I begged a stop at the second one as I had not been able to get a good photo of the first. The group was very considerate and we piled out, once again, to observe yet another juvenile or female owl.

jeremySnowy

Snowy Owl (photo by Jeremy Halka)

After leaving that owl and seeing the other two flying and at some distance, we called it a day. The cold and the exhilaration had taken it out of all of us. We caravanned back to the McDonalds and made plans to meet up again the next morning at 7.

Yep! That's MINUS 24 Fahrenheit! (-31 Celsius)

Yep! That’s MINUS 24 Fahrenheit! (-31 Celsius)

Sunday morning dawned clear, bright, and exceedingly cold. As most of the group were planning to head back “down state – home” later in the day, there were a larger number of cars in our caravan. Instead of driving this time, though, we rode with Sault Saint Marie resident, Doris. We were so grateful to her for driving in such inhospitable weather. It definitely was the coldest I’d ever been in. Yes, it was 24 BELOW zero Fahrenheit! I had to laugh when I found out that Doris grew up in Florida just like I did. What were two southern girls doing in -24F with snow up to our derrieres? Birding! That’s what we were doing. Must be some form of “sickness.”

 

Our first stop brought us a tree full of Sharp-tailed Grouse. The snow was so deep that they weren’t dancing on their lek.

Tree Full of Sharp-Tailed Grouse

Tree Full of Sharp-Tailed Grouse

How deep was the snow? It was so deep that the cattle could have easily stepped over their fencing. They were standing on top of it as it had gotten so packed down that they weren’t sinking in. I’ve never seen anything like it. I have to say, that the snowmobilers were having fabulous weather for their races, but I don’t think any of us were properly dressed for the extremes we encountered.

 

After leaving the grouse, we headed back to an area where Boreal Chickadee had been reported. If you read my blogs about our trip to the UP this summer, you know that we had looked all over to hopefully find Boreal Chickadee and Gray Jay. For the first time on the trip, we didn’t see the bird we hoped to see. There were lots and lots of Black-capped Chickadees, but no Boreal Chickadees.

 

That was the trip. We ended up where we began – the McDonalds. We said our good-byes and went our separate ways. It was a terrific trip! We met lots of terrific people, learned a lot about the Soo, and saw fantastic birds.

 

Up Next: Not in Forty Years…

 

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When A Bird in the Hand…

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I know I’ve kvetched about the winters here in Michigan ad nauseum. There are, however, a whole lot of fun things to do. One of the things I’ve always enjoyed doing in the winter is visiting Kensington Metropark.

 

For those of you who have never been to this part of Michigan, a ‘metropark’ is an area set aside for recreation. One can either pay a small fee on a daily basis, or purchase a yearly pass. Kensington is one of the largest parks in the Detroit metro area. There are lots of things to in the park, including bicycling, running, dog-walking, fishing (ice fishing in the winter), boating, sailing, picnicking, and, winter tobogganing/sledding.

Ice Fishermen Enjoying the Sunny Day

Ice Fishermen Enjoying the Sunny Day

 

A Lady & Her Dog Out for a Walk

A Lady & Her Dog Out for a Walk

Here some folks enjoying the cross-country skiing trails (there are miles and miles of them).

Cross-Country Skiing - a Big Favorite at Kensington

Cross-Country Skiing – a Big Favorite at Kensington

Cross-Country Skiing at Kensington

Cross-Country Skiing at Kensington

Here are some photos of children (big and small) having a wonderful time sledding in Kensington.

A Dad & His Boys Out for a Slide

A Dad & His Boys Out for a Slide

A Wolverine Fan Gets His Slide On

A Wolverine Fan Gets His Slide On

 

Lots of Fun!

Lots of Fun!

My favorite activity in Kensington is birding. This is where Jim and I first realized that birding is a passion we can share.

A Bird (Chickadee) in The Hand

A Bird (Chickadee) in The Hand

For many years, people have been feeding the wild birds at Kensington’s Nature Center. Eventually, the birds got very used to people having seed to share. Now, especially in the winter, the small birds will come right down to your hands and eat out of them.

 

A Tufted Titmouse Gets a Peanut

A Tufted Titmouse Gets a Peanut

The first time I came to Kensington with my sister-in-law, she introduced me to the joy of hand feeding the birds. She was very interested in birding at the time and knew my love of birds. She also knew I would be charmed by the birds eating out of my hands. We were still living in Georgia at the time, so I knew this would be a place I would enjoy coming back to. Little did I know that I would one day be living within just a very few miles.

A Black-Capped Chickadee In for His Landing

A Black-Capped Chickadee In for His Landing

Next!

Next!

 

A Downy on My Shoulder

A Downy on My Shoulder

Here are some photos of the next generation of “bird feeders” in Kensington.

Birding's Next Generation

Birding’s Next Generation

While most of the birds that look to be fed are tiny (chickadees, titmice, nuthatches, even woodpeckers), here are the latest trying to get into the act. One piece of advice, DON’T attempt to hand-feed the Sandhill Cranes. Those bills are really big and sharp. The birds can also be somewhat aggressive. I was completely shocked that these birds stayed through the winter. Sandhills are common here from Spring through mid-Autumn, but they always migrate to Florida and points south during the winter (not unlike a large number of humans).

Did Someone Say Food?

Did Someone Say Food?

This Sure Isn't Florida. It's COLD here!

This Sure Isn’t Florida. It’s COLD here!

 

I hope you enjoyed our photos. If you are ever in the Detroit metropolitan area, try to make a trip out to Kensington. The birds are here year-round, and they are always happy to be fed.

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Blue Heron Rookery

If you’re here in the summer, these nests will be full of Blue Herons. It’s quite a site.

 

Up Next: Isn’t Worth THESE in the Bush

 

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There’s A BEAR in My Yard!

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Got your attention, didn’t I? Actually, yes, there is a Bear in my yard. It’s my adorable 2 ½ year old German Shepherd Dog, Bear. With all the attention given to the weather and things to do in the snow, I thought it only fair to give Bear equal time.

 

Bear in my Yard

Bear in my Yard

You Talkin' About Me?

You Talkin’ About Me?

Bear loves the snow! The only thing Bear likes more than running in the snow is chasing squirrels in the snow. That’s an activity I haven’t mentioned before – squirrel chasing. There’s a certain joy in watching a dog plow through the snow after a furry-tailed rodent. Sure, it’s not a ‘personal’ activity, per se; it’s a spectator sport. Considering the fact that I always have about 14 bird feeders full at any one time, there is no shortage of targets. I tried really hard to get a photo of Bear in flight after a squirrel.

Squirrel!

Squirrel!

In case you’re wondering about the tail…yes, he was born with one. In March of last year, he and Sydney were playing. They would play chase and he would slow down just a little to let her almost catch up to him. I used to laugh at him when he would do that. It was just as though he was saying, “Nah, nah, nah! You can’t catch me_e” in the way that all children do. He always got away unscathed.  Well…almost always. This time, though, he slowed down just at the wrong time and Sydney caught the tip of his tail. Without going into gory de-tail (oh, I made a pun), no matter how we tried to save his tail, he just wouldn’t leave it alone long enough to heal. After several surgeries (and weeks in the ‘cone of shame’) to remove just one more bone, we agreed that he would have to have it bobbed.

I am PITIFUL!

I am PITIFUL!

To this day, I’m still trying to get used to it, but everyone who meets him says it “fits” his personality. If there’s a benefit to it, it might be that items on my shelves and tables are now a whole lot safer.

Did He Go That Way?

Did He Go That Way?

When Bear isn’t chasing squirrels or annoying Sydney, he can be a downright awesome buddy. He likes to sit next to my chair when I’m here. I often wonder if he’d like to put in his ‘two-cents-worth.’

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I think he may know that I’m writing about him.

Dogs 002 

I’d love to hear about your special buddy! Please share him or her in the “Comments” section.

Up Next:  A Bird in the Hand…

 

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Plymouth Ice Festival

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After a year with virtually no snow (winter 2011/2012) – or even much cold, we in Southeastern Michigan are truly getting paid back by ‘old man Winter.’ We’ve seen the coldest temperatures in at least four years, and the return of snow. The photos below show our yard during the holidays.

Snow from our back deck

Snow from our back deck

 

Our "Bird Pond" out front

Our “Bird Pond” out front

I think the Trees Look Beautiful!

I think the Trees Look Beautiful!

Winter can have its fun side. Michigan has the most miles of groomed snowmobile trails in the United States. That activity is definitely on my “bucket list.” I understand that there are inns and restaurants that are strategically built along certain of the larger, more traveled trails. That sounds like fun to me! There are other activities like ice fishing, skiing (cross country, mostly; but there are also several ski ‘mountains’ in the state), snowshoeing, and skating.

Plymouth Ice Festival 2013

Plymouth Ice Festival 2013

One of the prettiest spectacles every year is the Plymouth Ice Festival. It is held in the pretty town of Plymouth (imagine that), Michigan which is in the Detroit Metropolitan area. The Ice Festival is held on the third weekend of every January.  This year we visited on Saturday. The weather was unusually warm (into the 40s). Normally, that would be welcome in a year where we’ve already had temperatures below zero Fahrenheit. Unfortunately, those temperatures are not so welcome when you are carving and displaying ice sculptures.

Ice Sculpture

Ice Sculpture

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Ice Carving Dear to My Heart

Ice Carving Dear to My Heart

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The festival encompasses the entire village, but the main display area is in the town square. This is where the competition takes place. There are teams from local universities. For example, the team below is from the University of Michigan (GO BLUE)!

 DSC_0007

DSC_0023

DSC_0012

Local businesses sponsor carvers, also. In some instances, they are placed in the square for judging. In other cases, they are displayed outside the local business. One of the most interesting displays was the ‘Ice Bar’ outside a local restaurant.

Sponsored by Local Grocery Chain

Sponsored by Local Grocery Chain

In Front of Shop

In Front of Shop

 

Poor Owl was Melting

Poor Owl was Melting

Gingerbread "Sculpture"

Gingerbread “Sculpture”

Svedka Ice Bar

Svedka Ice Bar

One of the few artists who probably didn’t mind the temperatures was this fellow who was using his chainsaw to carve wood. I really liked his work. The photos below show some of his sculptures. What do you think?  There are some excellent chainsaw sculptors in our region. We actually have two works by an artist from Mikado, Michigan at our home. I’ll show you those in a later post.

All Carvers Didn't Work in Ice

All Carvers Didn’t Work in Ice

 

Great wood work

Great wood work

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Crane

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Fish & Turtle

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Owl in Progress

Up Next:  More Michigan Winter Fun

 

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Hot Bourbon Ball

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This post is a little different from what you’ve come to expect from me. Yes, there will be more about our boy Nitro in the very near future, but I thought that I’d share another side of who I am and what makes me tick.

A Foot of Snow on the Grill

A Foot of Snow on the Grill

So what does a Kentucky-bred, Florida-raised, FSU (Florida State University) alum, who now lives in Michigan do when the snow keeps falling and there’s a minimum of a foot of the fluffy stuff on the ground? Well, I try to figure out a new bourbon recipe (hot of course).

Snowing - STILL!

Snowing – STILL!

This is what I call …

 

Hot Bourbon Ball

 

Put the kettle on

Get the Cocoa into the Mug

Get the Cocoa into the Mug


Put dry hot chocolate (your favorite kind) into a mug

Add the bourbon

Add the bourbon

Measure in 1.5 oz. Devil’s Cut bourbon (I prefer this bourbon for this recipe as it has an assertive flavor that doesn’t get hidden with the other ingredients.)

1 oz Dark Creme de Cocoa

1 oz Amaretto

Stir!

Stir!

Stir all together to fully incorporate

Add the Cream

Add the Cream

Add 1 oz Heavy Cream

006 Stir

 

Add the Hot Water

Add the Hot Water

Add the hot water

YUMMY!!!

YUMMY!!!

Top with whipped cream (you could also add chocolate curls if you wished)

 

Enjoy!

         

Up Next: Nitro Update

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Winter Visitors

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I’ve been conspicuously absent lately. Lots going on with puppies and family. All is good and I’m anxious to get back to blogging.

If you’ve been following my blog, you may be able to tell that this has been an extremely odd winter in Michigan. Temperatures have been freakishly warm and there’s been very little snow. I seriously doubt that any of the “normal” winter activities (skiing, dog mushing, snowmobiling) have been or will be able to take place this year. That said, we did have a couple of inches of snow on Sunday, Jan. 29.

Snowy Sunday

In the winter, we occasionally have interesting birds come to visit with us. As hard as it is to envision, Michigan IS the southern migration area for some birds who make their summer homes in northern Canada and the Arctic. We almost always keep Black-capped Chickadees, Tufted Titmice, a couple of Carolina Wrens (who are at the very northern boundary of their normal area), all kinds of woodpeckers, Cardinals, Blue Jays, and Mourning Doves.

Northern Flicker @ Feeder

In the winter, however, we regularly get American Tree Sparrows, Dark-eyed Juncos, Brown Creepers. That Sunday, I looked out the window and – much to my surprise – there was a Common Redpoll. It’s a very pretty little bird.

Common Redpoll

Common Redpoll (w/Cardinal & Goldfinches)

This is only the second year (of the 8 winters I’ve been here) that we’ve had a redpoll visit with us. I’m still looking for Pine Siskins, Red-breasted Nuthatches, or any variety of crossbill.

Redpoll (right), Cardinal & Goldfinch

If the weather continues relatively snow-free, it’s not very likely that we’ll see any more redpolls, but one can only hope and keep close watch.

Keeping Water Open

Up Next: Mummo’s Piano

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The Joy (?) of Snow

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I’m going to start this post off with a reminder. I was born, raised, and lived my entire life in the south (well, except for 6 months of college in England). My entire childhood was spent in St. Petersburg, Florida. I went to one elementary school (Harris Elementary grades 1-6), one junior high school (Meadowlawn grades 7-9), and one high school (Northeast grades 10-12).

 

I’m not saying my early life was deprived – far from it – it’s just that palm trees and live oaks look the same in January as they do in June. Seasons just don’t happen the same as they do in more northerly climes. Our “spring” flowers were photos. Autumn leaves were cut from construction paper. Snowflakes? Well, they were made from paper doilies.

 

I remember that it actually SNOWED one day when I was in elementary school. All the teachers released all the kids to run around in the recess yard. We were trying to catch the little flakes on our tongues. That was the first and only time I saw snow until I was much older, while on a trip to North Carolina.

 

Fast forward to 1981 – Atlanta. I lived in the Atlanta area until 2003. I adore Atlanta! There’s are so many reasons why (proximity to family, the ability to start to be in my mountains in a matter of only a little over an hour, etc.) One of the most exciting things about living in the Atlanta area is that there are four distinct seasons there. Yes, there was even the occasional snow. Of course, snow there usually falls, looks pretty for a couple of hours and then is gone. It was very rare to get enough snow to build a snowman or to make snow angels.

 

Since August of 2003, I’ve lived in Michigan. Michigan still leads the country in lack of employment; but, if there’s one thing there is NO shortage of, it’s snow! I remember when we used to come up for visits – almost always at Thanksgiving. I’d ask my dear mother-in-law if there was going to be snow. She’d laugh at me and say, “hopefully not!” I’d be disappointed. I couldn’t understand why she would not want snow. As I said, I live here now. I understand.

 

Now, don’t get me wrong. Snow can be a very beautiful thing! The silence of the air after a heavy snow is amazing. If you get lucky enough to get a bright, blue, sunny day while the snow is on the ground, it’s gorgeous. I especially like the very, very cold snows. The flakes are smaller, lighter and they sparkle like millions of tiny diamonds in the trees, shrubs, and on the ground. Every turn of your head brings thousands of prisms into sight.

My dear, departed Chief

 

There are lots of things to do in the snow. One can actually make a for-real snowman! Snow angels stay there until more snow covers them up. The dogs love to play in it. There’s snowmobiling. Each year, I say we just have to give that a try – maybe we will this year. People cross-country ski. There are even a few hills where downhill skiing is also possible. I even own a pair of snowshoes! (More about snowshoeing in a later post.) There are even a few people who mush (dog sled) on the paths behind our house! I know lots of people who await the snow with the same excited anticipation every year.

 

So, why do I now understand why my late mother-in-law hoped there wouldn’t be snow at Thanksgiving? Because I know the “flip side” of snow. Lets go one-by-one.

 

Driving – For some unknown reason, people who have driven in snow for years and years all of the sudden become terrified rookies. Every year! I just don’t understand. Usually, the salt trucks are out well ahead of the main traffic periods. The road can be almost completely clear, yet folks will crawl along as though the entire route is covered with black ice. Now, THAT is a real menace. You do have to be careful around black ice. For those of you who are uninitiated, black ice is when the pavement gets a light covering of ice that you can’t see until you’re right on it. Traction goes out the window, so don’t try to brake while on it. I foresee another whole blog on the joys of transportation…

 

Walking – There’s just something about gamboling around in snow up to your knees. It can be lots of fun – until you get tired – and tired you will get. The energy expenditure to move around with the extra resistance is not to be taken lightly. Then you’re wet and cold up to your knees. You can barely feel your feet. Your goose-bumps have goose-bumps. Then there are the icy patches on walks, drives and stairs. Vigilance!

 

Shoveling Snow – Every year, there are reports of people having heart attacks while shoveling snow. There really is a “right” way to do it. I have learned this, but it still can be taxing. I know how to clear the snow without twisting my back. I know to push the snow – which is better than trying to pick it up. Shoveling snow can also be lots of fun! Yes, it can. It’s a riot when one of your dogs (in this case, Sydney) likes to bite at the snow and the shovel. She has managed to turn snow shoveling into a game. As you can see from the photo, Sydney really loves this game.

 

Clearing the Drive – This is Jim’s job. We do have a very good snow-blower, but it’s still quite a chore. As you can see, our drive is pretty long. It’s also somewhat steep. Jim does a great job, though. He’s understandably exhausted when it’s done. These photos show it’s not a chore to be taken lightly.

 

Is Spring Ever Coming? – Sometime every year (usually around March), one begins to wonder if Spring will ever come. Sad thing is that you pretty much have to wait until Mothers’ Day. Yes, opening day of baseball season has frequently been snowed out. That’s the absolute worst part about snow. It gets really OLD! Old snow is black, oily and totally yucky. That’s the only word I can think of that truly expresses how old snow looks. I always thought that surely it would still be white and soft as we live pretty much in the woods. Nope. It still gets covered with dirt and soot. It’s nothing as nasty as the snow on the streets, but it does get dirty. Bird seed (and other birdy things), tree soot, smoke from chimneys, all cover the snow.

 

Rereading this makes me sound like a chronic complainer. I really am not. I love seasons and have always wanted to live someplace that has four distinct seasons. We do have four distinct seasons. Spring is beautiful, summer doesn’t get too hot, and autumn is ablaze with amazing color. All three of these usually have hummingbirds in them, too! It’s just that winter – here – lasts almost six months. The other three seasons have to get squeezed into the remaining six.

 

Ah heck, maybe I’ll just go snowmobiling…

 

Up Next: Christmas!

 

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