Monday, December 27, 2010

After Solstice

The days are getting imperceptibly longer. We place our faith in things we cannot see, so I place my faith in the few seconds more of precious daylight as the earth wobbles its way into a new season. Meanwhile, I enjoy the feasts of light and colour that this season offers. The shot above was taken just after the fiery orb slipped below the horizon. The twilight seems to linger longer now and those streaks of pink along the clouds were for me a promise of things to come as well as a pleasure of the moment.

Homer's rosy-fingered dawn of the Mediterranean never had to contend with shining through a frozen mist--not snow or rain but a fog of pristine whiteness. The sun struggling to shine through that persistent frozen white mist cast a soft pink tinge over everything much like the light in the dressing room of a faded diva who has put a pink scarf over the lampshade.
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Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Spirit

The Christmas spirit very nearly eluded me this year. The weather has been cold, the economy and the political situation seem more and more nonsensical each day, and I have been sick. Not desperately ill, but at best in that zombie state between full health and in bed.

Christmas was not shining brightly enough to get through, but I woke this morning and pulled out an old favourite Christmas T shirt--a visual pun as silly as a Christmas cracker joke. It made me smile as I slipped it over my head. And then I went to find my Christmas music and a pot of coffee.

Wherever you are, I hope the Christmas spirit finds you, too.

Merry Christmas
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Friday, December 17, 2010

Lessons from a Seagull

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The new feeder is nearly empty and the suet balls are swaying in the wind. I am taking this in from the comparative safety of my kitchen window through wind blown snow or hail. I know I will have to refill the feeder and just hope to catch a bit of a break in the weather in which to do that. I sip my coffee and watch the birds teetering on branches or trying to synchronize their movements with the wind to catch the suet ball like catching the brass ring on a merry go round.

Before I realize it I have hatched an improvised feeding strategy. I take the opened bag of seed and cast it on the wind swept ground where the snow has been mostly cleared. I cast it by the hopeful shelter created by the straw bale and then duck back inside. Even that brief foray has chilled me nearly to the bone, but it works. Soon there is a cluster of birds getting at the seeds--with luck the snow/rain sleet won't bury them before they are eaten.

I talked yesterday with a friend in the States whose yard has won an award for habitat creation. It reminded me both how important it is and how even a little bit of effort can make a big difference. In time I'd like to make more habitat for a variety of creatures. We talked about what we might do together when she comes to visit. I look forward to that, but in the meantime, I took last year's feeders out of the sink in the garage where they had been soaking yet again to remove the last bit of old seed that has so far eluded me. I know that birds are susceptible to diseases from old food. But I give it one more try with the help of BirdSafe--something from the garden shop. They're drying now and I'll load them up and have them ready to go for the evening run on the mini-habitat.

I just got a phone call from another snowed-in neighbour. We were going to go out for dinner tonight--now we are hoping against hope that we'll make it out for tomorrow's Stitch n Blether--our monthly knitting get together. I told her about my bird feeding and she tops that--she tells me about making a cake for the birds--seeds and fat and flour and all things likely to be tasty to them. She used the microwave. But she has a friend who makes girdle (if you are American, read that as griddle--not a typo just one of those funny Brit things) cakes for her birds. She gets the fat that they so desperately need and seeds and I don't know what all and makes it into a proper cake that she can slice and share out with the birds. Apparently this is such a treat, that one particular cheeky gull will come and peck on the window if she is late in delivering it.

I had suspected it before, now I am certain. There is a birdy blog in which they are lamenting how slow we are to train but with their help we are making a better habitat for ourselves.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A Picture Story

I went out in the cold bright light of a snowy blowy day to take photos like this--placid sheep, snow clad reeds. The wind was blowing so hard that I had to hunker down and make myself as small as possible to get this shot. All this is within sight of my house, so I was not an intrepid explorer or sturdy hill walker.
And as I walked, I kept an eye on the sky. This little patch of maybe blue-maybe grey is a mighty struggle. The light made the peat and moss and reeds look pretty much the way I get to see them. But in a moment it was apparent that the blue team on the sky front had lost--at least temporarily.
I hastily took this last shot and stuck my camera in my pocket and began running back home. The wind was driving the snow into everything and no matter how many layers, the wind found some vulnerable spots. I heard a sheep complain. I never heard a sheep swear before, but there is a time for everything.
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Friday, December 10, 2010

And Now Floods

I was naive enough to think the floods would be only for our less fortunate cousins to the south, but water has its own secret ways. Our new house is up high--a disadvantage with winds, but and advantage with water. I guess you choose your element and take your chances. The old farmhouse regularly flooded at the back door as water ran into the close and overwhelmed the drain there. I am counting my blessings. That was cold, hard work.

Floods for us today meant swollen lochans that saw no apparent reason to let the road intrude on their space. I had thought the peat, which acts like a giant sponge, could take it all in, but the sudden melting of snow overwhelmed even that great earth sponge--at least temporaily.

The wind has now decided to have its own hooly. Earlier it was a hurrying wind, but playing second fiddle to the water, now in the dark it wants to claim centre stage.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

It's Melting

The snow is melting, but the sky is a tell tale grey--something is coming. More snow? freezing fog--yes, there is such a thing, or sleet or frozen rain or something in between? Edinburgh called on the army to help them dig out. Up here, farm vehicles went to work on side roads and farm roads. If you are a regular blog reader, you have heard about single track roads--those roads just wide enough for one car, which have the occasional laybys when one car meets another. So imagine those roads cleared--except for the laybys.

I had an email from a friend in Edinburgh this morning. I learned many things from her, especially a reminder of the virtues in poetry, so here's the poem I shared with her, picked pretty much at random from my battered copy of The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson

I dwell in Possibility--
A fairer House than Prose--
More Numerous of Windows--
Superior--for Doors--
Of Chambers as the Cedars--
Impregnable of Eye--
And for an Everlasting Roof
The Gambrels of the Sky--
Of Visitors -- the fairest--
For Occupation--This--
The spreading wide my narrow Hands
To gather Paradise