As if to remind me to stay inside at my desk writing, the temperature yesterday morning here in South Colton was -22° though it’s a little “warmer” this morning at 5°,we are in for even colder weather over the next few days. The forecast has highs in the single digits below zero (F). Lots of birds taking advantage of the seed & suet I put out. We’ve had the usual lot of chickadees & a huge flock of goldfinches, smaller numbers of juncos, woodpeckers large & small, along with nuthatches & the bluejays, tricked out like 1960s Cadillacs. Yesterday there was a very large hawk –maybe an eagle, we only saw him from the back — perched in one of the snags down by the river. Both yesterday & today Carole has put toe warmers in her boots, donned many layers of clothing, & gone off to the barn in Crary Mills where she boards her horse to muck stalls. What a woman! And she splits the firewood, too! All I have to do is keep feeding the woodstove. Which reminds me…
Just went out into a bright, sunny afternoon to shovel the walks and deck clear of last night’s foot of snow. It’s cold — hovering around zero — so the snow is light and easy to move. I cut a racetrack around the dogrun in back so that the terriers wouldn’t be over their heads. Have to keep ahead of the shoveling, though, since the forecast is for another foot starting tonight. As I was taking a break & leaning on my snow shovel, I stood still near the bird feeder and let the chickadees fly up and down around me, cold enough that I could hear the beating of their wings. All the while I was there, a harry woodpecker braced himself against the pole with his tail and pecked at the suet I’d put out yesterday. The sun was remarkably warm for December, though the air was cold, & we were all enjoying it, I think, the animal pleasure of warm sun in mid-winter.
Cold this morning. Big fire in the woodstove. Clearing sky, river with its first skim of ice. I’ve been translating poems by Tran Huu Dung about the Mekong Delta where — I just checked — it is 80° at 7:30 in the evening. Should have arranged my trip for January & February. Here is a picture I took along a tributary of the Mekong a few years ago.
Usually we don’t get snow that sticks until well into November, but last night a foot of heavy wet snow fell. Toom me almost two hours to get home because the roads were blocked by jackknifed trucks. We lost power overnight, but it came back on around five this morning. When we went outside we saw that an old trapdoor on our deck had collapsed, so we can’t let the terriers out there until we get it covered up. Tree limbs are broken & the top of an oak tree out back is bent over and cracked. It’s still snowing, but much less now, so I will probably go in and meet my 4:00 class today. The forecast says this will begin to melt out tomorrow with temperatures in the 40s this weekend, but I went out this morning and spread sunflower seeds on the snow for the groundfeeding birds — I saw from the window a little flock of juncos looking desperate.
The days have been fairly warm, but the nights cooling. The leaves on some of the maples have just begun to shift toward yellow. Cassiopeia rises in the northeast at the end of our road in the gap where the tall trees open on the riverbank. There are still coneflowers & black-eyed-susans in the flowerbeds, but not much else. In the ditches the late blooming asters & fleabane proliferate; the milkweed is setting its alien-looking seedpods.Â The sounds of geese gathering on the river. Last week the flycatchers along the river seemed to be doing twice as much hunting, gathering strength for their migration; this week, most of them are gone. Now that they have stopped growing, I’ve been trimming back excessive summer growth on some of my bonsai, especially the rosemary, but also the pomegranates & natal plum. Waves of hard rain this morning.