Tag Archives: snow

Dogs (the April A~Z Challenge)

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On Friday, the 30th of March, weather reports predicted a big storm coming our way. High winds and cold temperatures were expected. Plus maybe several inches of wet, heavy snow. Maybe freezing rain. What did we expect? When this month had come in like a lamb, of course it was going to go out like a lion!

On Friday, though, it still looked like spring out here on the Fox Lake Road. The road itself was completely clear of snow and ice. The snow was melting away from the tree trunks, even in the deep woods, and my yard was more than halfway bare. Daily, the big dog was finding toys she’d left outside, that had been buried for months under the blanket of white. Daffodils were poking their first leaves out of the ground, and the rhododendrons were in bud. The temperature was in the 40s, and the sun was shining brightly when I got home from work.

“We’d better take advantage of this day,” I told the dogs, and they seemed to agree. The big dog, Darla, is always up for a walk. She headed right out, no need for coaxing. Even Rosa Parks, who often has to be begged or bribed to come along, was right on my heels. We crossed the road and took Cotter’s trail through the woods.

Sometimes the snow on the trail was firm enough to walk on; most of the time, though, every footfall broke through six inches of mush. That’s tiring, and hard on my knees. I hadn’t changed into boots; my cloth shoes were going to be soaked. On another day, I might have turned back. On Friday, though, the sun was shining, and both dogs were tail-wagging along beside me. We walked the whole distance in, then back out. We were all pretty proud of ourselves for it, too!

The storm did come through, as predicted, with about five inches of wet snow. Before it had time to melt away, another winter storm followed it. This morning, the dogs are barking up a storm inside as the young man that does my plowing clears almost of foot of snow from my driveway. I’m glad the dogs and I took advantage of spring weather when it made its brief appearance!

The 52 Lists Project #45

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List the things that make up your ideal holiday season:

  • Family. I’ve just recently come to the conclusion that I cannot go down to be with my sisters and brother, my daughters and their children this Thanksgiving, so I’m feeling a little sad. Other than a chance to see family, though, Thanksgiving is not much of a holiday for me. Neither is Easter…or even Halloween. In fact, other than Christmas, I’m not much of a holiday person.
  • Christmas, ideally, would be in my home, clean and decorated, with my family around me. unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case in many years. If I’m around family, I’ve traveled there; if I’m home, I’m alone. Well, there is Aunt Katie close by, of course, and cousin Bob; there are the dogs, always. It’s not so bad. I’ve gotten used to it, but it’s not “ideal.”
  • If my family were here, a tree would be a necessity. I’d pull out the lights and all the old ornaments, the funny angel for the treetop, and looped paper garland.
  • The old crocheted stockings that I made when my family was young.
  • Church bells. I walked home with my daughters one Christmas Eve night, along the harbor on Beaver Island as the church bells rang out for midnight Mass. It was perfect!
  • Chicken soup with homemade noodles cut out in the shape of stars. This was traditionally our supper on the evening we decorated the Christmas tree.
  • Music. I like the old albums: Burl Ives, Julie Andrews and Bing Crosby, but i also listen to the albums of lively songs I’d play for my little daughters at Christmas time.
  • Snow. Not necessary for all holidays…or even for any other holiday, but I do like snow for Christmas.

Lost Days

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A few days at home can really throw off the calendar. I got up yesterday morning early to do some bookkeeping so that I could go to the bank at lunchtime. Turns out, it wasn’t even bank day. Through the slow months of winter, we only have a bank on Tuesdays and Fridays, 9AM to 2PM. Yesterday was  only Thursday. Once I realized that, I realized it was “Timeout for Art Day” in blog land, and I wasn’t prepared for that either. Good thing I got up early!

Having gotten out of bed (that is – still – the mattress on the living room floor) at 4AM, I did manage to make it to my job at the hardware shockingly early: 8:10! That’s only ten minutes after we open! Which, I have to say, made it a very long day for me. I built shelves and rearranged drop cloths, shelf liner and contact paper, finished fine-tuning a large paint order, put away the last few boxes and totes of freight, filed the claims and defective goods paperwork, updated the discontinued products in the computer, started a new order, made a couple vet appointments, mixed paint, made keys, answered phones, took care of customers, and broke down the cardboard boxes. One customer called at 5:30 (closing time) and asked me to wait for him; I did. Another showed up just as I was pulling my car out of the parking place. I reopened for her, too. It was a beautiful day – customers kept telling me so – and I spent nine and a half hours of it inside.

Home, I greeted Rosa Parks, and we went for an exploratory walk. Three days ago, my garden was under a blanket of snow.

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Yesterday, it was bare! Impossible not to drop to my knees, to pull the dead stalks away from the new growth (Deep red globes that will be stalks and leaves of rhubarb! Bright green grass-like fronds that are the first showing of this year’s peonies!), to dig out the grasses, already taking hold. The ground is still cold and holding tightly to the roots; by the time I was ready to call it done for the day, my fingers were black, and sore from the effort. Nearby, Rosa Parks had also been digging and I noticed she was favoring one paw. I examined her for injury, and we continued at a slower pace around the yard. Daffodils are in bud, tulips are showing their leaves and the little Siberian scillia are in full bloom.

Inside, I had phone calls to make, then dinner for myself and my little dog. I had done enough! I was going to relax. “Shall we watch a movie?” I asked Rosa Parks. “Shall we go to bed early?” Before I settled in, though, to do nothing else for the night, I picked up my day book, to jot down my work hours and other accomplishments. That’s when I noticed the date: April 14th.

Here in the United States of America, income taxes have to be filed by April 15th to avoid penalty. I hadn’t even started that paperwork. Why had I not realized sooner?? How could I be so unprepared?? Unimportant, in comparison, are all my successes of the day. Out the window went all my plans for a relaxing evening and an early bedtime. It’s tax time!

Snowy Day Soup

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Yesterday, on Sunday, the third day in April, we got another snowstorm here on Beaver Island. It started coming down while I was at work. By the time I left for home, I had to scrape a couple inches of snow from my windshield. It continued through the day and into the evening.

I had a drawer full of miscellaneous vegetables in my refrigerator that needed to be used before they went bad. Sometimes I buy too much, when the shipment comes in to the store and everything looks so fresh. Other times the problem is simply the package size in my household of one. My week away put all excess vegetables on the “use right away” list.

I’m still struggling with a head cold I picked up when I was off the island last week. It seems that we isolated islanders are especially vulnerable to any stray germs, the minute we get away from here.

All considered, it was a perfect day for soup!

I started by sauteing one diced red pepper, the white part of two leeks and three cloves of garlic. I soaked the last of the beautiful mixed soup beans – hand-picked from my cousin Bob’s garden last fall – and put them in a pot to simmer. When they had softened, I drained them and put them back on the stove in three quarts of fresh water.

I pulled everything from the crisper drawer and went to work. A bag of cauliflower stems and leaves, a package of brussel sprouts, four carrots, a half bag of kale and the usable green parts of the leeks were all sorted, cleaned and chopped before going into the soup pot. It was about six cups of raw vegetables. I added the sauteed vegetables, a jar of diced tomatoes, about a cup of grated zucchini and a pint of green beans from my freezer, and a half cup of barley.

It simmered all afternoon.

At suppertime, I dished it up, and added freshly-ground pepper, a dollop of sour cream and a splash of balsamic vinegar to the bowl. Delicious!

I filled three containers with soup to take to work for lunches this week and put the rest in my big covered glass bowl in the refrigerator, to warm up one bowlful at a time for lunch or dinner.

Good soup for a snowy day!

April Fool

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I drove home last evening through a beautiful winter landscape. I snatched up my camera and headed back outside with the little dog. It was too wet for the shoes I was wearing, too cold for the light spring jacket I had on. I had too many pressing things to do, really, to even take the time.

No matter.

Last week, I was admiring forsythia in bloom along old streets in Connecticut. I was spotting trees in bud, daffodils and day lilies poking out of my flower beds, and the forest floor turning green.

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Yesterday, perfectly timed on the first of April, winter returned – at least momentarily – to Beaver Island. Big, heavy flakes drifted down and coated everything in fresh, bright white. As breathtaking as the first snow of winter and surprising enough to remind me how naive I can be. At my age, for my cynical self to still feel amazed at what the weather is doing, is a blessing in itself.

I couldn’t let it go by without notice.

Of course, it won’t last.

Yesterday, though, I set aside my list of obligations. Dinner preparations were delayed. Phone calls had to wait. On the first of April, I went out and tramped through the snow. In my soggy shoes, with my little dog jumping and prancing along beside me, I was happy to play the fool.

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Good Morning!

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Yesterday, I didn’t have to work at the hardware store.

I had a long list of things to do, anyway.

As usual, I accomplished only a fraction of what I hoped to.

By evening, faced with too much to do and too few hours to do it, I was working up to a big panic attack: stomach cramps, jitters, a big sense of failure, a black cloud of depression, the urge to run…the desire to hide…

I have been there before.

I took a deep breath…turned off the computer…made a simple dinner…read a little in a book that had nothing at all to do with any of the tasks looming over me…and went to bed.

It was the best thing I could do for myself.

Still, projects don’t take care of themselves.

I woke up this morning thinking of everything I’d left undone.

Two long days at the hardware store, the holiday with family then back to work through the weekend…when would I find the time? The energy?

As I made my way through the house in the dark, turning on lights and heaters, brewing coffee and getting ready for the day, these thoughts were looming. I felt stressed before I was even fully awake. I felt the pressure of responsibilities before the sun was up.

But then, as the sun came up, I saw what had happened as I slept.

New snow!

Lots of it!

The plow trucks have not yet made their way down the Fox Lake Road.

There is a deep drift of snow that my car won’t make it through.

I’ll have to wait.

All of a sudden, I have time on my hands!

Snow day!

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Weather

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It is not Winter yet.

More than a month to go before Winter.

The wintry weather came early last year. By the time hunting season was over last December 1st, we had eighteen inches of snow on the ground!

Winter came early and stayed late. It gave us record breaking cold and snow and ice. It tested our budgets and our patience.

We didn’t complain – not too much, anyway – because weather will do what it will, unconcerned about what our preferences might be.

In this part of the world, Winter will come, without fail, and all the details are just a matter of degrees.

And, far ahead of the calendar, Winter seems to have arrived once again this year, with big winds and lots of snow.

Driving home after work today, I traveled at a snail’s pace. The blowing snow created white-out conditions many times during that trip. At best, visibility was only a few yards. Snow was a foot deep in the roads and still coming down. It was hard to determine where the lanes and edges were. It was a relief to get home!

The weather will do what it will…but I sure don’t feel ready for it yet!

Fresh Snow and Trivia

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Fresh snow this morning!

I am so happy to see it!

It’s not the first, this year. We’ve had snow, cold and icy, clinging to the windshields, making roads difficult and reminding us that winter is on its way to Beaver Island.

This is the first “fluffy” snow.

This snow has power.

It has already softened the landscape. You almost wouldn’t know that I didn’t get my garden clean-up done. It’s no longer obvious that my lawn hasn’t been mowed since late August…and now it won’t be, either, until springtime! It’s impossible to tell that there are leaves under that snow, that I never got around to raking up.

This snow has greatly improved the look of my “to-do” list, just by blanketing all of the undone tasks in soft white.

It has also changed my outlook.

I’m starting to look forward to the holidays. I’m thinking of the inside activities that this weather is good for: reading, writing and art-making. I’m thinking of comfort foods: soups and stews and casseroles. Baking, for the warmth of having the oven going, and all the goodness that brings. Sleeping under layers of comforters and quilts. I’m thinking of all the little projects around the house that I didn’t have time for in the summer. It’s time now!

Today, after work, I’m heading for the Stoney Acre Grill to meet friends. Today, we play Pub Trivia! We have our own Powers’ Hardware team, and there is some good competition. It’s all good-natured competition, though, and it benefits a good cause, the Beaver Island Food Pantry.  It’s going to be a good day!

Spring is Here!

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Can you see it?

You have to really look for it, out here on the Fox Lake Road.

My yard still holds much evidence of the long winter.

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But this is Spring!

I can see it in the bare-earth muddy tracks in the driveway, that continue down my road and the next two…but then open on to the King’s Highway that is (I swear it!) bare pavement for the first time in months.

Inside, the heater is taking a rest, some days, when the sunshine warms the living space (I did not lose my home to the cost of heat!). A gigantic chunk  of snow and ice slid off my roof the other day (and the roof, now exposed, seems to be still intact!).

There is a small patch of bare ground outside the back door, reminding me of the chores left undone when cold winds and early snow interrupted. I could rake that little chunk of yard, and pick up the twigs, and have that one bit clear and all ready for the season.

If I look closely, in south-side corners and full-sun edges, I can see the daffodils pushing up through the frosty soil. I can see the leathery leaves, now, of five Rhododendrons that appear to have survived the Winter. My little cherry trees are loosening their branches, trapped so long under the deep snow, and lifting them up to the sunshine.

I have seen the robins outside my window. There is an old rotted log – too large to move – that sits at the edge of the yard. It must have insects in it, because the birds find it very attractive. Birdsong enlivens the evening air.

And the dogs know. The smells of Spring are out there, and they want to explore. A chipmunk (forbidden!) has started making his rounds of the yard and garden. The soup-like consistency of the snow will no longer support the weight of even my smallest dog, making chase impossible. Ah, well, there is a spot on the back porch where the snow has melted and the morning sun makes it warm enough for a dog’s nap.

And I know. From the lightening of my mood to the drag in my ambition, I recognize Spring Fever.

My friend Kevin (whose great blog is <www.nittygrittydirtman.wordpress.com>) said truly, “after all, little darling, in the words of Lennon, Harrison and McCartney, it’s been a long, cold, lonely winter.”

Finally, Spring is here!

The White Stuff

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Yes, it’s snowing again.

We’ve gotten plenty of snow here on Beaver Island this Winter. The last time I checked, we were at one hundred and thirteen inches (that’s over 287cm!!). And now it’s coming down again.

Our all-time record is 138 inches of snowfall in a season. We’re in position to beat that record this year.

That’s not the “white stuff” I’m talking about here, though.

Potatoes, rice, pasta…that white stuff.

The foods that seem so comforting this time of year.

The foods that are most friendly to my budget.

The foods that – according to the experts – women my age should avoid, for optimum health and weight control.

I’m pretty careful most of the time.

I center my meals around fresh vegetables from my garden in the summertime. Salad bowls are my usual dinner in warm weather, with chickpeas, egg and nuts added for protein and crunch. If I have a bit of meat, I’ll add it for variety.

In the wintertime, soups are the staple of my diet. I use stocks and vegetable purees that I put up in the Fall, from my harvest. Beans and grains give it substance. Meat, when I have it, for flavor. I make a whole-grain bread that’s a nice accompaniment.

Oh, I have my little indulgences: a glass of wine; chocolate in almost any form; coffee; cream; cheese…still, pretty healthy, for the most part.

Not this winter, it seems.

When the first wave of cold came through, I started wanting “comfort” food. The “white stuff.” Macaroni and cheese; tuna casserole; baked potatoes. As layer upon layer of snow came down, the craving continued. Goulash; fried rice; stew. The many (so many!) extremely cold and blustery days where the wind drove the temperature down and my drafty house was in a constant state of refrigeration, I warmed myself around the oven cooking one heavy meal after another.

Last week, I made a nice turkey soup. Broth and diced turkey that I’d put in the freezer after Thanksgiving, fresh celery, onion and carrots. “Substance,” I thought, “It needs some substance in this cold!” Barley was one healthy choice that I had on hand. I could have also chosen brown rice, wild rice, spelt, wheat berries or quinoa. I opted, instead, to make home-made egg noodles. You know, the white flour and egg recipe. That’s substance, all right.

One night I decided I’d just have breakfast for dinner. I mixed up a half-batch of pancakes. I made them in the silver-dollar size. Added blackberries that I’d frozen last Fall. Ate them with just butter. Looking back at the meal, I thought, “Congratulations, Cindy, you have just eaten one cup of white flour…butter added.”

Yesterday I made St. Scholastica’s Soup. It’s a lentil, barley and wild rice soup that’s one of my staple recipes. I usually top a bowl of the thick vegetarian soup with a dollop of sour cream and a splash of balsamic vinegar. Yesterday, because I had the time, and it was cold, I also made two loaves of crusty Italian bread so that I’d have that to go along with the soup.

I also took time yesterday to try on some clothes, in anticipation of a trip to the mainland. The snow is softening the landscape; it seems my shape has shifted and changed as well.

There is no doubt about it, it’s time to give up the white stuff!