HIGH IN MISTY MOUNTAINS

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Dreamlike images remind me of Middle Earth. We are in Maine.

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These are the mountains along the Canadian border.

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Just look out the cabin door or drive a short way down the mountain. A breathtaking world of color, mist, mountains and clouds. Colors so unreal they feel like magic, as if trees are glowing from within.

And down in along Route 201 toward Skowhegan …

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We’re heading back in the middle of May. This time, spring. I will always feel at home where the mountains rise to kiss the sky.


Places – The Daily Prompt

DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME RETURNS WITH A CARDINAL

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I’ve started keeping a camera in the bedroom. My bathroom window has a phenomenal view of the hedge and woods. It faces east and when I first wake up, the sun is just coming up. Some mornings, the sky above the woods is ablaze.

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Since the first of the heavy snows at the end of January, birds have been congregating in the forsythia hedge behind the house. At first I thought they were feeding there. Maybe they were, though I think they must have picked it clean by now. Still they gather in the hedge, mostly dark-eyed juncos, but now our cardinal and miscellaneous other garden birds.

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It’s quite a distance, so I use my super-zoom camera. I cannot see the birds clearly with my eyes alone, but I see them through the lens.

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At first I didn’t see the cardinal this morning. I took a few shots of the sunrise and was about to put the camera away and go back to bed when I got a flash of scarlet. There he was. It was warmer this morning and my cardinal was not as puffed up as he was the other day. He was also at least 100 feet further away than the last time I saw him and I needed every inch of my 600 mm lens. It is not so easy to focus such a long lens on such a small thing as a little bird, but I got some nice pictures.

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I am hoping this is the end of winter. The weather guys on television are predicting warmer temperatures soon. In a few weeks, the snow will be gone, the flowers poking up through the mud.

Last Saturday, we set the clocks back an hour. We have returned to Daylight Savings Time. I take that as a good sign.

OUT MY WINDOW – WHAT DO YOU SEE?

I woke up at a little after six this morning and my fuzzy eyes were immediately caught by an incredible glow coming in my window. It was dawn, just before sunrise and the entire sky was blazing deep pink and gold. I had my camera just a hand grab away and took some pictures. My friends, the breakfast club juncos were out in force, too. Here are a few pictures of my morning.

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What do you see when you look out your window? My view is breathtaking.

There seems to be some kind of misunderstanding. We’ve had a very hard — if brief — winter. We’ve had a huge amount of snow during a rather short period. While it’s easy to not want to be buried up to ones lip in snow and ice, I wouldn’t swap life here in this beautiful valley for city sidewalks. Not again. Been there — for a very long time, including a decade overseas — and am done with that.

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Public transport is a wonderful thing. Throughout my New York city childhood and teens, I used the subway as a matter of course. I didn’t even think about it. I rode buses and subways. I was young, spry. And I had no choice.

In Jerusalem, I rode buses. Jerusalem is an old city with narrow roads. The price of petrol was high and parking was scarce, so I didn’t bring my car into the city, but I used is for lots of other things. When I got back to the States and moved to Boston, I never used the T. By the time I moved to Boston, I was done with hauling ass into smelly, noisy subway stations. Sitting in trains packed body-to-body. Moreover, buses have all the same issues as cars. They are subject to the same traffic and tie-ups.

Garry and I lived downtown, in the middle of the city. We could walk most places in halfway decent weather. I had great muscles in my Boston years. I was still agile enough to haul myself and the groceries uphill and not need to call an ambulance afterward. Later, we moved to Roxbury, at the edge of the city. There was plenty of parking on the street and in the parking lot of our condominium. Our doctor was in the suburbs. We did everything except grocery shopping in the suburbs. I was a wrong way commuter when I didn’t work at home.

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Garry worked at weird hours, so usually, traffic wasn’t a major issue. Then came The Big Dig, the gigantic public works project which tore Boston apart for more than 15 years. We fled to the country and we still live here.

Do I yearn for city life, with its restaurants and convenient public transport? Not really. I like an occasional jaunt into town, but I’ve no desire to live there. I certainly hope I’ve never conveyed that impression. Of course I’d definitely appreciate less brutal winters, but when you add up the columns … positive vs. negative… New England wins every time. I love the culture of the region. I love the natural beauty, the rivers, the valley. The birds. I love the farm around the corner.  The architecture. The intense blueness of state politics.

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I’m deeply grateful for the great, universal health care. Amazing health care and state-of-the-art, world-class facilities. And doctors, without whom I’d be dead thrice over.

Pity about the miserable winters … but I’m not going to trade living someplace I love for someplace with easier winters. Not in this life, but maybe next time.

MARCH FIRST, SUNRISE

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It’s March. The month of spring, the end of winter. My birthday. This morning, I woke up and looked out the window. It was sunrise. I wanted to go back to sleep. It was so early, but it was a pretty sunrise. Soon (I hope), there will be leaves on the trees. I won’t be able to see the sunrise until next winter.

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So I went to get my camera. But it’s not that simple. The dogs were waiting. I managed to get them out the door and grab my camera. I took pictures, then went back out to give the required biscuit. You cannot just make the babies go out into the cold and not reward them with something. How do you say “that’s so wrong” in dog?

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Now, as the light is fading, it’s snowing again. When I looked at the forecast last night, it said snow showers. Tops, an inch or two. Now the prediction calls for heavy snow, maybe five or six inches. Which, as these things go, isn’t much. The pile of snow on my deck is as high as my door. I can’t open my door. I haven’t been able to open it for weeks.

It isn’t supposed to snow again until Tuesday night. I’m relieved to hear that. Aren’t you?

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I took all the pictures with the Pentax Q7 … and without my eyeglasses. I forgot to put them on, probably for the first time in 50 years. Let’s hear it for auto-focus.

I’VE GOT THE WINTER BLUES – SWO8 BLUES JAZZ

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Published on Feb 15, 2015 via YouTube

My collaborator, Leslie Martel of swo8 Blues Jazz did the work. Composed the music and wrote the words. She also put the video together. Posted it to YouTube. I think that’s all the work. I supplied the photographs.

This video is called Winter Blues, a unique, fun collaboration between me and composer-musician swo8 Blues Jazz.

I have more than enough snow pictures. And plenty of snow! Since the end of January, it has been a fury of storms and blizzards, one after another. Before this endless month is done, I expect I will have even more winter photographs.Too much snow and cold.Trapped in a winter nightmare.

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It’s almost spring … isn’t it?

AN ICONIC SNOW SHOVEL

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By midday yesterday, the kid had finished shoveling the roof. Of course, all that snow had to go somewhere. As he worked, I could see huge piles of it falling off the roof in a veritable avalanche.

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Our already mostly buried deck lost any semblance of a pathway. One had recently been dug so the kid with the shovel could get up onto the roof to shovel it. Now, with our ladder stuck in a snowdrift until spring and the shovel, like a pennant, at the top of the big drift … I hope we don’t need to get out of the house via the deck. Because it’s impassable.

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Yet, somehow, I loved the image made by that big yellow shovel stuck in the snow. And of course, I had to take a few pictures.

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A final note. The ice dams are melting. Slowly, I admit, but there is a steady dripping from all of them. I am taking this as a harbinger of better days to come.

PRETTY. NOT FROZEN. WITH BRIGHT COLORS.

It snowed. Again. We had a couple of days intermission, but it doesn’t seem we’ve had a real pause between storms. I did not take any pictures of today’s storm. I wasn’t feeling inspired. More like depressed. I hoped we’d miss this one. It wasn’t a big storm. A itty bitty one, but still a storm.

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Maybe I’ll take a few pictures tomorrow. The new pictures will look exactly like the previous pictures. I’m limited to taking pictures from my doorways. All three of them — back, front, and side. Then there are views from my picture window, a few through my kitchen or bathroom windows. They seem unchanged, except for the growth of the ice dams.

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More snow looks the same as it has looked since the first storm at the end of January. Hard to believe until January 27th, the ground was clear.

I’m sure we will remember this as the most brutal and brief winter ever.

The buildup of ice along the back of the house is bad, but there’s nothing we can do about it until it warms up and melts. It’s too thick to break and pulling it off will take the gutters with them.

We’re going to have some repairs to do on the roof and siding when this is over. That’s what insurance is for. This kind of damage is covered and we will not be the only ones putting in claims as spring comes and we can to assess the damage.

In the meantime, Garry brought home flowers the other day. So, rather than shooting more snow, I thought I’d shoot flowers. Because they are pretty, not frozen, and colorful.

A COLD DAY

It was bitterly cold outside and downright nippy inside when I got up yesterday morning. The temperature was below zero, so I figured our aging heating system had been over-matched. I slipped into sweatpants. Added heavy socks and a pair of house booties. Warm sweater. Poncho over sweater. I was still cold.

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Cruelly, I forced the poor doggies to go outside. I apologized with biscuits and wrapped them in blankets when they came back. They brought winter with them. Damn. The house was cold. I looked at the thermostat. It read 64, but it felt colder.

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I got a cup of coffee. Drank it. Got another cup. Drank it, too. Still not warm. Especially my hands.

Owen got back from work and came up to tell me the boiler wasn’t working. Which explained the lack of heat. It’s a testament to how good our insulation is the house remained as warm as it did. Meanwhile, I realized my bathroom window was sealed tight by a thick layer of ice in the window. On the screen. In the frame itself. That in addition to the ice dams along the eaves.

72-One-More-Blizzard_09Owen had found a kid to come over and get the snow off the roof. He and the boiler repair guy showed up at the same time. The kid couldn’t move the ice dams at all and he’ll be back today to finish the snow. He was late getting started. Suddenly, it was too dark to work.

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Nothing but warmer temps and sunshine is going to melt that ice. At least it won’t get worse if the roof is clear of snow. Today’s storm is supposed to be tiny, just a couple of fluffy inches. I hope they are right. We have had more than enough.

Last night, I heard the funniest weather report. The meteorologist said there would be snow “somewhere in northern New England, probably New Hampshire or Maine. It will be very cold.” He wasn’t sure how much snow, or exactly when it would start, but he was sure there would be snow. Somewhere in New England.

You could give that forecast anytime during January or February in New England. You would always be right. You don’t need a weatherman to know which way that wind blows.

Next weekend? We’ll cross that storm when we come to it.

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Winter is ending. A glance at the calendar screams “spring is just around the corner,” even though it looks like winter in Siberia. It’s warm again, inside. Our boiler is chugging away. The cold spell won’t last forever.

Although I have no empirical evidence to support my opinion, I firmly believe spring will come.