LAST BIRDS OF WINTER

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Slowly, the ice and snow is melting. Very slowly. Huge piles of frozen slush. The birds are still hanging around and we have had a bit of additional fluffy snow.

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Nothing serious, not enough to cover the ground that is finally exposed. The birds have been pecking away at the ground.

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I’m sure they are very happy to find some live food, some green. Even if it is just moss.

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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.

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.

snow shove solarized

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.

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.

ice dams february

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.

ice dam February 2015

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.

WORLD SHARING – WEEK 6

Share Your World – 2015 Week #6

What was the last time you went to a new place?

Last October. Skowhegan (Maine), which we had previously only passed through. Peachum (VT), which I had heard of, but never visited. Mexico, Maine, who knew there was such a place? And so many other places in between. New England is a beautiful place … even when we’re buried neck-deep in snow.

Morning in Peachum, Vermont, October 2014

Morning in Peachum, Vermont, October 2014

If you were or are a writer do you prefer writing short stories, poems or novels, other? And what type of genre would you prefer?

Well I am a writer and blogging is my game. I used to say that writing letters was my best way of communicating. But now, blogging is a lot like letter-writing. I like short form writing. I love the freedom to write something different every time I sit down at the computer. I spent my whole adult life writing long-form pieces. Huge books, full of technical material. This is like getting to eat dessert without having to first finish my mashed potatoes.

Out of your five senses (touch, taste, sight, smell, hearing) which is your favorite?

That is not really fair. I am a photographer, writer, and used-to-be musician. I can’t imagine functioning without at least pieces of all of them.

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If 100 people your age were chosen at random, how many do you think you’d find leading a more satisfying life than yours?

It really depends on how you define “satisfying.” There are things I miss which I used to do when I was younger. Horses. Casual time with friends, just hanging out, laughing and talking. Playing bridge.

winter snow deck

But really, I have what I need and what I most care about. Maybe there are people happier with their lives than I am, but seriously, how happy can you be? I think I’m pretty maxed out.

WHAT A SURPRISE! MORE SNOW!

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I know. You’re shocked. We are in the middle of another snowstorm. We missed yesterday’s storm, but we aren’t missing today’s and we probably won’t miss tomorrow’s, either. It’s past the point of ridiculous and moved into funny. It is the weather equivalent of a siege.

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Underneath that hump, there is a table … was a table … will be a table … when spring comes …

And yet … spring is not far. Five weeks by the calendar. In between, there’s a lot of melting and mud coming. I hope we won’t flood. We deserve a break. All of New England deserves a break.

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SNOWY CRYSTAL MORNINGS

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It snows and then snows some more. It has been snowing almost every day for a couple of weeks and there is no end in sight. Well, that’s not true. There is an end. Almost in sight. We call it spring. About 6 weeks away, in the future. We can see it on the calendar. We hold it in our hearts.

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In the meantime, we live in a land of white and snow. Deep snow and drifts. Icicles that hang 20 feet down from the roof. If I was to pick the moment when even I — tired though I am of snow and utterly weary of cold — stop and catch my breath from the sheer beauty of snow, it’s early in the morning after a storm.

Not a blizzard. Blizzards have wind that keep flakes from settling gently on every surface.

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A quiet snow where the flakes fall straight out of the sky and stick to every twig and branch leaving a frosted world. It’s the perfect picture of a New England winter. Elegant. Ephemeral. Gone in an hour — or less — as the sun melts the thin coating away. But for that brief interval …