AND THEN, IT WAS WARM AGAIN – by Marilyn Armstrong

It was bitterly cold and it snowed. Then, it sleeted. Eventually, it rained, but not so much around here. Mostly here, after the sleet blew through, that was pretty much it.

The Mourning Dove who waited for me to focus. He was very patient.

The ice and snow lay on the ground and the plow came and scraped us clean. Of course, if he hadn’t come, it would have been clear by lunchtime anyway, but what the hell. We’ve got plenty of money to blow, right?

Tufted Titmouse

I started to take some pictures, but on blue sky days, the birds are not nearly as interested in our food as they are in the forest because they are getting ready for spring.

A bright Yellow Warbler

The Warblers are back and the Goldfinches are changing to their brighter breeding colors. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Juncos decided to fly north, but with all the good food on the deck, they might just hang around.

Pair of Goldfinches

And moreover, it has been warm so often, there are live insects in the trees and the woodpeckers are pecking their hearts out. It’s going to be a bad year for the bugs, but I think I vastly increased bird flock will help keep it in check. My ant guy assured me that birds love ants and will eat a lot of them if they get the chance.

We use non-toxic insect killers around here for what I assume are obvious reasons. There are our dogs and all those birds. The Chickadees, Titmouses, the Goldfinches, and Warblers with their long, strong beaks.

And then, I decided to adjust my camera.

Bright yellow Warbler. Welcome back.

Lacking a “real” manual, there are lots of things in the menu — oh so many things in the menu — which say things like: “ADL – OPTION: YES/NO/OFF” without any explanation of what ADL does. I’m at a complete loss, so I leave it on “OFF.” Too many times I’ve changed one setting somewhere and the camera won’t work until I figure out what setting it was and under which sub-menu.

More Goldfinches

I wound up spending at least half the day setting my camera, then I had to go back and changed some of the things I fixed so the camera would work again. Like it used to, though I did change a few things and whether or not they will change anything, I do not yet know. By the time I finished adjusting the camera, it was too dark to shoot.

Downy or Hairy? So hard to tell!

I have a few pictures I took before the adjustment, though.

Oops.

AND THEN IT SNOWED AND WE CANCELLED THE DAY … Marilyn Armstrong

I’m not afraid of winter. I’ve lived most of my life in areas with serious winters, the most serious of all here where we live.

This year, we’ve had the least snow ever recorded for any winter. It isn’t that there wasn’t snow elsewhere. It’s just the storms blew out to sea south of here, or took a path past us and went straight into northern New England and Canada. So we’ve been surrounded by snow, but it missed us.

Snowy Goldfinch

Not this time, though this isn’t exactly a monumental snowfall. In fact, it’s just a nasty little snow and sleet combination. It’s the sort of storm that makes the roads dangerous without adding any of the beauty of the season. It lands on the ground and gets sodden then hard as a rock. Not a really fun kind of snow. You don’t build snow people from this kind of storm.

Woodpecker in snow

What you do is cancel non-critical appointments and wait until they clean up the roads … or the rain takes care of it for you. Regardless, we live on a pretty lethal road. People drive as if their four-wheel-drive cars make them impervious to road conditions. Maybe (only maybe) on snowy roads, but 4WD is no better for driving on ice than any other car.

Goldfinch in snow

No one seems to have conveyed this to the drivers. We have more fatal accidents on this road than on any other road in the state … which is saying something because Massachusetts drivers are not known for their cautious driving habits.

Junco on the railing

Once we decided to not test the roads, we settled down and I made chili, my favorite cold-weather dinner.

As soon as we get “weather,” the birds get crazy as if this is going to be their last seed, ever. The moment it started to snow, there were dozens of birds on the deck, knocking each other off the feeders.

This was one of those days when many beautiful birds appeared and the moment I raised my camera, vanished. Sometimes, I think it’s personal.

This Junco has an attitude!

I’m sure Duke’s excursions into the backyard don’t encourage the birds to get friendlier, though to be fair, he showed no sign of being interested in hunting the birds. He was just curious about them.

Junco atop the Frog

And for the day, my favorite show. There were not only a lot of birds on the deck. They were also very active. Lots of fluttering and flapping as they knocked each other off the feeder. Normally, we’d have filled the feeder today, but it was snowing a bit hard and there are still plenty of seeds left if they’d stop banging each other around!

It’s difficult to show the activity, though. This picture shows it as well as I think I can!

Some fluttering in the snow

A GOOD DAY FOR WOODPECKERS – Marilyn Armstrong

I really wasn’t going to take any pictures. For one thing, I didn’t feel particularly well and I really have a LOT of pictures. Thousands I think during the past three months.

So I was in the kitchen trying to make a sandwich. I wandered to the window and I looked out — and there was a red-headed ladderback woodpecker landing on the feeder, a cardinal in the flat feeder and before I finished picking up my camera, two more woodpeckers, both landing on the feeder in addition to a variety of other smaller birds.

I’ve never gotten a picture of a male and female downy (or hairy) woodpecker on the feeder at the same time while yet a third woodpecker was on the other feeder and a cardinal too.

Isn’t this a gorgeous bird?

I couldn’t take pictures fast enough. I also have managed to process a lot of them. Many didn’t need much processing. Other than a little straightening or cropping, the pictures all looked fine right out of the camera.

Another beauty!

So I did a little cropping, signing, and now, time to put some of them up for looking at. I hardly know where to begin, so I think I’ll start with the ladderback red-headed fella and tomorrow I’ll get serious about the two woodpeckers … or something like that.

Can you see the snow falling in the pictures? Because it’s snowing out there and it’s very cold.

THERE ISN’T MUCH SNOWFALL #writephoto – Marilyn Armstrong

Thursday photo prompt: Snowfall #writephoto

It had been warm for most of December and the bulk of January. Warm enough to find myself picking ticks off my dogs. In January when I normally don’t have to worry about ticks and fleas and other noxious bugs in the weeds.

I sprayed them all down with tick poison and ordered collars for all of them. Apparently part of our “new climate” is having to protect the pets from ticks all year round.

There are not supposed to be any bugs — any kind of bugs — in the grass in January. By now, we should have a hard freeze that will last at least a month or longer. Instead, we’ve had a few cold days, then overnight, a warm wind will blow from the south and suddenly, it’s sweater weather.

From the south?

What happened to the cold north wind, referred to by the weathercasters as “the Montreal Express” because it brought bitter winds and snow from our northern neighbor? Canada has been having weather as peculiar as ours. If anyone wants to know about climate change, he or she has but to look out the window.

We are in it.

It’s happening now.

A fellow blogger in Germany has not needed a winter coat until the last couple of days and spring shows up in Switzerland in February.

I don’t know what is going on around here. The birds have stopped migrating. The bears are not hibernating. The ocean is warm inviting sharks and whales to come much closer to shore than they normally do.

Waiting on the Toad for a chance at the feeder

We got two days of bitterly cold weather, snow, sleet, and freezing rain on Sunday and Monday. One cold (but not as cold) day on Tuesday and today, it’s 50 degrees (10 Celsius) and it rained away the ice and snow. But not to worry. The temperature is supposed to drop low tonight a freeze and liquid left on the ground.

Our house is damp and parts of it are rotting from too much rain. We’ve had more rain this spring and winter than ever recorded and it’s not over yet.

Is it climate change? Can you think of anything else it could be?

TOO MANY FLAKES DOTH A GREAT WHITENESS MAKE – Marilyn Armstrong

RDP Saturday – White

White. I am not white because snow is white and I do not look anything like snow. The whites in my wash are not nearly white enough and anyway, it’s all racist. Everything needs to be neutral beige.

The sky has cleared. It was sort of white. Now it’s sort of blue with patchy puffs of white. It’s getting cold again and they think it might snow Christmas Day, but they don’t know anything anymore because the weather is refusing to behave itself.

Too many flakes

If you use super-duper Tide, your whites will be whiter than white. I know this because they said so on television, so it must be true.

May our Christmas be dusted with the lightest of fluffy white snow, but nothing deep enough to plow.

COLD OUT THERE BUT HOT IN HERE – Marilyn Armstrong

Cee’s B & W Photo Challenge: Anything Hot or Cold

It was cold outside, but warm in the teepee.

It was delicious being in the teepee with the snow falling outside with a hot fire burning inside, smoke flying through the hole at the top of the teepee.

The lovely combination of cold out and warm within is one of the basic delights of humankind.


It was cold outside through the front window
Cold outside the back way, too
But the yellow gold of the teepee firepit was hot!

COLD! CEE’S FUN FOTO CHALLENGE – Marilyn Armstrong

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Cold


Is cold fun? It was okay when I was a kid, though I also remember trying to defrost my frozen feet. They make warm boots a lot better today than they did when I was a kid. I would have given a lot for a pair of water-resistant Emu boots … or any kind of Uggs!

Home during the blizzard
By the time the storm was over, we had twice this much
This is my favorite way to look at the snow — through the French doors

It has been getting very cold at night and sometimes, by day. We’ve been getting brushed by snow. Not really whacked by it as they have been further north, but it has been a very close shave. Soon enough, it will actually land right on us.