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

BIRDS, THE DUKE, AND GOOD MORNING WORLD! – Marilyn Armstrong

I wanted to use someone’s prompt this morning, but nothing fit and I don’t have much time. We have a doctor appointment in less than an hour, so we have to run — and it’s snowing. Lightly so far, but the roads are going to get slippery and I’d rather be home for the slippery part.

Cardinal in the woods

I stood at my bathroom window this morning and was amused to see how many birds were around. Waiting on tree limbs, on branches, in the bushes. I figured they seem to know when the weather is about to turn and like to chow down in advance. Then suddenly, all the birds were in flight.

In flight?

The Duke
Bright Chickadee
Tufted titmouse

It’s The Duke. He has jumped the fence (you can’t keep him in) and is examining — but not chasing — the birds in the backyard. He isn’t supposed to BE in the backyard because we have a fenced front yard. Not for him, but for every other dog we’ve ever had. Just that The Duke is a flyer and I thought he’d stop flying so high as he got a little older.

I was wrong. He’s getting increasingly airborne.

Lately, he has taken to leaping the fence and jumping into the driver’s seat, looking eager. “Dad, can I drive?”

No Duke, you don’t have a license. Pass your written exam first.

Junco

Eventually, I mentally push him back into the house and luckily, he has no interest in the road. Just the woods. He likes hanging around the woods.

But he scattered all my birds this morning and only the sound of me opening the treats carton got him back inside.

A few pictures and we’re outta here. Now it’s REALLY snowing.

I think maybe we aren’t going to the doctor. If it keeps up like this, it is going to be icy and unplowed and now, I can’t even see the road from the front window. Not an emergency. It’ll wait till next week.

It wasn’t supposed to start until around four or five. OH well. I should have known when they canceled school last night that they weren’t sure when it would start. We’ve had a lot of school bus accidents and why they don’t fit them with snow tired, I still don’t understand. But I guess we’re home for a little while. Maybe the birds are back?

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.

FUN FOTOS IN BLACK AND WHITE – Marilyn Armstrong

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Black and White

Black and white … well, that’s easy enough. I avoided the temptation to make all the pictures of birds, probably because all the pictures I’ve taken recently have been ice, snow, or birds.

Mostly … birds.

So I only made three bird photographs. The rest of the pictures are other things, including ice and snow because we have quite a bit of it right now.

Three hungry birds on a cold Tuesday afternoon
A well chilled Junco on the toad
Silhouettes – Palm trees in Phoenix

The funniest thing about this picture is that me and my friend Ben took the same identical picture. He was sure this was his until he realized that mine was taken with a camera on 180 dpi and his would have been 350 … yet they were identical in every detail. All I could think of was we stood in the same place and framed the picture the same way.

Snowy trees in my woods
Route 201 to Skowhegan, Maine
A black & white woodpecker in black and white

WOODPECKERS: NAME THAT BIRD! – Marilyn Armstrong

I am not particularly great at identifying birds, especially since from watching them, I’m come to realize that books and websites notwithstanding they don’t necessarily look exactly like the picture on the computer or the book.

The black and white “laddering” may be complete, or askew, or have a white stripe where none of them has a white stripe. The head may have a BIG red patch, a little red patch, no red at all. A black back. A big white stripe down the back or a big black stripe down the back. Or a ladder-back.

They are all woodpeckers (or flickers, who really are woodpeckers by another name). These are all my woodpeckers. Anyone who cares to jump into the fray is free to tell me what they think this bird is.

The only thing we need to agree on is that they are woodpeckers of some kind. Some of bigger and some are smaller. A big downy and a small hairy woodpecker are essentially identical and the flickers just ruin your concentration. Somewhere in the woods is a big Pileated Woodpecker, but I don’t think he will ever get close enough for me to get a clear picture of him. He is not “human house” friendly and it’s possible he won’t eat seeds.

I don’t have suet because the squirrels would get it before the birds anyway AND I have no place to hang a third feeder. My backyard, once the snow falls, is impenetrable. I can get to the deck usually unless we’ve gotten a 2-foot blizzard.

Following last night’s snow — I think we might have gotten three inches, all told, it has begun to rain and if we don’t get that freeze tonight, the snow should magic itself away in a day or two. Meanwhile, I’m not going any further than the coffee machine in the kitchen — and the fall of yesterday is really hurting today.

I’m one of those funny people who feel fine the day of the accident and really hurts 24-hours later. I and my heating pad have had (ahem!) a warm relationship this morning.

MITIGATION? I SEEK IT! Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Mitigate

I went up the driveway to the car this morning. We are expecting a particularly ugly storm tomorrow and I needed to make sure the front of the car was well-wrapped. It is supposed to be snow followed by freezing rain and sleet. Then, a flash freeze.

All of my least favorite weather wrapped in one big mess.

The freeze means the ground will be covered by — as close as nature can come to it — frozen cement. We’ve parked the car at the top of the driveway so the plow can get through, assuming it’s deep enough to use a plow … and the plow doesn’t slide down the driveway and crash into the house.

Stranger events have been known to happen.

It’s also the day on which the Pats play the Chiefs in Kansas. That should be some kind of mitigation because they’ve been playing pretty well — but Kansas will have just gotten the same storm. The field will be bitterly cold and just icy enough to make staying upright problematic. Both teams are used to playing in bad weather so there’s no advantage for either side — and the Chiefs are the favored team. Usually, that just makes the Pats more competitive, but it’s the end of the season and everyone is damaged.

Football’s a rough game.

Our leaf-covered bunny slope — AKA our driveway.

I fell down on my way back down the driveway. Up is more difficult, but down is treacherous. Except — it wasn’t slippery. It’s the L.L.Bean boots I was wearing have a very hard sole which doesn’t grip the surface which is old and even in the summer is slippery. My feet came right out from under me.

For once, my back didn’t take the hit, but the back of my skull took a solid thwack. I’m still dizzy.

Meanwhile, to make this weird weekend even weirder, I discovered my dogs have ticks. How did they get ticks in January? I suppose the days warmed up just enough to make the ticks hungry … so I had to order tick collars for all of them  — a pretty penny for three dogs. Bonnie is the one on whom I found the ticks, but I have to assume where one dog has ticks, so do the other two.

Overall, I’m not seeing much mitigation to the complexities of life right now. It is what it is.

If we at least win the game tomorrow, that will help. A bit. I think I’ll go take some Tylenol. Drink more coffee. Eat a few cookies. If you can’t mitigate circumstances, have coffee and something crunchy which tastes strongly of cinnamon.

WEATHER OF THE SEASON – Marilyn & Garry Armstrong

Weekly Photo Challenge: Advent Weather

Sometime around now or next week or tomorrow, we usually get our first serious snow. The cold weather is coming … today was a warm, rainy fluke.

So here is my advent weather, a gallery of New England’s winter.