Not the maker of plans and promises, but rather the one who offers faithful service in small matters. This is the person who is most likely to achieve what is good and lasting.
~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
The light near sunset yesterday was simply amazing. That’s why I gave in and posted the tulips on one of my days off from blogging. It really was too pretty not to share right away. I also took some photos of the trees at the back of the pond. The light created rainbow hues in spots.
Yesterday evening, before the storms hit, I decided to wander back to the woods to get some Summer Solstice shots of the creek (as part of my contribution to Scott’s Assignment: Four Seasons 2011). I donned the appropriate clothing, including my ugly hat to keep the deer flies away, and slowly hiked to the back of the pond and down into the woods. I got stopped along the way by a few things that caught my attention.
Before I get to today, I should mention that after posting yesterday we got hit hard with rain. It came down so heavily that mud poured into the pond, mini landslides creating stripes across the pond.
At one point the wind steered the rain towards the back of the house in what I think of as a Window Washer. It hits heavily in sheets, leaving the windows nice and clean (on the outside) when the rain stops.
Today we awoke to snow showers that didn’t last too long. The temperature has been dropping. We’ll be back in the mid-30’s for a high tomorrow. It snowed again this afternoon, the entire time I was out on my walk. Big, fat, wet snowflakes that aren’t sticking. So far. (The last time I mentioned it wouldn’t stick, it did. So I’m not taking any chances this time.)
Spring seems determined to keep pushing through the cold and snow. Some of the flowers are close to fully blooming, mostly those along the front of the house that are somewhat sheltered.
It is wet, muddy, and boggy out there. The robins seem to love it. All the rain washed up a lot of worms. They are feeding well right now.
I walked around the pond, and back to the woods. I wasn’t able to go down into the woods because the creek has risen and will probably continue to rise for a few more days (or longer if we get more rain). It is now officially higher than I’ve ever seen it in the past, spread out across most of the low lying land of the woods.
The pond level is much too high as well, but the emergency spillway and the drain are both taking care of that, emptying the excess into the creek.
There has been little sign of the sun today. It’s downright dreary. Yet there are spots of color to be found, other than the flowers, if you look. I saw a gorgeous male bluebird showing off his lovely colors. The red of the robins stands out. A male mallard, with his green head, came in for a landing while I was strolling around the pond. Even the water on the pond is reflecting the blueish-gray of the cloud cover.
I hope all of these April showers (both snow and rain) bring us some lush and gorgeous May flowers.
The photos I’m using in this post were taken at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History when M and I went to Washington, D.C. last December. The exhibition is called The Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef. This is another of those instances where photographs are not nearly as good as the real deal. It is pretty amazing what the local crocheters and crochet groups managed to create. I saved the photos for a watery post. This seems to be it.
Apropos of nothing in particular: My mother taught me to crochet. It has been a long time since I sat down with a crochet hook and some yarn and created something. Hopefully it’s like riding a bicycle. All I have to do is pick up a hook and I’ll remember how to do it.
It stormed here in the Bogs last night. And I mean STORMED. There were many, many bright flashes of lightning and loud booms of thunder that rattled the house. The rain POURED. Torrents of rain. Early this morning one of the local weather people said we had gotten 3 inches of rain overnight. The rain, of course, melted the snow. The result? Water, water, everywhere.
M went down to the basement to discover that yes, indeed, the water made its way into the basement. It’s the annual February flood. Sometimes it waits until March if the rains start late. One year we had no flooding at all in the spring, but a hurricane blew through and left behind so much water that the ground was over-saturated and there was no place for the water to go except the basement.
Yesterday, without thinking about the rain and the snow melt, I sorted the laundry and left it in piles on the laundry room floor. We found it all thoroughly soaked this morning so today has been a laundry intensive day for me. It all has to be washed and dried before it starts to become moldy and musty. You’d be surprised how fast mold can form.
I had planned to start my Spring Cleaning Fest in a couple of weeks. Once again Mother Nature has decided I should start earlier than planned.
M and I had to carry out the throw rugs and area carpets that soften up the basement floor. It’s still gray and misty outside right now, but the sun is supposed to come out eventually and that should dry out the rugs and carpets.
This morning I was thankful for a lot of things, but two stand out. The first is the shop vac (or wet/dry vac). It is so much easier to suck up all that water with a vacuum than with a mop. There is one little area in the basement bathroom where the water continues to slowly stream in, and I’ve had to keep at that all day, going in every half hour or so to vacuum up the new water. Once that stops, I’ll do a good mopping with some bleach.
The other thing I was particularly thankful for was the return of my photos on the external hard drive. It just needed a reboot. But I like to think that talking nicely to it while turning it on helped.
Today’s outdoor adventures
With all the early spring cleaning of the basement upon me, I did not have a lot of time to spend outdoors today. I went out periodically to hang things on the line, to feed the birds, and to get in my full 30 minute minimum. There is a great deal of water out there. And mud. Lots and lots of mud.
The birds are enjoying all the mud and water, though. There were hundreds of them covering the front lawn when I went out this afternoon. There was even a small flock of robins. I haven’t yet seen the red-winged blackbird, our harbinger of spring.
One nice thing is that walking around the pond is much easier without the snow. I did not go down into the woods as the creek has taken over and it’s mostly flooded. See the two crossed trees in the center of the above photo? The creek bank is usually somewhere behind that. I’d like to take a ride around and have a look at some of the other creeks around here, but I don’t think I’ll have the time for it.
I did find this lovely surprise:
Crocuses!! The little squiggly green things from a couple of weeks ago are now flowers and leaves.
The daffodils are pushing their way up out of the ground, too.
Tomorrow morning should be interesting. It’s going down to 20 degrees tonight. I expect there will be plenty of ice out there in the morning.
M and I teamed up today to make Four Grain-and-Vegetable Burritos for an early dinner. It was an early and late birthday celebration dinner. Early for M (his birthday is tomorrow) and late for me (mine was last month).
We’ve made these burritos in the past. They are a little labor intensive, making it easier and faster if we team up to put it all together. It’s more fun that way, too.
Remember that resolve I made to sharpen my knives occasionally? I’m thinking of taking it back. After years of using dull knives, I’m finding the sharpened variety to be dangerous. I managed to slice into my thumb while cutting the top off of a leek. Ouch!
It was worth the bloodshed. The burritos were fabulous. Delicious. Really, really yummy. And filling. Very filling. You should give them a try.
Today’s Outdoor Adventures
It warmed up today, into the 30’s. But we had 25 mph winds to go with the warm-up and that made it seem as cold as when it was in the 20’s. There was some thawing of the snow on top of the pond and the ice in the creek.
I did not ski today. I intended to. But M went out early and said it was pretty brutal. The wind created big drifts in some places. Bare spots in other areas. We were supposed to get another 3 inches or so of snow today but the prediction turned out to be wrong. I think it snowed heavily for about five minutes this morning and that was it.
That’s about it from the Bogs for today. I hope you’re having a wonderful weekend.
Oh. Right. One more thing. I redecorated ye olde blog. Whaddya’ think?
Yesterday I mentioned that I love to cook but don’t like to bake. There are far too many rules in baking whereas cooking allows me to unleash my creativity, adding a pinch of this, a dash of that, and a handful of something else. When I was homebrewing, I made my beers the same way. There are, of course, some rules that must be followed. And some tastes that don’t mix well. In cooking there is a balance between the rules and creativity or individuality.
There is also balance in my home and kitchen. M likes to bake so we balance each other out in that regard. He makes fantastic breads. He even learned how to make gluten-free breads when I went gluten-free. Sourdough gluten-free breads. It doesn’t get much better than that, let me tell you. (Note: I am no longer living the gluten-free lifestyle, but I still don’t include many wheat products in my diet anymore. I feel better that way.)
Yesterday M made the fig bars you see in the above photo. I thought they might make a good subject for my food photography experiments. The photo needs a spot of color, I think. Or something. I dunno. It doesn’t look quite… finished.
Something to ponder
I was reading an article about skiing in the December issue of Yoga Journal last night. (I’m a little behind in my magazine reading.) In a section about cross-country skiing, the author wrote:
Balance is not something you achieve and hold on to. It’s more ephemeral; it’s a string of temporary successes, held momentarily, lost, and then discovered again. Skiing gives you a fleeting experience of balance with each shift of weight and each glide. But it’s not permanent. When you lose it, you just have to have faith that you’ll come back to it.
~ Carmel Wroth, “Cold Play,” Yoga Journal, December 2010
I like it. I like that it can be applied to life as well as skiing. The yoga poses included with these words of wisdom are a bonus. I’m going to give them a try.
Today’s Outdoor Adventures
We’re approaching the time of year when it feels like winter is weighing heavily upon us. Mid-January. Then the dreaded February comes along, the longest short month of the season.
Although I mean heavy in a figurative sense, there are some literal meanings as well. Getting dressed to go outside takes time and effort. You have to put on a couple of pounds of layers and boots. Hats. Gloves. Even so, the cold manages to find any vulnerable spots and slip inside the poundage of layers.
Walking is more difficult. The snow seems to weigh you down as you trudge through the drifts that are almost waist high. It’s a relief to find the spots where the wind has thinned the snow layer.
Today has been mostly gray. The flurries continue but with little accumulation. It’s in the 20’s and windy. I did not want to step outside.
The original plan was to wait until late afternoon and go skiing. Then I decided I better not wait. I knew waiting would result in me not going at all. So I put on all those layers. The boots. The hat. The gloves. And I stepped out into the gray and cold and blustery winds.
I didn’t intend to go far. Just far enough and for just long enough to meet my commitment. It was strangely quiet. Although there was food in the feeders, there were no birds at them. I topped off the food in the feeders and then found myself walking down the hill towards the pond. I would go to the bottom of the hill. No further.
I got to the bottom and my feet wanted to keep going so I continued on until I found myself standing by the creek in the woods, thinking how dull and gloomy the day was and wondering where the birds had gotten to. Perhaps they were feeling the weight of winter too, and had decided to stay inside.
The sun came out and lit up the creek, the ice, and the snow. Birds were chattering and cheeping and tweeting in the trees. In a split second, the world had changed.
Of course we all know the world didn’t change. My perspective changed. It changed enough that I was able to enjoy the rest of my walk on this wintry day.
The clouds came back and hid the sun again. The grays grew deeper and darker. On my way back to the house, I found this:
A little gift from Mother Nature hidden in the willows. I must have missed it when I walked by the willows on my way to the woods. To some, it’s just dried flowers left behind when summer and autumn moved on. But it brightened my day almost as much as the sun’s brief appearance. I’m not sure why. It just did.