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Still It Snows

But so far we haven’t lost our power, and for that Clif and I are very grateful. We’ve had about ten inches of snow, but it’s still snowing hard, and I’m guessing we’ll have over a foot before the day is done, but we probably won’t get twenty-four inches.

Nevertheless, this means two clean-ups—Clif with Little Green and me with my trusty blue shovel.  We’ll be heading out pretty soon—at around 10:30—and we’ll go back out later this afternoon.

Clif has already been out once this morning to clear paths for Liam so that he could do his morning business. Here is what our yard looked like at around 8 a.m.

Clif plows a path to the backyard for Liam.

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The path.

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Our front steps.

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Will the snow reach the bottom of the lantern?

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Clif standing in the front walkway.

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Winter has certainly come to Maine, but as long as we have our power, we are happy.

Here Comes the Snow Again…

Gray sky over the house,

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crow by the feeder,

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and the flying pig nearly buried in snow.

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Here comes the snow again, this time a blizzard, with up to twenty-four inches of snow predicted. Clif and I are hoping we don’t lose our power, but we are ready, just in case. We have pails of water in the basement, cans of soup in the pantry, plenty of bread and milk, plenty of peanut butter.  Clif hauled in extra wood for the furnace, and we have several bottles of lamp oil.

We are ready. But man oh man, we hope the power doesn’t go out.

After the Snow

Yesterday, we got about eight inches of snow, and more is expected on Sunday and then again next week. It’s shaping up to be quite the snowy winter. Thank goodness for Little Green. Once upon a time, Clif, the girls, and I shoveled it all by hand. Those days are gone, gone, gone, especially since it is just two of us here at the little house in the big woods.

Cleaning up after a storm is a lot of work, but the snow does leave our yard and home looking like a winter wonderland.

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Our cozy home tucked in the snow!

 

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Ariel, the flying pig, is about to be buried.

 

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A frosted arrangement on the deck.

Today, I’ll be making apple pie, and our friends Cheryl and Denny will be coming over for an afternoon tea.

Nothing like pie on a cold winter’s day. (The one below is from another time.)

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The Snows of February

On Tuesday we had a nice little snowstorm where the snow was light and fluffy, and we didn’t get too much—five inches, maybe.

This meant that on Wednesday, it was time for Clif to put on his warm clothes, plug in Little Green, and do some cleaning.

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After a snowstorm, it is always so pretty at the little house in the big woods. I love the blues on the snow and the sweep of it across the yard and into the woods.

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In my arrangement on the porch, it looked as though the dried flowers were wearing a snow cap.

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And a pileated woodpecker decided the tree at the end of the driveway was the perfect place to search for lunch.

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Clif and I discussed whether the tree should come down, but, in fact, in the backyard we have several trees with similar holes, and they have been standing for years. But we’ll definitely keep an eye on this one.

We’ll also be keeping an eye on the weather as a nor’easter blows up the northeastern seaboard. New York and Massachusetts are supposed to get the worst of it, but the Maine coast will probably get its fair share. In central Maine, the prediction is for six to eight inches of snow. We shall see.

One thing is certain. Tomorrow, Clif will be out with Little Green, clearing the driveway and the various paths.

 

 

 

 

Dead Calm and Two Degrees

Yesterday, on February 1, a light snow fell softly until about noon. In the backyard, chickadees, nuthatches, and titmice clustered at the feeders. A downy woodpecker tapped at the diminishing suet—I need to buy more next week. Later a red bellied woodpecker came to the brown feeder. They are recent arrivals to central Maine, and it still surprises me to see one in the backyard.

With some trees bare and other trees dark green against the snow, the woods stand at the edge of the yard. The landscape seems so quiet, so still. I have always found January and February in Maine to be soothing. This year is no different, and I need it more than ever.

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I also need the company of like-minded friends—tea with Paul and Judy this afternoon. On Sunday, brunch with Beth and John. Clif will make his delectable waffles, right at the table, and the waffles will be served piping hot with plenty of butter and real maple syrup to put on top. On Monday, a visit with Esther after I drop off two copies of Maya and the Book of Everything at the Vassalboro Public Library—one for the library and one for the director.

Today, the sun is shining, making the snow on the trees look white and fluffy, almost like frosting. So beautiful, which is one of the reasons why I love winter even though I don’t play outside anymore.

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Despite the sun, it was very cold this morning—below 60° inside– and it was hard to get out of bed.  The fire in the wood furnace didn’t hold through the night, and when I looked at the thermometer outside the dining room window, I could see why. Two degrees above zero, but fortunately—to borrow from that great outdoorsman Dick Proenneke—it was dead calm.

Clif went downstairs to get the fire started. On went the gas heaters, and on the stove, a kettle of water began to steam. Soon there would be tea and toast made from homemade bread, and the best simple pleasure of all, a sweet orange to go with breakfast.

Despite the clamor of the outside world, life at the little house in the big woods continues to be good.

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Staying in Low Gear: A Week of Treats

As I have indicated in previous posts, after working extensively on Maya and the Book of Everything  for the past few months and then being busy with all the folderol of  the holidays, I have been oh so tired.  Add an inner ear infection, and I decided it was time to have a little vacation.

For Clif and me, vacations are very modest, and mostly include simple pleasures. We don’t go anywhere special. We just enjoy what’s around us and plan small, special treats.

On Monday, we went to Lucky Gardens in Hallowell and had a tasty lunch of Chinese food. Here is the view from the deck at Lucky’s, as it is known locally.

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On Tuesday, I went to visit my friend Beth and her granddaughter Piper. I was so enthralled with watching Piper play that I forgot to take pictures of her. Darn! Piper will be three in March, and her imagination has begun to blossom. She sang, she fed her dolls and stuffed animals, and she listened to their heartbeats with a toy stethoscope. This brought back sweet memories of when my daughters were young. I would often pause from my housework and listen to them play as they came up with various scenarios for their toys. The imaginary life of children is so rich and full.

On Wednesday, I went to visit my friend Mary Jane so that I could meet her new puppy Charley, a Russian Bolonka. Little Charley is as cute as a button, and he made us laugh as he frisked with his toys. Mary Jane hasn’t even had him a week, but there is already a strong, loving bond between them, and it was beautiful to see.

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For lunch, Clif and I went to Mia Lina’s, right in town, and had some of their delicious Lina bread—-bread with melted cheese to be dipped into a tangy tomato sauce.

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Tonight we’ll be going to a movie–20th Century Women—with our friends Alice and Joel.  It’s always a treat to go to Railroad Square Cinema and see a movie with friends.

It is good to work hard. Lord knows as a Franco American, I come from an industrious ethnic group that scorns laziness. But sometimes, especially as we get older, we need to rest. As my friend Diane put it,  “Time to pamper yourself and stay in low gear for a while.”

Good advice! Soon, I’ll be ready to get back into the swing of things, to work at promoting Maya and the Book of Everything and to continue writing the sequel, Library Lost.

But for now, I’m staying in low gear.

The Wolf Moon and March in January

On Wednesday, we visited our friends Paul and Judy. We had tea and apple crisp and plenty of conversation about politics. As Clif and I were getting ready to leave, Paul called, “Come look at the rising moon! It’s nearly full.” We followed him to the other side of the house and looked out the window. There was the moon, in its serene beauty as it crested the tops of trees.

“Oh, lovely!” I said. “And January’s full moon is the Wolf Moon.”

Clif took a picture, but our wee camera really didn’t capture the magic of the nearly full moon.

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On the way home, I admired the dark fringe of bare trees outlined against a deep blue sky. A January dusk.

Unfortunately, the weather turned on Thursday, the night of the Wolf Moon. The day was gray and rainy. Because of the rain and the warm weather—it was nearly 50 degrees—the landscape now looks like March. The snow is gritty and packed down hard. The driveway and pathways are thick with ice.

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Clif plans to sprinkle wood ash on the pathways. This is a dirty solution, but with our wood furnace, we have plenty of ash, and messy footprints on the kitchen floor are better than falling on ice.

The gardens are buried beneath snow, but a few of the taller plants can be seen, and the bee balm has been transformed into a many legged creature that looks as though it is ready to skittle away.

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In the afternoon, we went to the movies to see La La Land, and much to my surprise, it turned out to be my favorite movie of the year.  I am not a fan of musicals, but the musical numbers are kept to a minimum, and they really do help the story flow. La La Land is about two artists—an actress and a jazz musician—who desperately yearn to succeed in their careers and who fall in love. The movie is at times whimsical and even fantastical, but it is also grounded in the two main characters, played with quirky charm by Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. In essence, La La Land is about the artist’s journey, and the movie really spoke to me.

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The ride home was so foggy—all that melting snow—that it was a relief to turn into our driveway.

But today the sun is out, the temperature has fallen, and we are back to January. Yay! Now, all we need is a little fresh snow to cover the gritty mess brought by the rain.

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Deep Winter: A Restful Time

This morning, when I got up, the temperature was barely above zero.

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Little Miss Watson was staring out the window. Perhaps she was wondering when the snow would go away.

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Not any time soon.  The snow bankings at the end of the driveway are taller than the car.

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The wheelbarrow is stuck in snow.

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And the pig won’t be flying until spring.

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Even though I am partial to warm weather, longer days, and nights on the patio, I always look forward to January, a beautiful, restful month. Yes, it is cold in January in Maine, but I feel as though I have permission to slow down, to not worry about anything other than basic housekeeping.

After the holidays, always fun but hectic, this time for slowing down seems like a gift, and this year, it is especially true. After launching Maya and the Book of Everything and then galloping into the holidays, I feel—to borrow from Bilbo Baggins—like butter scraped over too much bread.

Deep winter. Time to watch movies and read. To make apple crisp and get together with friends. And when I’m more rested, to host a brunch or two. Clif’s waffles are pretty darned good, and my homefries aren’t too bad either.

 

Oh, When the Kids Come Rolling In

Two days before Christmas, and all is hustle and bustle at the little house in the big woods. To date, I’ve made peanut butter balls, frosted shortbread, and thumb-print cookies.

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Later this morning, as I listen to the last Diane Rehm show on NPR—I’m going to miss her!—I’ll be making chocolate chip cookies for when the kids and the two dogs come rolling in tonight. Oh, what a lively household it will be, and how I am looking forward to having them all here.

Here is a picture of Shannon, in a Maya-blue coat—no, we did not coordinate—at the beginning of the trip from North Carolina. She looks like a friendly version of Scrooge’s ghost of Christmas Future, doesn’t she?

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Happy Christmas, happy New Year, happy holidays to all! I will not be posting until 2017 so that I can spend time with my family. I hope your celebrations are filled with merriment and good food.

See you in 2017!