Category Archives: Nature

A Cardinal, Icicles, and Pancakes

February is winding down, and we still have a lot of snow in our yard. Not at all unusual for central Maine. As we are probably at peak snow—at least we hope we are—snow-gauge Clif will soon be making weekly appearances so that we can have a pictorial record of how long it takes for our yard to be snow-free. Stay tuned for the big excitement in the hinterlands!

At dusk, the cardinals usually come to our feeders for a bite to eat before it gets dark. In my bathroom blind, I snapped a picture of Mr. Cardinal. Unfortunately the light was too low to get a real sharp picture of him, but I know how much readers who don’t have cardinals enjoy seeing shots of them. And this photo gives a sense of the dark evergreens in the forest on the edge of our backyard. This is a northern photo, that’s for sure. And somehow, to me, that flash of red looks so brave against the snowy trees.

Icicles are still hanging from the branches of the shrubs in our front yard. Lovely to see them glitter in the afternoon sun.

On another blog I read, there was a mention of American pancakes and how small and thick they tended to be.  While we do have mini pancakes, better known as silver-dollar pancakes, most pancakes served in American restaurants are large and thin. No surprise as America is the land of the big, especially when it comes to food. Not sure where the rumor of little pancakes came from, but never mind. Big, small, thick, or thin, they are all good.

I am lucky enough to have a husband who makes some of the best pancakes in central Maine. Maybe even the best. After so much thinking about pancakes, I requested them for our supper last weekend. While Clif made pancakes, I fried up some veggie sausages. Pretty darned good, and yes, Clif’s pancakes are thick but not small and utterly delicious.

 

 

 

 

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Deep Winter

In Maine, we are now in deep winter, a cold, snowy, brilliant time of year. Some people, especially those who are affected by the lack of light, get the blues in February or go stir crazy or a combination of the two. I am happy to report that winter doesn’t get me down. No, for me, that comes with March, just around the corner, and a category of its own in Maine.

While I love the hustle and bustle of the holidays, I am grateful for the calm of winter, a time to write, read, and perhaps do a bit of organizing, although I never get too far with this. I find February restful—unless, of course, there is a big storm—and hunkering down at night is soothing rather than dreary.

Here was the temperature this morning, before I went out to take pictures. Cold but not brutal, the way it has been in the Midwest.

Our driveway is no longer glare ice, and although care is still needed, walking to the car or the mailbox is much less treacherous than it has been.

I always like to see our cozy, little home tucked in the snow.

Out back, the patio is completely covered with snow. No patio nights for a while, no glimpses of flowers as there are with some of my blogging friends.

Then there is the forest, mysterious any time of year.

Hard to resist a season where there are so many blue shadows in the yard and in the woods.

 

 

A Jolly Good Storm

Not long ago, on BBC News, I heard a reporter state that President Trump had had “a jolly good rant.” That certainly was one way of putting it.

“Jolly good” has stuck with me, and Clif and I now use it to describe various things, such as my kitchen after I am done cooking—a jolly good mess—to yesterday’s first big storm of the season. Hence the title of this piece.

This particular storm—named Harper, I believe—swept across the country from the West to the Midwest. Harper then headed to the Northeast, leaving lots of snow and ice, delaying flights, and bringing the usual mayhem that such a storm delivers.

The predictions for central Maine were dire: up to eighteen inches of snow, followed by wind and freezing rain. As I’ve noted before,  Mainers dread hearing the words “freezing rain,” which can cause power outages, sometimes for a week or more.  We can take the snow, but oh do we hate to lose our power, especially when it’s very cold, as it was yesterday and continues to be so today.

Back in the day, in the 1960s and 1970s, when I was young, ice storms were very uncommon in Maine. I can remember one, when I was eleven or twelve, and I was so enchanted by the sparkling branches that I rode on my snowmobile and took pictures of what looked like a fairyland to me. (I’ve always had a fanciful mind.) If we lost our power, it didn’t make an impression on me, so it couldn’t have been for very long, if indeed we lost it at all.

How different from today, where every storm in the winter brings the potential of freezing rain. Fortunately, most times there’s just a thin glaze of ice, but still, we hate and fear freezing rain.

I am happy to report that while Storm Harper brought sleet, which ticked against our windows, he did not bring freezing rain. Also, we only got eight inches of snow, well below the predicted amount of eighteen inches. I know this is bragging, but for most Mainers, eight inches of snow is nothing to worry about, especially if there isn’t freezing rain.

So all in all, it was indeed a jolly good storm.

Still, there was clean-up to be done. Even with only eight inches of snow, getting out the front door was not easy.

Our shovel, which we keep handy,  was tucked in the snow, as were our blue buckets of sand and salt..

Once outside on the deck, I could survey our winter wonderland.

Finally, here is Clif with Little Green.

Today, we have a bit more cleaning to do. A couple of inches of snow fell last night, and as it always does, the town’s snowplow has left a ridge of snow at the end of the driveway.

Winter is definitely here.

The Still Cold of January

The merry hubbub of December is over, and, as always, I am sorry to see it end. Somehow, all the holiday preparations and bustle brighten this darkest month of the year.

Yet January in Maine has its consolations. Yes, it is one of the coldest months, but it is also one of the most beautiful, alternating between snowy days and then days so still, bright and blue  you can hardly stand the glory.

Wednesday was a bright and blue kind of day, and as I was out doing errands—mailing a book, stopping at the library, going to the grocery store—I brought my wee camera along. I knew I would find plenty to photograph.

I am a sucker for dried or wizened fruit on a bare tree, and I took this picture at the town’s Credit Union.

At the Post Office, I saw cattails, spikes of exploded fluff, by the railroad tracks.

Across the road from the post office, on Maranacook Lake, little shacks have been set up for ice fishing, and they have been clustered into a charming, impromptu village.

Then it was on to the public beach, just around the corner.  So lovely, empty, and melancholy.

But on the ice, there were more shacks to brighten the mood.

And onward we head, toward the full moon of January, the Wolf Moon.

Celebrating with Seafood and a Whoopie Pie

It’s not every day that you get the first shipment of your new book. Therefore, when the box with copies of Library Lost came in, Clif and I decided to celebrate and go to the Red Barn for some of their delectable seafood and, of course, a whoopie pie. So good and so reasonably priced.

And speaking of Library Lost…my blogging friend Eliza asked how a copy might be ordered. Glad you asked, Eliza! For others who are wondering, all you have to do is click here, and it will take you to our Hinterlands Press website, where you can order a signed copy directly from us. The book can also be ordered through Amazon.

On another subject…the holidays are coming—tomorrow is December 1—and yesterday I went into the woods to gather pine and dried fern stalks for outside arrangements on our little deck.

I went midafternoon when this time of year the sun is setting and the woods are filled with shadows. There were lots of fern stalks by the little stream that runs behind our house and eventually makes its way to the Upper Narrows Pond.

There were some winterberries left, a bright punctuation against the white of winter. Fortunately, I had gathered winterberries a couple of weeks ago, when they were more plentiful.

And I came across this tree, covered with fungi.

Always something to notice in the woods, even in the winter.