Category Archives: Nature

March Misery

Readers unfamiliar with Maine might think I’m exaggerating when it comes to the horror of March in northern New England. Au contraire! And I have the pictures to prove it.

This was the view this morning from my office window.

Here is another one from a slightly different angle. Note the spitting snow and the hard, dirty snow banks.

Yesterday, Snow-Gauge Clif did  his measuring duty with his trusty red yard stick.  Hats off to Clif for looking so cheerful.

In the backyard, Clif doesn’t look quite as cheerful. Maybe it was the penguin-walking he did over the icy paths to get there. Fortunately, he didn’t fall and break anything.

Despite all the griping, I do have to admit that some progress has been made in the driveway.  There are actually bar patches of tar amid the ice and snow.

So onward, ho! April is just around the corner, and as I sit at my desk and write, I can hear a male cardinal singing his sweet song.

Spring is coming, albeit ever so slowly.

 

Bring on the Fried Veggies!

We are halfway through March. Although we are still buried in snow, there has been a softening in the air, and as Clif noted, last night the temperature didn’t get below freezing. As far as we can recall, the nights have not been this warm since late fall. So spring is coming, even though we have yet to see her pretty face.

In keeping with planning lots of events for this challenging month, Clif and I headed to The Red Barn for an anniversary celebration—forty-two years! We ordered their crisp, perfectly fried vegetables along with fries and, of course, a whoopie pie for dessert.

More than a little stuffed, on to Waterville we went, to the Colby College Museum of Art. There was a print exhibit, and this wonderful Japanese print caught my eye.  It’s by Utagawa Hiroshige (1797–1858) , and how I love this style. My photo doesn’t begin to do justice to this lovely print.

We also saw a strangely compelling short film called Flooded McDonald’s, where, as the title suggests, a “life-size replica of the interior of a McDonald’s” is gradually flooded.  Built in a pool by the artist collective SUPERFLEX,  this McDonald’s was created with such exquisite detail that it looked like the real thing. Clif and I sat and watched as the waters rose slowly in the deserted restaurant. French fries and burgers floated among paper, cups, trays, and straws. Ronald McDonald fell like an old Soviet statue of Lenin, and it bobbed around for a bit before finally sinking to the bottom. Sounds strange, I know, but this video brought forth all kinds of emotions about our consumer culture, trash, and rising waters due to climate change.

Click here if you would like to see the trailer for Flooded McDonald’s.

We are so lucky to have an art museum of this caliber within driving distance of where we live in rural central Maine.

On a more practical level, here is Snow-Gauge Clif to make his weekly appearance until the snow is gone.

In the front yard, I took a long shot so that readers could behold the glory of our driveway.

The backyard looks a little better.  For now.

As you can see, spring is still a month or so away.

Looking Up, Looking Down, Looking All Around

In some ways, not much has changed at our little house in the big woods. Snow, snow, everywhere, and yesterday we had a little three-incher of a storm to top things off.

When I look down the road, this is what I see.

Although perhaps it isn’t obvious in this picture, the snowbanks are quite high, and when we back the car out of the driveway, we have to do it slowly and carefully so as not to hit an oncoming car.

Our trusty wheel barrow slumbers in the snow and dreams of spring.

This vigilant squirrel keeps watch in an expanse of shadows and white.

And yet, there is a softening. During the day, the air isn’t as sharp. It doesn’t nip the cheeks and nose the way it did as recently as a week ago.

When I look up, I see the trees are starting to bud.

I look up farther and catch this nuthatch searching for goodies on a dead tree.

For the first time in a long while, my fingers aren’t freezing as I take pictures. While there might be a few more storms to remind us that Winter is still in charge, Spring is tap, tap, tapping on Winter’s shoulder.

Soon, soon.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

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.