Tuesday, November 24, 2015
Monday, November 23, 2015
A few more details on our first big winter storm of the fall. Everyone seemed really excited on Friday, as the forecasts predicted lot of snow... so much so that I was certain it was going to be a bust, and we'd get barely a dusting. Not so. Sleet started to fall around 8 on Friday night, wetting everything down before it quickly turned to snow. Snow falling on wetness meant it stuck to everything -- more on that. It was really hard to determine how much snow actually fell, since the ground wasn't frozen. It melted on impact and when it started to stick depended on the surface. On our deck -- which has air flowing under it so gets cold fast -- where the snow stuck immediately, we had a foot and a half, easily, by the time the snow stopped falling mid-Saturday. On the driveway, I think it was closer to 8 inches, the bottom 3 of which were slush... which weighs as much as water. Which is heavy. Which made shoveling really, really painful.
The way that the heavy snow stuck to everything was really lovely and magical. This oak tree image captures that...
It was also rather destructive. These trees (and many others) bent under the weight until they were literally touching the ground.
They were the lucky ones... all over our neighborhood were trees like this, that lost huge limbs which couldn't bear the weight. Especially heavily hit were those species still carrying leaves. I don't think there was a single Callery pear in the neighborhood that didn't lose at least some major sticks.
Saturday, November 21, 2015
Friday, November 20, 2015
Sandhill cranes continue to fly by in large numbers. Today I actually got a photo of a flock... this was one group of birds that flew by with two other V's right nearby. At least one other large group -- hours separate -- flew by today... and of course, I may have missed any number while not outside!
We're excited to be expecting quite a bit of SNOW tonight -- though with all the talk, I'm kind of expecting a bust. But I'll definitely report tomorrow!
Thursday, November 19, 2015
As I was taking yet another wind-blown lunch walk... side note: pretty much the only day this week that we haven't had crazy, blow-you-off-course winds was Tuesday when it rained. You know how much I love strong gusty winds, so... it's been a great week for me. Yea. Anyhow. I was walking, looking down to avoid having leaves or other detritus blown into my eyes, when I heard the distinctive, primordial call of Sandhill cranes. I looked up to see them, and was immediately blinded by the sun, which didn't bother me because I'm just happy to see the sun. When my retinas healed, I was able to find the flock -- about a hundred birds, flying due south, up so high that they looked like barely more than specks in the sky. Migration!
In the other direction (the one I spent most of my walk looking, ie, down) there are still woolly bears braving the elements. Woolly bear lore says that the wider the orange bands are, the milder the winter will be. This year's crop seem to have pretty wide bands. Although I have heard non-larval predictions for a mild winter this year, I don't know that I put any stock in caterpillar predictions. (Although this is interesting... I've noticed that the woollies this year seem to have one really tiny black side and one larger black side... I've also heard that this winter will start mild but have a brutal end. Can these caterpillars be that specific? If that comes to pass, will it mean the woolly bears really do predict the weather? Hmmm.)
I also saw a grasshopper today, though it was slow and didn't jump very far to get out of my way.
Tuesday, November 17, 2015
Today's steady rain has made today one of those wormy days, when you have to look everywhere you step to avoid not only puddles, but the worms that have come out of the soil to avoid the saturation. You'd think, on November 17, that the worms would be well out of sight in estivation... curled up in their mucus-coated caves deep below the frozen surface*... but you'd be wrong! Hasn't been that cold, for that long,that the soil has gotten even a little bit frozen. And so, a wormy day!
*so poetic, and yet...
Wednesday, November 11, 2015
With leaves down, berries have become much more noticeable ornamentation. The sumac berries stand out, red, atop their naked shrubs. The choke berries crown the branches of the shrubs in large clusters. Today I was particularly struck by the crab apples adorning trees... they come in deep red, yellow/green, and some, like the one I enlarged and actually colored, are yellow-orange with red tinges. The apples are in all states of decay. Some are still plump and round, while others are shriveled like raisins, and many are in between. (Note: after this sketching experience, I will not be drawing raisins any time soon.)