A little touch of Spring

casting callOutdoors, the weather bounces back and forth from “almost warm” to snow flurries.  It seems that in the Great Northeast, Winter will not give up without a tug-of-war with Spring.

These bunnies at a local Country Store are trying their hardest to be harbingers of Easter, warmer days, sunshine and a touch of carefree whimsy.  I have to admit they DO look just a little perplexed…like they looked out the window and can’t see the early flowers for the snowbanks.  We are only a couple of days away from April but I think March might go out like a lion.

In other news around these parts I have been watching the gradual transition in the neighborhood as the “For Sale” signs go up.  One house…the one next door…should have a revolving door for all of the activity it has seen over the past 20 years with folks moving in and out. Another…the house of a long time friend…will soon house another family.  We are one of the few remaining “old timers” here and I have to say, I do miss the old times quite often.

But life changes, as seasons change, and we are called to be open to each new chapter of our lives.  To learn and grow from every experience that comes our way.

Welcome, Spring, welcome life

Welcome.

A Time of Vivid Color

sunrise_2We are a few days into Spring now…the temperatures bounce back and forth, the wind blows cold and biting and some nights still dip into single digits.  But it’s a great time of year for spectacular skies as shown in this sunrise photo and a sunset photo further down in the blog.  The only thing is, you have to be ready for it.  If I had been in the kitchen I would have missed this sunrise on the first day of spring. The snow is melting slow but sure, the long icicles that hung down over the windows are now a memory.  The first narcissus have popped up next to the foundation.

The garden centers are advertising their Palm Sunday open houses coming up and I am getting itchy to see color in the yard once again.  I am hoping to get some small begonia plants that I can get started  so that by May they can be put outdoors.  But as the warmth plays hide-and-seeksunset 3-22-15,  May seems to be light years away.

No matter, everything comes in due season and having four distinct seasons makes me appreciate each one in its turn. By the time one has been around for a while I am ready to greet a new one.  The comforting hiss of radiators (yes, we still have those in this old house and I LOVE them) will be replaced by the breeze of ceiling fans.  Hobbies and interests change, except for photography which is ongoing.  Soups and stews make way for firing up the grill and lighter fare.  The lake in my sunset shot just above will be teeming with ducks, geese, gulls…and over in the outlet some blue herons and egrets, hawks, maybe even an eagle if we get lucky.

Now to get rid of the rest of the snow….

It’s SPRING! Sorta.

sunflowerRemember the sunflower from a few days ago?

It’s been out i the snowbank ever since I stuck it there, and our snow HAS been melting.  As you can see in this photo, we still have some more melting to go. We did have some fresh flurries today and into this evening but it’s not really unusual for this time of year.  We ARE ready for some nice days however.  Whenever they decide to get here.  One of my favorite quotes about this time of waiting is by Henry VanDyke…”The first day of spring is one thing, and the first spring day is another. The difference between them is sometimes as great as a month.”

But it is getting a little lighter earlier in the morning, and staying light until 7 or a bit beyond.  You hear even more birds singing their spring songs.  The snow piles are gritty and crystallized.  And it is just about mud season.  All the small signs that the ancient cycle of life is enfolding as it should.  Soon, windows will be open wide to let in fresh, sweet air and the earth, and our spirits, will be renewed.

In the sun room, the plants that wintered over are perking up. Soon I will get some seeds and start plants in pots to move out when the weather permits.  It is an exciting season filled with hope.

And the promise of new life.

A Little Whimsy

P1130146aWarmer days, back to colder days…gray skies.  So, you start to look for color and cheery things to make you smile.

We stopped at a local country store for lunch last week and after lunch I wandered around a little and took some photos.  I had not been there since before Christmas…now all of the Easter delights are out on display.  Bunnies, ducklings, Easter eggs…signs of Spring even if there is still a foot of snow in the yard (down from a couple of feet at least)

But, the birds are singing, and there IS a difference in the song as mating season comes in.  We get occasional days where you get a whiff of Spring-sweet air and you rush to open the windows..only to close them late in the day when the temperature falls.  The icicles have just about melted from the roof line, snowbanks are receding, and although we can still have a good snowstorm or two the tide is turning.  Whenever I begin to wonder if Spring will ever get here, I stop and realize…

It always has.

Out of the deep freeze

P1130171-1It’s been a while since I posted, but the past few days we have had a real break in the cold and snow.  Perhaps a January Thaw…in March?

These mallards – along with a few dozen extras – found open water in a drainage ditch and took advantage to swim, preen winter-weary feathers, and take naps on the surrounding snowbanks.  They looked as happy as a lot of the people I have been seeing.

The warmer weather corresponds with my own freedom from the sling and “house arrest” from the broken arm and ribs.  I started PT, and part of my added exercise is to do camera lifts!  We got out to a local country store the other day for lunch and here at home the snow has melted enough that I started cleaning the path of sunflower seed hulls from the back yard under the bird feeders.  P1130128-1The other day, tired of seeing all the snow, I took one of my artificial sunflowers and stuck it in a snowbank outside the window.  Think it may have had an effect on the weather?

Whether or not it did, (and my guess is that it really had no impact whatsoever) the long awaited preview of days to come has arrived.  It will be short lived as a wintry mix is due over the weekend but we are “short time” on Winter now.  I am MORE than ready.

I bet you are too!

Thinking Ahead

Sierra Exif JPEGIn about 26 hours, it will be March.

February, in these parts, has been one of coldest and snowiest on record.  Average temperatures between 12 and 13 degrees. Not only here but friends in the southern states…you know, the ones who let you know that the daffodils are budding…have also been dealing with cold, ice and snow.

In my working days, when I would tear off the calendar page for February, seeing the word March at the top of the calendar seemed like a turning point.  Even though we can easily get snow into April, March always meant “You’re almost there.”  It will be a miracle if I see the back yard by the end of the month but the lion’s share of Winter is history.  Deep beneath the snow cover the spring flowers slumber and soon the tight buds on the trees will get JUST a little bit bigger.  The sun will shine just a little bit warmer.  And the daylight will be around just a little longer.  We will start to hear the bird symphony in the morning.  The world wakes up, and inside of us our plans, dreams and hopes also awaken.  It’s the cycle that is ever faithful.  I am ready.

How about you?

That Flash of Color

cardinal2Nothing like snow to make our cardinals stand out as the bright spots in the dead of winter!

I have had a pair of cardinals in my yard for many, many years.  Probably not the same pair, and unlike some folks, only the one pair and not several of them at once.  Unlike the juncos and sparrows…of which I have many.  The feeder and the ground below it are always busy.

I enjoy the constant activity, it brightens up even the dullest day.  At some point in very early spring, it seems like they all disappear for a few days but they always come back.  The yard is surrounded by all of the trees and shrubs we’ve planted since moving in 30 years ago and they have not only ample food and water (we have a heating element in the bird bath) but plenty of shelter as well.  This winter, with snowbanks piled high and most of the natural food sources buried it is especially popular.   Unlike a lot of people I continue feeding them through the year because I enjoy their company.  The squirrels are still trying to figure out how to empty the feeders on occasion but the fact that they can’t has been a plus…the birds have a fighting chance at the food and they know it.  Feeding and watching the birds…one of the simple pleasures of life.

And one of the most rewarding.

A little time away

2015CP11I just got back yesterday from a 5 day Centering Prayer retreat at the Dominican Retreat and Conference Center .

I look forward to this retreat each February, not only for the experience itself but the sense of being in a cocoon…safe and warm inside no matter what may be happening outside.  This year, the relentless cold and snow made things even cozier (at least it seems that way to me).  I am thankful to be at a point in life where I can get away now and then for reflective and quiet time.  To me, that’s as exciting as some people might find a trip to some exotic location.  The point being, to have a total change of scene. Time to think – or not think – and break the routine just a little bit.

Usually, I come back with a new insight on something.  It may take a few days to come to realization.  The cold midwinter can hide much to our sight and our mind but life is  waiting for the right time to burst forth. When things seem cold, dark and dead we might wonder if Spring will ever get here, in our environment AND in our souls. We can count on one thing:

It always has.

Yes, it’s still snowing

outwindowAs I sit and look out the window, there is more snow out in the yard than we have had in about 4 years.  The continued cold temperatures have discouraged melting so it has pretty much stayed with us also.  We are far from having it as bad as places in Massachusetts however.  We can still SEE out the windows.

Today, we have had a few bursts of flurries and overnight the arctic air is supposed to come blowing in.  Times like this I am very thankful for a warm house.  I also sit and marvel at how it can be so hot and humid in the summer.  But times like these make spring so sweet…

c in snowTo give you an idea of how much snow is out there…this photo was taken at the end of February, 2011.  And it looks just like this now except with my broken arm and ribs I am not standing outside tempting fate.  I was just a little closer to the house on this path to the bird feeders and garage when I fund that patch of ice. We are pretty hardy up here, or at least we used to be, despite all the moaning I see on Facebook posts.  And, it’s lighter just a little later in the afternoon…as I type this at 5PM EST, it’s still light out.  The seasons are what makes life interesting, they are what can be likened to real life, and you can let them make or break you.  But if you let it, this season of cold, dark and challenging days can be nurturing the seeds of growth and creativity inside.  It’s up to you…

What is your choice?

Six more weeks…

bd1Big surprise…the groundhog saw his shadow.

Although after being pulled from his comfy burrow into the snow we had the day before…I can’t blame him for deciding we need to be punished.  Here on the home front we had about a foot of snow but I am by a river and we seem to get just a tad less.  Most of the storms so far have missed us so we were due for a good one.  It IS winter, after all, and it WILL be here for 6 more weeks no matter what the little rodent says.

I have been indoors watching the festivities for the most part.  A slip on the ice resulted in a broken arm and some bruised ribs.  I can’t even say I was on some great assignment…I fell in my ownbd2 yard coming back from filling the bird feeders.  How mundane.

The snowstorm also interfered with a follow up to the orthopedic doctor on Monday but I will just keep doing what they told me to do.  I do remember a time when you didn’t have to go every week-10 days for follow ups.  I guess insurance is to blame for that.  On the road to recovery, even though slow it is not a bad time to stay put.  I am getting some reading done, and thinking ahead to Spring, whenever it gets here.  The biggest pain is not being able to take pictures as easily!

Stay safe and warm.