Memorial Day like November

This is why I am still eating root vegetables in May.  There was snow in the mountains today!

So while those of you downstate are munching on fresh lettuce and tomatoes, I am still eating the remains of cold storage.  Potatoes and kale are finished but beets, carrots and parsnips abound.  I started a hydroponic garden about a month ago and this weekend, we shared about 8 pieces of arugula, mustard greens and lettuce among four people.  And it was good.

image  There comes a time in mid spring, where I have to have fresh greens and fruit after a long winter of root vegetables.  I threw slow food to the wind and bought mangos, pineapples, oranges and cherries.  Don’t judge me.


More spring visitors

Avian and mammal.  Spring brings feathered friends and family.  All welcome.

Bluebirds found the new house by the cabin and are making a nest. IMG_9017

My sister-in-law and I walked through the grasslands and she spotted a Chestnut sided warbler by the road.  You can just make it out hidden to the left in the brambles.  It’s not the large tan leaf in the upper rightChestnut sided warbler.  IMG_9020She also spotted an Indigo bunting just outside our screened in porch.IMG_9004

The lilacs are in bloom all around us. Their scent is the harbinger of spring.  With nice weather, cool (40f) nights, visitors return to the Adirondacks in heaps.  I love hosting guests during this time of year although there was snow in the forecast for tonight (Memorial Day Weekend)!

So I clean my house before guests arrive.  Tim likes to wait until they leave.  Any thoughts?

Snow is in the forecast but the birds are unaware

The temperature is below freezing again but hasn’t stopped the bird migration. It seems every day we hear new songs and see more species at the feeder. This morning a flock of common redpolls stopped by for a frenetic visit. Mourning doves have returned and their song echoes in the woods.

Today a plump, Tufted Titmouse was stopped by and settled in the tree among the spring buds.
tufted titmouse

As long as the birds don’t care about our Hazardous Weather Outlook, neither will we.

Mother Nature’s hot flashes

She’s experiencing them now.  We’re in the middle of our January Thaw.  It’s a well accepted phenomenon at mid-lattitudes, and here in the North Country, that the week surrounding January 25 has higher than expected temperatures.  It’s described as a sinusoidal pattern, the curvy line from highs to lows.  The swings in the temperature increase during the January thaw to more than 10 degrees above normal.  It’s more unusual when it doesn’t happen.

Our weather station reports that yesterday hit a high of 51.  And the wind blew all night, with gusts to 37 mph ( which beats all of 2012, with a high wind of 36 mph) the birches swayed, the house creaked, rain fell in buckets, and I was tucked happily inside.

Two days ago, this was my view.

A sweet little cabin in the woods

A sweet little cabin in the woods

Today I see this out the window.

Jan 31 thaw

I’m pretty sure this will come with a rainbow sometime today because it’s sunny, cloudy and snowing lightly.  The temperature is already dropping and is  supposed to fall to 7 degrees f by tonight.  The good news is six months from now, July 24, is predicted to be the warmest of the year.


Why be a lighthouse caretaker?

I had an epiphany while mowing for several hours yesterday. I ran into the typical problems: mower hard to start until I got the nack; wheel fell off and I had to hunt the fresh mown grass for it; and the shooter kept falling off.



The morning was glorious and we had lovely visitors, they arrived and left early because the weather was predicted to change.


And it did. The wind picked up while I finished the lawn and I had my aha moment. My hair was whipping in my eyes and mouth, the fog horn was blowing and the flag was flying straight off the pole.

I love offshore lighthouse caretaking for the extremes of weather I get to experience. Strong wind and gales, pea soup fog, crashing waves, rainbows and amazing sky. I explained this to Tim in the afternoon and then, as if to prove my point, a front blew by last night.



Here’s the real time Radar imagery.


Make that 51 shades of gray

I spoke too soon. Yesterday was forecast to be partly sunny. If that means fog so thick you can’t see 100 yards, then it was. We were surprised by a knock at the door in the dark and fog by a trio of young men who sailed here from Portland. I expect we’ll hear more from them this morning.

We had a few other visitors during the day.


A photographer, Friend of Seguin, came out to photo-document the buildings. Capt. Ethan also brought a young family from our neck of the woods, Lake Champlain. They own a CSA, Blue Heron Farm, on Grand Isle, VT and were here for an end of season vacation with their adorable daughters. Their CSA includes yarn!!!

I have yet to identify a family of small hawks who call the island home. I can’t find the Peterson bird book that used to be here, so I am using my Audobon app which is even better.

Today is glorious. Sunny and warmer. I’m not even wearing any wool. Very optimistic.


I may even need my sunglasses with their homemade croakies.


Outhouse bound

Outhouse outfit We’re in the middle of a four day storm.  Hurricane Ophelia is passing offshore tonight stirring up the wind and water.  There’s no way on or off the island for a few days, which is always interesting. It makes me just a little more cautious.  No power tools, careful walking the quarter mile or so (in full foul weather gear) to the outhouse and spend way too much time indoors.

At least I have several knitting projects underway and lots of food to cook. Yesterday I made a couple of loaves of bread, chile and chicken soup. Tonight I’ll bake an apple pie. What could be more cozy.

Was this really summer?

I’ve heard the temperature has been 8 degrees celsius colder than the average summer temperature. I believe it. I only went in the water once and that was when a dinghy dropped us off in water up to our chests. All this beautiful turquoise water and I haven’t been swimming! I’ve worn wool on almost every day of my Tasmanian summer and often several layers. And now it’s fall.


Last night, there was loud scratching at all the windows. It sounded like a B horror film. I thought I heard someone whispering, “red rum, red rum”. This morning I found dragonflies attached to the house. Naturally, they are huge. The insects and spiders are all supersized here. The bull ants, huntsmen, beetles and dragonflies.

Mild rain was predicted last night. It poured and poured. Tim set buckets around the house while I slept. We recorded 62 mm this morning, which is the most we have had in one day during our stay. Actually it’s more than is recorded for entire months, even the winter ones.

Now we only hope that the sands haven’t washed down onto the jetty road. We thought we would spend our last few days here walking the walks. Instead we may be shoveling the sand, again. Where’s the ibuprofen…and my mittens?

I think I’ll wait until later to look.

The wind abates and there’s trouble in the garden

Clear skies

The wind settled down overnight after four days of 30 knots with gusts to 70. The garden survived. After the first night of strong winds, I barricaded the small seedlings as best I could from the wind. They had been spinning around in circles while the wind blew. A large group of tomato plants took a nose dive. Today I removed the wind screens and resupported my fallen tomatoes.

I noticed one of the beet seedlings missing just like in the cartoons. It was dug out of the bed and there was a small pile of dirt nearby. I smelled a rat. I knew there was a reason there were a hundred rat traps lying around the garden when we arrived. They’ve moved back up to the garden. I thought I noticed some of the tomatoes had small bites taken out of them but I think I suppressed it. So I got out the peanut butter and set a few traps. This is war! So far it’s two points for the Home team and 0 for the visitors. Or should they be the home team and we the visitors? I’ve been coddling these seedlings along for two months. During this last gale, even after it rained, I had to go out and water the garden to wash the sea spray, which blew in from Little Squally Cove, 1/4 mile away, off the leaves. Just like “Jaws”, “First the shark, then the rogue wave, then the tomatoes falling overboard!”

During a walk yesterday, I saw some strange vegetation. Glowing, bright red fungus, Eucalyptus trees that bleed and shed their bark instead of their leaves. Some sort of berry or parasite that grows on the leaves not from the stems. And of course more rocks where I found half a man but is he lying down or sitting up?

Toxic fungus
P2200133.JPG  Shedding bark Berries on the leaf

Man about to be eaten by spotted serpent

Apparently red skies in morning also predict a gale

Sunrise Deal Island.jpg

Sunrise Sunday

Tim has been wearing a hat most of the time because his sunglasses died. Two days ago, when we went to Squally Cove, a willy waugh whipped it off his head, took it straight up in back of him and then deposited it about 20 feet in front of him. Later that night, one of the fishermen in the cove recorded wind speeds of 70 knots and all three boats in the cove dragged their anchors during the night. And it continues today with 15 foot seas off the island.

We have a small fishing boat sort of stranded here. They can’t leave because of the weather and weren’t planning to be here more than a day or two. It’s been five days now. Maybe tomorrow will be calm enough for them to go home. Sometime this week a group of kayakers from Surfriders should arrive as part of a fundraiser/clean up effort. They plan to spend the first hour on each island cleaning up the beach. They’ll have it easy here unless we scatter our trash, packed to take off the island, on the beach.

The wind shifted to the west and yesterday I walked to a couple of lookouts to see the surf. Squalls blew by. Waves crashed on Erith island with surf rising at least 200 feet up the cliffs. It’s nice to come back to the comfort of the cottage on days like this.