Winter pleasures

Snow abounds and its 0 degrees F outside. It’s crisp and crackly and I almost got stuck to the hot tub again last night.

The chickadees in this video adapt well to winter. We found safflower seed is a great food for them. Great for them because the squirrels don’t seem to like it and thus don’t empty the feeders as soon as we fill them.

The birds are the epitome of cheeky buggers. They chirp and flit within a foot of me and thank me for their winter feast.

I love the color of a winter amaryllis. This was a Christmas gift and brings warmth to the room.


I made a batch of delicious pasta last night with my new, industrial strength pasta maker. The gift giver also benefits from it.


It was a perfect meal after work with a meat sauce I made on Sunday.


A walk in the woods behind my house tells it all. The quiet and beauty is revealed in winter.


Soon the January thaw will be upon us and it could become a mess.


Over the top

A cold snap has arrived and brought beautiful, crisp, clear weather. I’ve been snowshoeing or skiing every day and remember how fabulous it is to be here in the winter. Except, of course, when you wake up to a temperature of minus 17 degrees Fahrenheit outside and find your oil burner isn’t working, as we did this morning.

We called the plumber at 0800 and by 0830 we were cranking out heat again. Nice!
I’m prepared though. I finished a double layer hat – naughty and nice. While in town, I wear the Nordic side out.

But when I am among friends I can reveal the dark side.

I am getting my cross country skiing mojo back – sort of controlling downhill speeds and confident I can get up again when I’m down. OK I haven’t actually practiced but I think I can. Yesterday I went through the river valley and came upon my favorite junk in the woods – an upended, rusted old car, balanced on the side of a steep cliff.

I warmed up in the hot tub to crystal clear sky. The Milky Way was like a ribbon, there were shooting stars, it was beautiful. I almost got to enjoy it for longer than I wanted though, because after I got out of the tub and was shivering in the wind, my fingers stuck to the metal latch when I tried to secure it. Yikes!

So it is winter

It’s official. It begins December 21 here, unlike Australia, where the season begins on the first day of the month and six months later (or earlier). Happy holidays and winter solstice.
There’s a nor’easter headed our way and we may get about a foot of snow. I’m excited because I’m going to ski the old logging roads on our property. Last year I was in a cast and the year before I spent the Australian summer on Deal Island.

I was surprised to find this little guy on our basement stairs yesterday.

He rivals Punxsutawney Phil in weather folklore. It’s a Banded Woolly Bear, an arctic caterpillar, and the thickness of its middle stripe is rumored to predict winter’s severity. Thick is mild. What’s remarkable is it freezes solid during the winter. It may spend up to 14 years, freezing and defrosting, before it becomes a moth.

It may be frozen now because the temperature is finally seasonally cold and this morning I found it curled into a ball.

It produces a “cryoprotectant” to preserve its tissues after its heart stops beating and its blood freezes solid! Impressive. It has a sad life cycle though. Years as a caterpillar, freezing over the winter, and when it’s finally eaten its fill, it emerges as a moth and then only lives a few days to find its mate before it dies.

Groundhogs have it easy.

Iced tea

It was so cold the other night, we awoke to ice on the inside of the windows! It’s the perfect storm of a propane fireplace heater, which creates moisture, a new, well insulated house and arctic temperatures. We’re trying different combinations to prevent it. I guess the easy answer would be to simply turn the heat way up but noooooo.

Inside Ice

To keep warm, I just keep brewing and drinking tea and photographing the pretty reflections.

Reflections on tea

I saw tracks outside and was convinced two snowshoe hares must have been exploring the field with a duck-footed hop. I don’t think we actually have snowshoe hares but it was a better thought than tracks of a bear awakened from its winter sleep. On closer inspection, Tim told me they were left by humans.


The absence of electric wires continues to pay off.

Jay from inside