There are those in the valley who probably didn't appreciate the six to eight inches of fluffy snow that came down the other night. There's no doubt that it means a lot of extra work and worry for a lot of folks, myself included. After all the shoveling and scraping is done, there is time to go in, relax and pause at the window to soak in the winter wonderland that is around you. Admire your shoveling job, and enjoy. In spite of all the extra toil the snow brings, it's hard not to see the true Earthly beauty of the winter landscape.
As the nearly full moon rose over the valley last Wednesday night, there was no doubt that the white landscape can be beautiful. The moonlight reflecting off the new snow lit up the night, while long shadows reached out from behind every tree to run dark fingers over the white ground. The moonbeams danced on the white drifts and sparkled like diamond dust. It's hard to imagine a more beautiful winter night.
When there is a lot of snow, the birds that come to the feeders all look like they don't have anywhere to hide. No longer do they blend in with the surroundings. Anything with any color stands out, once the snow comes.
So many brilliant colors gathered around the bird feeders like colored sprinkles on a white frosted doughnut. Bright red cardinals, Blue jays, yellow Goldfinches, Purple finches, and black-capped chickadees were there, as well as a few big black crows. They all ate together in a 10 square foot area, around the bird feeder. Along with all the birds was a single Cotton-tailed rabbit that thought he'd fit right in.
The mercury started to rise again Friday night, and by midday Saturday it was a cloudy 40 degrees. Sunday was a bit cooler, and heavy overcast skies brought rain by mid-afternoon. Half of the new snow was gone by Sunday night. The remaining wet snow will freeze hard before tomorrow morning, because the mercury will drop to zero on Sunday night.
A solitary Kingfisher perches on a high line wire that passes over the trout stream. His gaze is trained on the clear, cold, water below. For hours he will patiently wait for a fat minnow to come into view. Then he will dive, straight down, head first, into the water, and catch the minnow in his bill. He always seems oblivious to the weather: Whatever comes, he still has to go fishing every day.
All the talk was about how cold it was on Monday, around zero with a wind chill of 25 below. The good part was that the sun was beaming down through the windows most of the day. It helps warm the house and gives me the chance for some quality time at the drawing table. Sunny days have been few and far between lately, and I'm hoping that will all change as we head through Winter Solstice. When winter starts to test my spirit, I pay attention and respect the bitter lessons. There is less time spent outdoors when it is below zero Fahrenheit.
When it's this cold at night, I can't help thinking about the little birds that are somewhere out there in the dark, trying to keep warm. I think of a tiny chickadee with his feathers all fluffed up, and his head tucked back under his wing. He sits down so that his feathers cover his feet and toes. It's amazing to me how tough these little songbirds are. They show up in a cheery mood at the bird feeders each morning, regardless of the weather the night before.
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