The Temperature Roller Coaster

The end of January through the beginning of February has included a little bit of everything weather-wise. We’ve had snow accumulations, ice, ice and snow, frigid temperatures, and sunny days in the 60’s!

All of this has led to interesting arrangements of snow and ice to observe on the ground. Below is a gallery of photos I took on January 20 during a walk from my back yard to Patchwork Central and back. It includes the brick-edged streets in between both places. If you click on a photo, you’ll get a description of what you are looking at. Perhaps I should have taken a few pictures that show the bigger picture, but things were much, much prettier and more interesting when I could crop out the surroundings.

John and I had contemplated going somewhere for the long Martin Luther King weekend, but with the bad weather predicted we decided to stay home and enjoy quiet time there. On one of the cold days, we fixed ourselves some fancy cinnamon French toast with bourbon barrel-aged maple syrup and bacon. It was fantastic.

Then last week we had dangerously cold temperatures with some snow. That was followed by a morning of freezing rain. It was not fun weather, but I took some additional photos in the brick alley behind Patchwork and in Patchwork’s garden. With the wild swings in temperature, there is a ring of daffodils that have begun to emerge.

Through all this, my orchids have provided bright cheer indoors. Several of them always bloom at this time of year.

Meanwhile: the cats. Last week we celebrated two years since we brought the Ladies home from the Humane Society. They continue to be lovely. Morgaine is a champion napper, always finding new configurations to sleep in. She also loves to burrow under the covers on our beds so she can nap there. Ygraine remains regal. Perry remains a troublemaker, but he’s very compelling, too, and continues to work very hard to be a better cat. I used an online app to make him a trading card for the Puppy Bowl, which is held in conjunction with the Super Bowl.

Part of Perry’s problem continues to be McBalls, the stray male cat outdoors. McBalls seems to taunt Perry by doing things like sitting on the porch railing a few inches (and a pane of glass) from Perry’s face and then ignoring Perry banging on the window behind him. Perry gets upset, then lashes out at his human friends if we happen to be nearby. McBalls can sit there for a half hour, so it doesn’t stop quickly. The nickname we’ve given him is a little crass, but it summarizes his unfortunate life. I need to get him neutered, but he’s really skittish so I know it will be traumatic.

Last week, the Ladies were super interested in something going on next door. I looked and saw McBalls grooming himself in a pile of leaves on our neighbor’s roof. He’s quite the tomcat.


Closing Out 2018

Time passes through my garden. Like the wind, it touches all the plants there. It has finally sapped almost all the color and structure from the marigolds and hostas whose demise I’ve been documenting for the last several months. Meanwhile, it has burned brighter colors into the ajuga and it has brought beautiful blooms of seed structures to the autumnal clematis.

Also passing over my garden these days are waves and waves of snow geese. Below you’ll find a video showing just one portion of one huge formation of them.

With slower changes happening in my garden, I’m left to photograph my cats more. They’re pretty cute as they snuggle into warm spaces in the cold weather and as they accent the Christmas tree. Lady Morgaine is a champion napper, always curled up in new formations on her heated cat bed in the windowsill or forming random lumps under the covers as she slumbers on the bed for hours. It’s been warm enough for walks with Perry, which he has enjoyed. His behavior is always better after a nice walk.

Golden Leaves to Snowfall

Two weeks ago, we were at the height of the late but brilliant fall colors. Golden light rained down on my garden. The marigolds and the toad lilies still bloomed. Leaves began to fall. Then came several nights in the 20’s and chilly days. Tender leaves froze, their water-filled cells bursting then thawing into pulpy masses. The leaves began to quickly leave the trees. Then came a light dusting of snow. Then a “wintery mix” that accumulated overnight and collapsed the broken plants under its weight. The progression is remarkable and beautiful. It is what autumn is all about as the natural world prepares for the dormancy and barrenness of winter. You can follow the process in this series of photos.

Catching Up

For the last month my computer has been on the fritz, and it’s really cramping my style. With it out of commission, I don’t have my photo file organizer or my photo editing software. Normally I take a lot of photos, download them to my computer, sort and organize them there, and edit each one–even if it’s only to reduce the file size to help keep me within my allotted online storage space. I’ve not been able to do any of that for a while.

Luckily it’s the slower time of the year for garden photos. Below is an assortment to update you on my garden in the last month. It’s Southern Indiana, so the weather has swung from cold and icy to a balmy 70 degrees last week. However, because it’s been mostly colder this time around, my first crocus blooms have been a little later. The first one opened on Feb 8. Then with the warm day, others exploded across my lawn. I’m always glad to see their reminder that the seasons are slowly changing.

The warm day also meant that the Ladies could survey their domain from the back door and Perry could try out his new walking jacket. I hope that walks will offer him another positive activity to keep him occupied. I’m still not sure what he thinks.

And finally, the squirrels found the little bird feeder I’d put up for the Ladies. It was full of the good seed, too! I came home from work at lunch on Friday and the base was off the feeder. I had some suspects at the time, and my suspicions were confirmed today when there was a sudden skittering going up the window screen and the Ladies went on full alert. Stupid squirrel!

A Round of Robins Eating

We’ve seen them before but from inside the building. There’s one day every winter when we look out the main office window and comment, “Wow. There are a bunch of robins out there. The holly berries must be ready to eat.” It’s impressive, with robins filling the trees and bumping into the windows. I thought I’d truly appreciated the spectacle, but last week I experienced it from the center of a robin tornado. It was pretty intense.

I was walking back to work after lunch when I realized that the holly tree in front of Patchwork was flapping and fluttering. It looked like a monster. It was full of hundreds of robins and hundreds more were waiting in the trees. They’d dive in, flap their way to some berries, and then they would explode out again whenever a car drove by or they were otherwise startled. I wouldn’t say I was afraid of birds, but it was creepy getting close to the tree.

Holly berries have to go through a series of freezes and thaws before birds can eat them, and apparently they were finally ready to eat. Just prior to that, they’d made really lovely photos in the snow! As the birds ate, holly leaves fell all over the ground. Eventually there was a thick blanket of them that other birds picked through to make sure no valuable nutrition was left behind. When the birds were gone, so were all the berries.

A Frosty Start to 2018

2018 started out with an icy cold blast that wouldn’t stop. On the coldest night my thermometer hit -1. That cold stuck around for over two weeks, but we thankfully had a warm home to be in. The furnace created an impressive stalagmite under the exhaust pipe. I thought it was interesting to see all the differently shaped furnace stalagmites around the neighborhood.

After a brief break from the frigid cold (one day the high was in the 60’s) we got a nice little snowstorm with 4″ – 5″ of photogenic snow. Frigid temperatures have returned with it, so the snow will be sticking around for a few more days. It looks festive, but our cars are completely stuck.

I’m sure the cats don’t know how good they have it. They’ve been spending a lot of time by the heat vents and on their heated cat beds. In between they have play time and Perry does his all-important laundry inspection. They’ve also thoroughly loved watching the throngs of birds at the feeders trying to survive the cold. I’d failed to stock up on the safflower seeds that the cardinals and other bigger birds eat, so I made an emergency run to Rural King today so I wouldn’t run out. The cats were very happy that their “stories” went uninterrupted.

Last week I got a window bird feeder for the Ladies. The birds finally found it yesterday, and Lady Ygraine quickly found the birds. They haven’t been back since she lunged at the window, but she’s eagerly awaiting their return. The sales woman at Wild Birds Unlimited assured me that she has a the same feeder and a cat and eventually the birds learn that the cats won’t get them. I hope so!

Here’s a slideshow of the first two weeks of 2018. Click on any photo for a larger image and a description.

Closing Out the Year

Everything is pretty well tucked in and dormant in my garden. We’ve had several blasts of frigid air and surely many more will descend on us before spring. Really, winter has barely arrived.

2017 has been stressful, and 2018 promises to have new challenges all its own. John and I didn’t even feel like we could manage a Christmas tree this year, but I did put up Christmas lights outdoors. It’s enough to feel festive, shining light with abandon into the darkest, longest night.

I continue to rejoice in the beauty of the changing seasons, including the deep, earthy colors and the pale decay seen throughout my garden. They are what the end of the year looks like, so I’ll leave you with them–and a little bit of pre-Christmas snow.