Monday, December 13, 2010

DELIGHTFUL SNOW!

A pair of house finches wait their turn at the feeder.
We had a great little snowstorm yesterday. While the actual amount of snow that fell only amounted to about three inches, at times it was blowing around so thick and furious you'd have sworn you were in the 
midst of an arctic blizzard. Absolutely delightful!
Just part of the mixed feeder gang.
The birds, of course, responded to the storm by ganging to the feeders and scattered corn in droves, noisily gorging themselves with the table manners of a herd of semi-starved teenagers scarfing up free pizzas. The first thing I did in the morning was to fill each seed basket to the brim, put out new blocks of suet, and toss scoops of cracked corn under the box elder, atop various stumps and rocks, along the walk, with even a bit on the windowsill by the dining table for the Carolina wren who likes to nibble while peering inside, as if wondering about that big interior space on the other side of the glass. No one goes unfed on the riverbank!    

A redbird hunkers in a riverbank hackberry.
After breakfast Myladylove and I played hooky from church and headed to the tree farm to cut our Christmas tree. We're late this year by at least a week; we had every intention of getting it up and decorated the weekend after Thanksgiving. Alas, every free day recently has been allotted to dental and doctor visits, my recent outpatient procedure, or some other schedule-wrecking necessity.

Frankly, we're now both glad it worked out this way because yesterday's storm was the perfect time to go find a tree.The swirling, blowing snow, which blotted out the horizon in every direction, rendered the world beautiful beyond description. We took the long way to the tree farm, along little country roads which zigged and zagged through strips of woods, along jump-across brooks, over old iron bridges, and past barns and fields and meadows which could have occupied me photographically for months—each scene more magical than the next.

A flicker forages amid the snowstorm.
In fact, if we hadn't been on our Christmas tree mission, we'd have spent the entire day wandering those lovely rural byways along the western edge of Ohio, listening to carols on the radio—perhaps angling a bit into eastern Indiana to take in the snowfall's beauty amid a Hoosier light. There'd doubtless have been a stop in some mom-and-pop caf√© for a burger, a mug of coffee, and—if luck was with us—a slice of gooseberry pie. Then, as twilight set in and night swiftly claimed the land, we'd have headed home through those little villages with the interesting names—Palestine, North Star, Savona, Eldorado, Ithaca, Winchester, West Sonora—taking time to admire the holiday decorations and lights, listening to the ancient music of the season, while a silver glow from the heavens above gleamed off the white blanket of new-fallen snow.
———————    

38 comments:

Bernie said...

You even have a way with words to make your non day sound beautiful Grizz. So glad you and your ladylove had such a great day, love the photos of the birds. We have tons of snow with 20 to 25 cms more expected tomorrow. I love snow, just don't like brutal cold.
Stay safe and warm my friend...Hugs

The Weaver of Grass said...

Thank you Grizz for including my very favourite red cardinal in the photos - he is so Christmassy - I still think that the snowy photo on your interview with Bonnie was the best snow photo of your river bank (or any river bank) that I have ever seen. Hope you post a photo of your decorated tree.

The Solitary Walker said...

This is an altogether delightful post, Grizz! Beautifully composed in every way. And those pix are just gorgeous.

George said...

This post was a perfect Christmas gift for me, Grizz. Thanks for choosing so well this year. Gorgeous photos of the birds in winter, sitting in the truck with you and your Ladylove and we took those backroads to get the Christmas tree, the prospect of gooseberry pie, which I have never had — just the thought of all these treats makes my day. Have a merry Christmas and keep those inspirational postings coming.

Bonnie said...

Ahhhh - creating wonderful winter and Christmas memories. Lovely how nature sets such a perfect stage for memory-making. And the tree? Is it in its place, illuminating your home and heart?

Grizz………… said...

Weaver…

I did think of you when I put in this redbird shot—and I agree, they do look very Christmassy against a backdrop of snow.

Huh, guess it's going to be hard to top that upstream shot you like so much. I will try and post a shot of our tree.

Grizz………… said...

Solitary…

Thank you. Of course the snow and birds would make any photo look good—so all I had to do was frame and not mess up the exposure.

Grizz………… said...

George…

Oh, my…a man of your palate and travels having never experienced the sublime experience of a good gooseberry pie? The thought leaves me aghast. Gooseberry pie is both tart and sweet, a bracing complimentary ending to any hearty meal—though it takes a real pie baker to walk that fine line. Gooseberry pie goes especially well with winter fare, when the spirit can always use a bit of brightening.

In my impending dotage I've become a rather querulous connoisseur of gooseberry pies—having been both helped and hindered by early exposure to a master baker of gooseberry pies. Her pies were not only ambrosial, but set a standard to which other pie journeymen (who are mostly journeywomen) can only aspire. This same maestro, BTW, baked a cranberry/raisin pie (first presoaking her raisins overnight in good brandy or dark rum) that was simply to die for…and I regularly drove the 100-plus miles roundtrip to partake of a leisurely lunch at her restaurant which invariably ended with several slices of pie.

I'm glad you liked the post and pix and your ride along the snowy backroads. You're always a most welcome guest.

Gail said...

HI GRIZZ

your pictures and expressed images are beautiful - you have such a way of telling a story with just enough fact to ad to the magic of it all. I am sure your true is lovely and that all the wild life on the river are very happy, just like you and your Lady

Love Gail
peace and hope....

Grizz………… said...

Bonnie…

I am compelled to tell you the truth…no, the tree is not yet fully decorated. But it will be finished tonight. We slogged around in the blowing snow on the tree farm for more than an hour, up hill and over dale, bow saw in gloved hand, pulling the empty tree-tote cart behind. Snow blew into our faces. Ice plastered our hair. We walked backwards sometimes because we couldn't see if we faced forward. We argued about whether a tree was too tall, not tall enough, too fat, too skinny, a nice dark green or a sickly jaundice yellow. And we checked the farm's hundred or so acres of pines—in a half-dozen species and all sizes—from corner to remote corner. This follows the ancient prescribed manner of tree farm etiquette. One must look at each and every tree before choosing.

Of course having at last come upon THE tree, one must kneel upon the ground, stiff back, dripping nose, and frozen fingers notwithstanding, stick your face into the mass of prickly needles, and saw as close to the ground as neatly as possible and perfectly horizontally, as bespeaks the wood skills of a carpenter's son. Afterwards, the tree is loaded onto the cart and you trudge the near-mile back to the barn, remembering the decades when you carried your Christmas tree on your shoulders, but now giving thanks to whomever invented the wheel. At the barn the tree was shook, bagged in a net, and summarily loaded atop the Jeep and tied down. Then it's back to the barn to talk to the donkey, and the donkey's owners who also own the farm and whom you've know since the season they sold their trees, twenty-nine years ago. After that we drove home, again taking the long way.

Then, the great room was cleared and readied. The tree was fastened into the stand and brought in to drip off the last of it snow. A kettle of soup was made and much consumed. Carols played throughout. Eggnog was sipped. Tired, aching, we nevertheless persevered. We got the lights on the tree. One of us crawled around in the attic looking for a missing box of garland. More eggnog was sipped. Moon the dog insisted on a walk. Having dirtied myself in the attic I thought I might as well get my feet and pants legs wet in the snow. By the time I got back it was almost dark. A fire was built on the hearth. Wood was needed. The wet dirty one complied. At that point it suddenly struck us that no matter how hard we tried, as beat up as we felt, we'd probably not get the tree finished that night. A motion to adjourn and sit by the fire, listen to carols, and sip eggnog was made. Motion seconded and carried! We did have the twinkling lights on, of course.

Grizz………… said...

Gail…

The tree is lovely and will be even more lovely when we get it finished (see reply to Bonnie's comment.) Hey, I love telling the stories of life's little adventures. I'm really glad you enjoy them. Yesterday was a really good day…and I appreciate them for the true blessing they are; to me, that's what life is really about—sharing with one another, having fun.

Bonnie said...

Oh my - if I didn't know how much you love writing, I would be feeling as if my questions set you to justifying the fact that the tree is still not decorated! I think it is a good thing to do it in stages and steps, and 'the wet, dirty one' certainly deserved his breaks with a little eggnog! Glad someone finally made the motion to temporarily adjourn and that it was duly carried!

I read your comment to George and it brought back sweet memories of my mother's raisin pies. Her crust was so tender and flaky and the raisins plump, flavorful and rich. So rich that it was served in the tiniest of pieces. You never hear of raisin pies today - and when I reminisce about them to my children, I see their noses twitch in ... disdain.
Well, some of us know and remember.

I have never enjoyed a gooseberry pie, but I often purchase gooseberry jams when I can find them at farmer's markets. Soooo
good!

Hope you still have some eggnog to fortify you during the actual decorating of the tree! :-)

Grizz………… said...

Bernie…

Please forgive me! Somehow my earlier reply to your nice comment failed to post…and I just realized it. I'm really sorry.

That "non day" might have been imagined, but barely so since there's nothing I like better than to take a long country drive during a mild snowstorm. I love the Currier & Ives look of the landscape, the farms and fields, ragged meadows, woodlots, the long swathes of open land with snow swirling and blowing, stopping to eat at little cafes, savoring the lights of the little villages after dusk—the whole business. Myladylove and I have done it plenty of times, and God willing, will do it plenty times more in the future—at least once in next couple of weeks. So call it fiction based on facts and facts to come.

No snow today. It was bright and sunny, though cold, 18˚F high and 12˚F right now and dropping. Sunny predicted for tomorrow, too, but snow Wednesday and Thursday.

Again, Bernie, I'm sorry to have failed at posting this reply the first time around.

Grizz………… said...

Bonnie…

Me justifying? Ha! I'm a motormouth in speech and prose (except when I get moody) so don't think a moment about it. I certainly didn't take it that way. I was just amusing myself, having fun…and giving you an honest, fully-detailed answer.

You know, kids turn up their noses at way too much—raisin pie being a perfect example. Maybe when they get to be a certain age, they'll realize we weren't such dull old fools after all. In the meantime, I say we give them one chance…then we eat their share of pie.

Kay said...

Your words take us into your world--even more than your wonderful photos do. I loved both your description of the journey to find your tree and your revery about what you'd do if you didn't have such a purpose. I hope the tree you found was as perfect as the trip through the snow seems to have been!
Kay

Grizz………… said...

Kay…

Thank you for such kind words—I'm glad you like the writing as well as the photos. And we did have a wonderful day. The tree is up, though still in need of some final touches, but as always, seems the prettiest one ever.

partialview said...

I just want to say Hello! And that your bird feeders are lucky! Do you live close to a stream? Really? Wow.

Priya

The Solitary Walker said...

Loved your reply to Bonnie! The problem however with you, Grizz, is that you just don't DO enough ;)

Tramp said...

Driving into the snow this morning it seemed that it was coming from a single point in the darkness slightly ahead of the car.
Here the tree is still sitting outside, it is tradition to decorate it just before Christmas. It is quite a process which could become a chaos of bad language and bad feeling if treated wrongly. With the right approach, yes the soup, music (I hope you were singing), egg nog and team work (family members and dog in perfect harmony) any technical hitches, small medium or large, are overcome. The final result is something for the household to be proud of. It is a wonderful introduction to the days ahead.
Just one thing, you dismiss the fitting of the stand as a simple operation. In our house that is the longest part of the operation...if dogs could laugh.
...Tramp

Grizz………… said...

Partialview…

Hello! And welcome to the riverbank.

I do indeed live close to a river…from the edge of my front deck to the water is about 8 feet straight down. I can literally fish from my living room.

I hope you enjoyed you visit here and liked it enough to visit again.

Grizz………… said...

Solitary…

If I did any more…I'd have to be twins. No one, including me, is ready for that!

Grizz………… said...

Tramp…

I know exactly what you mean about the snow coming from what seems a single point—I've seen that, too. And when it is blowing in strings low across the pavement, it always looks to me like mice running over the roadway.

Here, we do get our trees up early, the better to enjoy them longer, I guess. And I purposely avoided mentioning THE FITTING OF THE STAND because I didn't want to relive that wound so soon after its infliction. Although, this year I did the the bottom of the stump cut square, and with this stand I bought a few years ago, you simply tighten it in its bucket, insert the bucket into a sort of locking holder, hold the tree perpendicular, push the lock and…HO HO HO! the tree is upright and ready to go.

The Solitary Walker said...

Twins! Good grief! That would be TWO much of a good thing!

Freda said...

These are truly wondrous photos and you take us right into the heart of the day. The bird feeder is amazing, must look out for one like that. Ours is a simple tube and is empty in no time, though come to think of it there must be pounds of seed in the feeder.

giggles said...

Niiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiice. Happy Holidaze.......

Grizz………… said...

Solitary…

The more the merrier. Think of the possibilities…holiday whining in stereo!

Grizz………… said...

Freda…

I believe the feeders (I have two) are Stoke's brand, and hereabout they're sold by Tractor Supply—though many other stores sell at least part of this line. They have a couple of design flaws, but once you realize and overcome these little problems, they're pretty good feeders—hold about a gallon on sunflower seeds, dry and secure, and can—as I've proven—be knocked and dropped and pillaged by squirrels and raccoons and still do the job.

Grizz………… said...

Giggles…

Hey, it's good to hear from you. I thought maybe you'd ran off with birding Gypsies or something. Happy holidaze to you, too!

giggles said...

Layin low... tryin to chill a bit... Got a part time job waiting tables at a brand new pizza joint around the corner from home. I get out at lunch time and get my social jollies, and make a few pennies to spend at the same time. In the meantime, I continue to lurk and enjoy....

Best to you and LadyLove....

Grizz………… said...

Giggles…

I'm glad to hear you're enjoying yourself in a new setting. I hope everything else is going good, too, and that you're finding value and peace beyond the old routine. Sometimes you have to go looking for life. It takes courage and a leap of faith…but life thrives on adventure.

Lurk here all you want. Drop me a line whenever you wish. And have a lovely, merry Christmas.

Arija said...

I cannot say how grateful I am to the Powers that be that I finally tripped across your blog. Your thoughts and expressive writing style draw me in like the golden vortex of near death experience.

It looks like I will be reading your blog backwards over time to the very first post. It is better than a novel and much more real.

Your photos are a delight as is that little Flicker with dots and stripes and a red flash for good measure.

Grizz………… said...

Arija…

Well, nothing you could have said would have pleased me more—not because of any boost to my ego, but because there's nothing better than to find out someone really enjoys what you've written and intends to read your "forgotten children" of the older pieces. I really appreciate that. I am very glad to have you among my readers! And you're always welcome here at Riverdaze.

Thank you!

Arija said...

Thanks for the welcome Grizz . . .
I'm saving your back posts for those nights when everything seems to ache and sleep is well beyond the mountains. That will be the time for me to mind your forgotten children, though how one forget one's children I'll never know. Then I will delve into your life and landscape, so well remembered yet now unreachable, with visual evocations of a paradise once held yet lost for ever.

Grizz………… said...

Arija…

I didn't mean to imply that I had forgotten my children. Not by a long shot. Rather, like most writers, I look at my various pieces as offspring—little parts of me that have been labored over, loved, finished up as best I could manage on a given day…then sent out into the wide world to shine and carry their message or tale. You want them to be read, and you feel bad when you know at least a few of them are pretty good but simply buried, seldom to be read again; resting quietly, almost like they're dead.

And like any parent of a child out there, wandering, I always have the hope someone will pick them up, taken them in for awhile, read and enjoy them, thus keeping them alive. So…you give me hope. Read them at your leisure, when the night becomes long and dawn is only a promise you have trouble believing. I hope they're good company. And bless you.

Arija said...

Bless you Grizz, never in a million years did i think you would forget your children, you just didn't notice the tongue in my cheeky cheek.

I know just what you mean, sometimes when you write a poem and it turns out to your satisfaction and only three people read it and not one of them gets the meaning . . . ah well, that's life I guess.

I will pat you "forgotten children" on their darling heads and now and then tell them how good they are.

Enjoy sipping your eggnog, here it has gone off the shelves and been replaced by a revoltingly sweet and gluggy drink called 'iced coffee'. Supermarkets have no idea of tradition, just cashing in.

Grizz………… said...

Arija…

Oops! Guess I missed that one—but I didn't want you to think I was a bad parent and had somehow managed to forget my offspring.

Like all kids, I'm sure there'll be one or two in the gang that you'll like, others which will prove okay but unremarkable, and a handful you'd just as soon lock in the closet. Don't worry, I feel that way about 'em, too. I'm sure you're treat them just fine.

I usually make my own eggnog, which tastes nothing much like most of the commercial swill, which is often nasty sweet. I also make syllabub, though haven't done so yet this year as I've somehow misplaced my recipe.

Arija said...

Dearest Grizz, could you pleeze, pretty plz send me your eggnog recipe??? I would sooo appreciate it as i lost all my N.American cookbooks with all else in the major conflagration in '83 and there are some recipes that just were nowhere to be found.

Grizz………… said...

Arija…

I'd be happy to send you my eggnog recipes. I have a couple, one more "involved," the other a "quick and dirty" version for when you don't have time to do it right but still want to do ti good.

Send me your email address. You'll find mine at the right-hand side of the blog, in a sort of turquoise type, a few entries below the mug shot. You have to convert the AT to @ and the DOT to a period. (This to prevent non-human webcrawlers from snarfing it into their systems.) If you don't hear back from me in a reasonable time, I probably didn't receive it. So rattle my chain.