Tag Archives: winter

January 9th

January 9th

 

Cold, 20’s, light breeze, waxing gibbous 89%, sunrise 7:27, sunset 4:58

 

It’s finally cold enough to really feel like winter. This old house is chilly in the corners and the sky has settled into the steely white/gray it likes to wear in this kind of weather. Rev has a friend over and I love to hear the sounds of their playing while I make lunch in the kitchen. They’re busily packing for a journey to Antarctica, which appears to involve piling up a bunch of random items and then “reading” chapter books to each other for the duration of a long, pretend train ride.

 

Which actually reminds me of an insanely long train trip I took from Philadelphia to Vermont once, on the wobbliest train over the crookedest tracks during the coldest part of the winter. I drank ginger ales in the dining car and tried not to succumb to motion sickness, and watched the snow getting deeper outside the window as the miles rolled by. It was dark by the time we reached Burlington. There was no platform at that station and we all marched off the train straight into a snowbank. It felt like stepping into the north pole or like I had been transported into some strange lonesome frozen northland that I was wholly unprepared for. Then I took a winding taxi ride to my accommodations on the banks of the frozen Lake Champlain. It was too dark to see anything so late in the evening and the space it took up felt more like a gaping abyss in the earth than a large body of water, except you could hear the ice whispering down below, telling its secrets in some strange and unfamiliar language.

But maybe every winter feels like that a bit. Like one day the world is one way and the next day it’s another and you’re wholly unprepared for the change even if you know it’s coming but you’re kind of ready for it too.

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January 6th

January 6th

Sunny, 11:29, 50’s, light snow last night

 

It snowed a wee tiny bit last night, just enough to coat everything with a dusting, just enough to allow Rev to try out his new sled at the closest park to our house. He said he was a baby polar bear and threw himself into “belly-boggining” over every available slope. There was a group of crows flying over and hanging around, and by their excited calls I’d dare to say they were as excited about the snow as Rev was.

 

You can set your clock by the crows that live around here. Our house is directly in the flight path that delivers them to the old, and very established roosting area at the edge of the city. Bordered on one edge by shopping mall and road and on the other by creek and a row of trees, the site has been a favorite wintertime roosting spot for centuries drawing upwards of 30,000 individual birds. The crows fly in right around dusk, and spend their evenings shoulder to shoulder nestled into the narrow strip of trees.

 

Biologists believe the roosting behavior serves a number of purposes. Protection, for one, from  predators like owls who welcome the good hunting that long winter nights bring. It allows the crows to share information about the location of food and foraging areas. And it serves a social purpose, allowing allowing crows of varying ages to spend time with one another, socialize, learn about appropriate crow behavior, and meet individuals the crows would not normally meet during the rest of the year, when they exhibit much more solitary behavior, mostly living in small family groups and social bands.

Sometimes we visit the roosting area to see the great ruckus of the crows settling themselves in for the night, branches of bare trees disappearing inside a great cloak of bustling bird bodies against the backdrop of darkening sky.

January 3d

Winter

January 3d

Very rainy, gray, chilly, no sun

Once, a very long time ago, Wil and I and a very good friend had the pleasure of watching  the slow progress of a lunar eclipse from the rocky bank of our favorite creek. I stood, eyes open, nearly unblinking, wanting to see actual movement, but all I could see was progress. Slowly the moon disappeared, and reappeared, but no matter how much I stared, it was like still frames instead of video. The pace of progress was so slow, you’d swear it was all just a clever magic trick.

Watching Rev grow is just like that eclipse. I’ve been watching him for four years, waiting to catch him in the act of growth, but all I can see is the progress, the still frames, not the video.

Suddenly, he can get his own water from the kitchen, get himself dressed. He asked to do the dishes the other day, he can write his own name with his own little hands, he can listen to long stories without pictures and understand the jokes. He’s kind, he’s a good friend to his friends and cousins, he gets incredibly excited about incredibly mundane things. He like to make his own decisions and sometimes we clash. He makes me laugh. He’s still our baby, but he’s not a baby anymore.

From one day to the next his pants are too short, his little t-shirt threatens to expose his belly button. His shoes are almost too small.

What sleight of hand is this, this change too slow to see? Brutal is what it is. And beautiful. So, so beautiful. It takes my breath away.

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gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) bones we extracted from a great horned owl (Bubo virginianus) pellet we found on the bank of a local pond. sketch by Natasha

December 4th

December 4th 8:26pm

50’s, damp, partially cloudy, moon, waxing crescent, 24%

We got our christmas tree today. It’s the first year we picked a real, large tree from a lot, and Rev was so excited. In past years we’ve used our potted norfolk pine, which we still have growing happily in our western facing window, but this year it felt like time to try a live tree, although, I have to say I wish we could have gotten one actually living to plant in the spring, but those are more expensive and out of the budget. Truly, I’ve always wished there was a way to have large trees happily growing inside year-round, and now Rev shares my wish.

Anyhow, what did we discover as we jostled the small spruce into its tree stand, but an eastern swallowtail chrysalis (Papilio glaucus) hanging from one of the lower branches. We weren’t sure who was in the little pod at first, but we pointed it out to Rev and then went about our business. A few hours later, while he was zipping around the living room, climbing all over the sofa and jumping on the chairs, he suddenly proclaimed, “That’s not just any egg! It’s a chrysalis!!” to which Wil and I just about fell over with surprise and delight. So we looked it up and it turned out to be the Swallowtail Chrysalis. We’ll have to move it outside to prevent it from hatching, and I’ll be excited to watch it come spring to see if it will still hatch out.

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eastern swallowtail chrysalis (Papilio glaucus). by natasha