Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Baby Dog in the Woods

Here's a new picture of Baby Dog in the woods. She sort of looks like the evil hound from Hell in this picture, which is kind of funny since she's not, though she is quite a yapper. Trying to get her to hold still long enough to get a non-blurry photo is pretty difficult. This is the best of about 10 shots of her that I got on the last roll of film.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Fall Leaves

I took this picture last week or so. I like how there's so many different colors in it. I know the pictures I post aren't too timely since I have to finish a roll of film and then take them to be developed. But at this point in the year, having a digital camera would only help a little. It's still not full light when I leave the cabin in the morning, and it's dead dark when I get home in the evening, so there's very little opportunity to take any pictures during the week.

Random Observations

Today is the first day of rifle deer season. About 6:10 a.m. I heard a guy go up the mountain on an ATV. The thing made so much noise that every deer between Roundtop and Mt. Pleasant could likely hear him. Surprisingly, considering the number of hunting passes issued by Roundtop and the strange cars I’ve seen cruising around the mountain, his is the only vehicle I saw that I was sure was a hunter’s. No one was parked up around the new pond or across the road by the well. Perhaps there were a few more cars down at maintenance than is usual, but that might just as easily be explained by pre-season skiing gear-up. Even though the temperature will top 60ºF today, I kept Dog inside today just to be safe. Most of the guys who hunt the mountain don’t know the woods well enough for me to be sure they won’t shoot where they’re not supposed to.

On Thanksgiving Day, I spent some time at the family farmstead where I saw the first red-breasted nuthatch I’ve seen this season. So far none of those have shown up at my cabin’s bird feeder, but the parents report this bird is a regular visitor at their feeder.

The red-tailed hawk that I’ve reported on several times already was seen and/or heard around the cabin almost every day I was off over the holidays.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Weirdness on Roundtop

The snow making crew on Roundtop made snow all night on Thursday, all day on Friday and into Saturday before it warmed up too much to make more. As a result, the crews got a good bit of snow on Minuteman and the bunny slopes. As is usual the local TV stations came up to take pictures, etc. One of the stations reported "the earliest they will be open is Monday." But apparently, what people heard was "open" and "Monday" so at work today in Guest Services I was inundated with people wanting to know what time we'd be open on Monday.

When I explained to one caller that we weren't going to be open on Monday, he immediately wanted to know what other ski resorts in the area would be open (like, if we can't open what made him think any others would be open?). One of the security guys saw someone crossing the parking lot with his skiis on his shoulder, and the would-be skier called over "What's open?" The security guy called back, "For what?" I had a call from one of the TV stations, and the guy says "How many people are on the slopes up there today?"

This time of year, if I had a dime every time someone asked me "When are you going to open?" I wouldn't have to work the rest of the year. I mean, if I could predict that I'd predict something really interesting--like the lottery numbers.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Snow on Roundtop!

The snow crew started blowing snow on Roundtop Thanks giving evening. They've been blowing snow continuously since then and have already covered Minuteman and the "bunny" slopes. No date set for opening yet, as unfortunately, the weather forecast for next week is for warmer weather.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

First Snow and Birds of the Day

Just before dusk last evening I startled the red-tailed hawk I'd seen the week or so before in my driveway. This time, the hawk was over towards the back of the cabin, probably scoping out my bird feeder. It glided up the open space in the woods made by the driveway, crossed the lane and settled in the woods opposite, in one of the few trees that still has leaves attached, no doubt the better to hide from its prey.

Last last evening I was out with Dog and saw the promised snowfall had begun, a few hours earlier than forecast. An hour or so later it was time for Baby Dog's last walk of the evening and by then the ground and deck were covered with a thin layer of snow. As usual, Baby Dog leaped over the storm door opening that I haven't put the storm door in yet and then she skidded to a stop in surprise when she saw/felt the snow. By the time we came back inside she looked like a large piece of marzipan, only glazed with snow, not sugar.

By the time we went out this morning the snow was old hat to her. Unlike Dog, she just accepts the snow and moves on with her sniffing. Dog, on the other hand, thinks snow is the most wonderful thing a dog can have to play in and runs around with his nose about an inch underneath it, creating a very odd looking track. I only got a dusting of snow this time, though, so maybe Baby Dog will find it more interesting when there's more of it.

It's been almost 2 weeks now since I've been at home during daylight because I was in NH las weekend. So on this lovely Thanksgiving morning, I paid special attention to the birds around the house.

My first bird of the day was the red-tailed hawk from the evening before, popping out of the woods in the same area as I saw it last night. I expect it roosted in the tree it landed in after I flushed it.

After that I saw American crow, dark-eyed junco, and at the feeder--chickadee sp. (here I have both black-capped and Carolina, plus likely intergrades), Carolina wren, northern cardinal, white-breasted nuthatch, red-bellied woodpecker, tufted titmouse and blue jay (the B-1 bombers of the woods). I also heard one of the pileated woodpecks and American goldfinch, but didn't see those. Not a bad start to the day!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

First Snow Flurries, Dead Hedgehog

Last night and this morning I saw the first snow flurries of the season. Nothing stayed on the ground—yet!—but I might get snow after dark today that is heavy enough to do that. Finally, the weather is starting to feel season appropriate. It was 25ºF this morning, the coldest morning so far.

Last week before I left for New Hampshire, I got out the down coverlet and flannel sheets. Last night I had 3 cats and Dog cuddling with me on the bed, and I couldn’t turn over without disrupting the entire household. It was a little like what it must be like to sleep in a strait-jacket.
Baby Dog, who’s now in her chewing phase, sleeps in a crate next to the bed. Her crate is outfitted with an old flannel sheet and her toys. Her current favorite toy is a stuffed hedgehog that she has to “kill” each night. The crate will shake and she makes ferocious puppy noises. The first time she did this I thought she was trying to escape the crate. But when I looked inside she had hold of the hedgehog and was shaking it the way Dog shakes a groundhog. After she kills the hedgehog, she settles down and goes to sleep.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Fall Before it Fell

Here's one of the few fall pictures I got this year. I took this not far from the cabin. This fall was not a particularly good one for fall colors. Oh, we had one semi-nice afternoon of it but that was about it. The colors didn't turn bright this year and just when I thought they were getting half-pretty, they fell off.

Today, the leaves are almost all off, so I can see again around the cabin. No more living in a green box again until sometime in April.

Monday, November 21, 2005


I am back, safe and sound, from my adventures in New Hampshire. I will post more later. For now I will just say that they had some snow, I saw 2 dead moose in the back of a pickup and that it was a loooonng drive.

Thursday, November 17, 2005


I won't be posting anything for a few days. I'm leaving for a very fast trip to New Hampshire for the HMANA board meeting this weekend. Unfortunately, I'll likely only be seeing the inside of a room for the entire time I'm there, so I don't expect to see or do anything particularly interesting. Perhaps, I'll get lucky and see something interesting from the car during the drive up.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Bad Start

I’ve had better starts to my day. Baby Dog did a job in the house—her first. Dog bolted out the front door when I was going out with Baby Dog (and working on her sitting at the front door before clambering over the storm door with the non-existent insert). Dog dashed off in search of semi-feral cats to chase. I ran after him, calling his name, heading up through the woods in my long skirt (the first time I’ve worn a skirt in weeks).

I kept thinking how deer hunting season was going to start in a few days and that he would get shot by someone. He did startle a deer—I saw its tail flagging as it headed off the wooded knoll next to the cabin--and although Dog was also on the knoll, he paid no attention to it. He had cats to chase. He finally deigned to come to me almost 10 minutes later, after treeing the cat in question. All this and I hadn’t even had my coffee yet. At least it wasn't raining.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Falling Leaves

This photo of Nell's Hill was taken from behind the cabin and looking to the west. I was hoping to get the leaves at their peak of color, but I didn't have a true "peak" this year. The brilliant colors of years past never really materialized. At this point, the leaves are about 70-80% gone.

Yesterday, as I sat writing at the kitchen table, I could look out the window at any given moment and see 1 or 2 or 8 leaves wafting down to the ground. Sometimes, I even got to see a leaf give way from the tree and fall off. After seeing this happen a few times, I've learned how to tell when a leaf is going to fall. The leaf that's about to drop will suddenly rise up an inch or so, as though it's being moved by a wind from underneath. The other leaves still on the tree won't move at all, and there may be no wind in the first place. The leaf that moves will then just let go and fall.

For a Monday, today is starting out pretty well. I saw 3 red-tailed hawks on my 17 mile drive to work this morning. I'm pretty sure that's a record. And the red-tailed hawk resident to the intersection of Rtes. 283 and 83 just flew overheard.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Baby Dog, RT Hawk. Let the Weekend Begin!

A way cool start to a Friday. I got back my first pictures of Baby Dog, and I actually managed to get one photo where this perpetual motion machine was not in motion.

Just as good, as Dog and I were taking our usual 6:15 a.m. walk, we startled a red-tailed hawk that must have been perched right outside the cabin door. She (it was a big one) soared down the open driveway and perched in a dead tree at the end of the lane. As Dog and I walked down the driveway, she took off and soared into the lightening sky, still hardly more than a silhouette in the pre-dawn morning. Okay, I think I can make it to the weekend now!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

West Rim Trail photo

The is the second and last image I was able to take on my West Rim hike in October. The clouds lifted just long enough for me to take it. I really need to go back next year so I can get some decent pictures.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The Race

It’s funny how something as simple as the colors of the setting sun on the underside of clouds can make me smile. Last evening, for a few moments, the bottom edges of the clouds were a bright and intense shade of salmon.

I was driving home from work, caught up in evening traffic and the hurry to get home. I race home as I’ve been resisting leaving the porch light on in the mornings when I leave, even though there’s hardly any light left in the sky when I pull up the driveway. I hurry in the hopes that it won’t be dead dark when I get home, and I’ll still be able to see well enough to get out of the car and into the house..

Fear of higher electric bills this winter has prompted me to new heights of conservation. The thermostat is set at 60oF. The bed is heavy with all the blankets I’ve put on it to keep me warm in a cool house. And the porch light is left off, though this makes the walk from the car and up the front steps dangerously dark. I keep telling myself to put a flashlight in my carry-all, but so far I’ve forgotten to do that. So I hurry home, trying to beat the dying light for yet one more day. I’ve given up trying to get home to walk the dogs before the light is gone, but I still like to get into the house with enough light left from day that I don’t fall on my face.

Yesterday, I was still 8-9 miles from home when the sun dropped behind the mountain, and for a brief moment that light still lit the clouds, creating a beautiful picture in front of me. It was so beautiful that for a moment I just enjoyed the sight and forgot about the race home, the waiting dogs and the darkened driveway.

The natural world often does this to me--wakes me up from my own worries and self-imposed deadlines. It’s one reason I can’t imagine living in a city. I would miss so much, so much of the beauty and fury of the natural world, so much of life, so many little surprises that turn a day from just another day into something magical and amazing. I need these natural moments to remind me how beautiful life is and how lucky I am to see it.

But today is another day, and I’ve still forgotten that flashlight. Maybe tomorrow.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Leaves Tumbling Down

This year’s leaves are finally starting to fall, though at least half of them are still holding on. Last evening, amid a few sprinkles and booms of thunder, the wind picked up and roared through. I heard branches falling on the roof of the cabin—nothing major.

Baby Dog didn’t seem to notice, but Dog woke up, ears at attention, at the first clap of thunder. I didn’t get a storm, so he soon relaxed and went back to sleep.

This morning, I found dead leaves swirled onto the front porch, ankle-deep and brittle.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Signs of Nearing Winter

A few of the leaves are finally starting to drop. One tree at the end of the driveway, which was a brilliant yellow yesterday, is about half bare this morning. The season is progressing, even though it seems glacially slow this year. Today is so warm I came to work without a jacket. That seems unbelievable to me in November. I’ve also started work for the season at Ski Roundtop, though I’m only doing pre-season things—no snow on the hill yet.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Where's the frost?

This is officially a weird fall. If I've had frost, it's been barely a touch of it. Worst of all, the leaves are still on the trees. And more bizarre than that is that many of them aren't even yellow/red yet. There's still an awful amount of green out there. The past 2 years, the leaves dropped about a week later than is normal. And now, they're at least 2 weeks behind normal. I'm sick of global warming, and I'm ready for winter.

I have started work at Ski Roundtop for the year, but it's only pre-season work.

Baby Dog is growing already. I've taken pictures of her each weekend and still haven't finished the roll. Today I pulled 2 ticks off of her. In November!