Monday, February 29, 2016

Leaping around

Winter’s snow is nearly gone.  Patches and piles remain, as does ice on the lakes and ponds. 
After a warm day yesterday I really thought the ice on the lakes would be gone. So early this morning I went down to Pinchot Lake and discovered ice still covering it.  The small lagoon has open water and is currently populated by 21 Canada geese, but the waterfowl I’m most interested in seeing don’t like the little lagoon and can only be found on the large lake.  I would not want to try and walk on that ice at this point.
Of the “spring” birds I have so far only seen and heard red-winged blackbirds.  The robins were here all winter, and it became common to see robins foraging beside juncos, which I always find amusing.  Those species can’t be well acquainted with each other in this area as their timing doesn’t usually overlap, as it has this year.
February started out cold, but ended up warm and so ended up being a fairly average month in the temperature department.  I wonder how a leap year affects daily temperature averages.  As today would normally be March 1, do weather people compare a leap day to March 1 or keep it separate from the other days?  Do daily temperatures skew differently in a leap year because of the extra day?  It’s a thought I am pondering this morning on this once in every four year event.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Snow - ice - sleet - rain

For the moment, the forest is snow covered. I say for the moment because I am in the middle of one of those snow/sleet/ice/rain storms that is a staple of southern Pennsylvania winters.   Even for here, this storm is extreme.  Yesterday morning was 4° and today the temperature will be in the 40’s! Yesterday I was dripping the faucets to prevent the water pipes from freezing, and today I am worried about flooding!
The feeder birds are feeding heavily. I still haven’t seen anything unusual here so far this winter, unless you count a sapsucker as unusual, which I don’t.  Not a siskin, not a redpoll, not a purple finch can be found.  The winter finch forecast was not encouraging, but it didn’t sound as though I’d have none of them, just fewer.

So “today’s” photo was actually taken on Sunday, when the snow was still lovely and not icy or water-logged. It may be the last photo of nice-looking snow for a while.  I took the photo from the kitchen of my family’s farmhouse, looking over to South Mountain. I never get tired of this view.  The mountains look different nearly every day of the year.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Snow, beautiful snow!

Isn’t it amazing how snow can transform the look of a landscape?  Even though I’ve lived at the cabin for more than 20 years now, the forest around me looks like an entirely different place when it’s covered with snow.  Yes, I know all about the downside of snow—the constant shoveling, the dicey driving, the sore muscles that follow the constant shoveling.  And yet, looking at the forest covered in snow never fails to inspire me.  I wish more of the year was snow-covered.
So far this winter, I’ve had a few days with just a trace of snow—that’s not really enough to make me appreciate it.  Then I had the 31” storm that was nearly melted a week later.  Now, I’ve added another 6-7 inches of snow-cover.  This one is likely to stay on the ground for a while, as temperatures are to plummet for the next 4-5 days. 

Unlike the blizzard, which was as powdery and lightweight as a feather, this was a heavier snow that even in a rather stiff breeze is sticking to the trees, which only adds to the beauty of the winter forest.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Before the rain

I took this snow photo on Tuesday morning, before the clouds rolled in.  At the moment it is raining (!) and raining hard, with fog to boot.  It’s the kind of day for me to stay inside and work around the cabin. I’d say the weather isn’t fit for woman or beast, but the bests don’t mind the heavy, cold, near-freezing raindrops soaking their coats as much as I do.

My plan for the day is to do some housework, peppered with a little cooking and a couple of cups of hot chocolate or flavored coffee.  It’s a ham and bean soup kind of day, too, though any good, hearty, hot soup would do as well. It's a good excuse to spend a few hours watching the feeder birds, too, even if it's only the "usual suspects" that are frequenting them this year.

Monday, February 01, 2016

Out of the blizzard!

I’ve been quite lax recently in keeping up with Roundtop Ruminations, and for that I apologize and will try to do better.  Lately, I’ve been taking photos and posting them on Facebook, mostly due to a lack of time. Feel free to friend me there, if you like (Carolyn Hoffman).  Those photos go up pretty much as soon as I take them, though often with a cellphone, as that is more quickly at hand, especially when I am walking the dogs.
Most of this past week has been spent shoveling 31” of snow that fell during the blizzard of 2016.  With help from Roundtop Mountain Resort, I now have my car dug out in and in my driveway.  Plus, the sibling, sibling-in-law and I have also gotten the farm’s driveway plowed out and dug out, at least as much as it’s going to get done.
The chickens have gotten over the shock of seeing so much snow, but still haven’t found their way clear to lay me any eggs.  I hope that changes soon! I can’t say I blame them, though.
Around the cabin, I’ve been seeing deer and turkey. They have been using the plowed driveways and walk paths for their own travel, as that is much easier than wading through so much snow, though doing so brings them closer to people.  They don’t appear to mind this. Somewhat to my surprise, the Carolina wrens are still around.  After a big snow in 1993 or 1996 they disappeared for several years.  Those little southern birds like to roost and nest under tree roots and similar ground tangles.  In heavy snows they are buried and can suffocate or starve.  But in this snow the birds were out and about the day after the blizzard, so they made it through this time well enough.

My feeders have been busy with birds—nothing rare this winter—though I have had some local birds that don’t normally appear in my feeders show up demanding food. The blue jays have been out in force, as have a pair of crows.  I think this is the first time I’ve had the crows in the bird feeders.  Naturally, these large birds empty the feeders faster than the little ones.  One of my errands today will be replenishing the bird seed.  I am nearly out, and the birds are counting on me!