arboretum winter walk

1.27.10 ~ New London, Connecticut
1.27.10 ~ New London, Connecticut

Here we go again! Following the repeated urgings of the local weather forecasters, yesterday I shoveled about two feet of packed layers of snow and ice off of our balcony. It was so pretty but roofs and decks all over Connecticut have given way under the weight of these record snow falls. And cold temperatures. We haven’t even had our typical January thaw!

And the forecast? Snowstorm tomorrow, ice storm Wednesday, snow storm Saturday…

1.27.10 ~ New London, Connecticut
1.27.10 ~ New London, Connecticut

These pictures are more from January a year ago, a different day when my sister and I took an early morning walk through the arboretum. Notice there is no snow on the ground, and you can see how drab Connecticut usually is for a good part of the winter. Which is probably why I love snow storms so much! But not this much!!!

1.27.10 ~ New London, Connecticut
1.27.10 ~ New London, Connecticut

But I have enjoyed curling up with my new Kindle, a birthday gift from Tim. 🙂 The feature about it that delights me the most is that I can adjust the size of the print to make reading a breeze, no matter what mood my eyes are in. I think in the long run this will be cheaper than buying new reading glasses every time my middle-aged eyes begin to get persnickety. And maybe I can get the size of my physical library under control, while my cyber library grows.

1.27.10 ~ New London, Connecticut
1.27.10 ~ New London, Connecticut

And the day climbs down from its blue loft-bed on a slanting ladder of sunbeams,
pauses a moment between the trees, airy-light, young.

~ Hans Børli
(The Quiet Room)

I noticed two of my Facebook friends talking favorably about an author named Mary Oliver, and so selected one of her books as my first choice. I found out that she has been called the Bard of Provincetown. Already I’m enjoying all the connections the poet and author has to one of my refuges on Cape Cod. 🙂

1.27.10 ~ New London, Connecticut
1.27.10 ~ New London, Connecticut

Batten down the hatches! Are we ready for more of this unbelievable winter?

snowiest month ever

This month is the snowiest January on record in Connecticut. In fact, it’s the state’s snowiest month in history, period. As if you couldn’t have guessed.
~ Ed Stannard
(New Haven Register, January 26, 2011)

It snowed most of Tuesday so I put off the food shopping expedition again. Wednesday morning my sister happened to be here so we decided to clean the snow off the car and do errands and shopping together before the “big” storm due that night. It was still morning, and I was standing in a very long line at the check-out with an overflowing shopping cart in the midst of folks on a quick errand for two or three items, pre-storm batteries, milk, bread, eggs or water. Even let one or two of them cut in front of me as there was no express line open. Happened to look out the window and commented to Beverly that the storm looked imminent, even though it wasn’t supposed to arrive until late afternoon. Sure enough, the first flakes greeted us as we exited the store.

When we got home Beverly took off for work early, to get a good parking spot, while I put my groceries away and then settled in front of the TV with a cup of coffee to see what the explanation might be for another inaccurate forecast. Meteorologist Dr. Mel was grinning from ear to ear as he announced that this month was now officially the snowiest month ever recorded in Connecticut history. This was before the big storm, and two more little storms predicted for Friday and Saturday. He simply couldn’t hide the delight he felt in offering this remarkable fact to his colleagues and television audience!

Then he got to the matter of the snow falling in the morning. It turns out it was another storm, an unexpected low pressure pocket formed off the coast and surprised everyone with a few inches to contend with before the big one. Unbelievable!

Woke up at 4 a.m. this morning – no official totals for the overnight storm yet – it’s still snowing. Dr. Mel says a good 10-15 inches fell so far in about 5 short hours over the state. (Does he ever go home and sleep?) There is a truck ban on the interstates until 10:00 a.m. Amtrak has suspended service. No city buses running. And of course schools are closed. Looks like Tim will be working from home this morning.

Took a picture of our Yankee weather rock in the dark. (A whimsical gift from Nate & Shea many summers ago…) Can’t see the word rock!! I’ve always loved the energy and excitement of storms, and taking this picture revealed a couple of orbs! I’ll be outside shoveling for a long time… And loving very minute of it until I get cold or tired or both…

lines on the sky

“Lines on the Sky” by Ane Lisbet Smedås

the whole world, wide
grazing land, the open spaces
wind across the land
and the sky, blue, high
~ Nils-Aslak Valkeapää

My friend Ane Lisbet lives in Norway and she took this amazing picture there on Saturday.

…project in the clouds those lovely unwritten stories
that curl and veer and change like mist-wreaths in the sun…
~ Harriet Beecher Stowe
(The Writings of Harriet Beecher Stowe)

This is turning into a winter for the record books. I can’t remember the last time the snow didn’t melt between snowstorms. Connecticut is usually pretty drab, brown and gray for most of the season, with an occasional snowstorm to punctuate the monotony. It usually rains at least as often as it snows. I’m grateful, though, for the current wonder of looking out the window each morning and seeing snow on the ground. My view isn’t as spectacular as Ane Lisbet’s, but it’s my own little wonderland.

Last night Nate & Shea picked us up in their snow-worthy Jeep and took us out to dinner at Olive Garden — they now have a gluten-free menu. For a Monday night, the place was packed! We had a window seat and I commented that inside it felt like Italy but looking outside and seeing mounds of plowed snow gave us a reality check. We had a wonderful time!

When we got home we were so cold we climbed under the blankets with our clothes on and snuggled until I warmed up and Tim fell asleep. We had hats, gloves and extra layers on, but just walking from the nice warm Jeep to our front door chilled us to the bone. Probably all our blood had gone to our stomachs to digest the meal.

This morning it was 18°F — a heat wave! Swept a couple of inches of new snow off of the car in the dark for Tim. He left before sunrise… Big storm due tomorrow night. Must get food shopping done soon…

We sleep, and at length awake to the still reality of a winter morning. The snow lies warm as cotton or down upon the window-sill; the broadened sash and frosted panes admit a dim and private light, which enhances the snug cheer within. The stillness of the morning is impressive… From the eaves and fences hang stalactites of snow, and in the yard stand stalagmites covering some concealed core. The trees and shrubs rear white arms to the sky on every side; and where were walls and fences we see fantastic forms stretching in the frolic gambols across the dusky landscape, as if nature had strewn her fresh designs over the fields by night as models for man’s art.
~ Henry David Thoreau
(Excursions)

a long cold winter walk

It was 4°F when I got up this morning. A year ago in January it wasn’t this cold when we had visitors for a weekend, Tim’s youngest cousin and her three children. Allegra is 18 years younger than Tim, who is the oldest in that group of cousins. (The span between the oldest – Nate – and the youngest – Lizzie – second cousins is even greater – 30 years! But they are not part of this particular story.) I hadn’t started By the Sea yet, so I’m remembering this wonderful day here now.

So… on one day of the visit we decided that taking a long cold walk at Bluff Point would be an invigorating way to release some pent-up energy…

January 2010 ~ Groton, Connecticut
Bluff Point ~ January 2010 ~ Groton, Connecticut

Bluff Point is a 1½ mile long peninsula here in Groton which juts out into Long Island Sound. It is part Connecticut State Park and part Coastal Reserve. The trails meander through the woods and open areas and finally lead to the bluff. The main trail is a four mile loop.

Winter is an etching…
~ Stanley Horowitz

January 2010 ~ Groton, Connecticut
January 2010 ~ Groton, Connecticut

The Poquonnock River (above) is on the west side of the peninsula, and on this day we followed the river. Cold as it was there were lots of people out and about, walking dogs, riding horses, and jogging, as well as walking like we were.

January 2010 ~ Groton, Connecticut
January 2010 ~ Groton, Connecticut

The winter sun is striking… Families who come outdoors find some satisfaction for the hunger to connect with nature and with each other, in any season.

January 2010 ~ Groton, Connecticut
January 2010 ~ Groton, Connecticut

A glimpse of a beach in the distance helps to encourage us forward, in spite of very rosy cheeks!

January 2010 ~ Groton, Connecticut
January 2010 ~ Groton, Connecticut

We didn’t make it to the bluff because we took a detour to Bluff Point Beach, which faces the sound and stretches into a barrier between the sound and the river, Bushy Point Beach. The Great Hurricane of 1938 (aka the Great New England Hurricane) washed away more than a hundred cottages here, which were never rebuilt. (Mother Nature doesn’t have to tell the typical New Englander twice when rebuilding would be a bad idea!) The storm surge also breached Bushy Point Beach which created an island at its western end.

January 2010 ~ Groton, Connecticut
January 2010 ~ Groton, Connecticut

We endured the wind a little while to explore the beach, and Allegra found a whelk egg case.

January 2010 ~ Groton, Connecticut
January 2010 ~ Groton, Connecticut

We were so cold by then that we decided to retrace our steps back to the car. So in the end we walked almost four miles, according to the pedometers. We came home to a round or two of hot cocoa…

January 2010 ~ Groton, Connecticut
Blake, Ariana and Clarice ~ Bluff Point State Park ~ January 2010 ~ Groton, Connecticut

Maybe our family will come see us again in a different season, and perhaps then we’ll make it to the bluff – we were so close! – and finish the loop on the other, eastern side of the peninsula!

January 2010 ~ Groton, Connecticut
January 2010 ~ Groton, Connecticut

Each of our lives is a path. To know this requires intuition and trust. If we are true to the steps we take, the travel makes sense and the journey confirms itself.
~ Lin Jensen

winter by the sea

We had a lovely snowfall last night, the thick wet kind that sticks to and stays on the trees. After I shoveled the car out, we took off to do many errands. Everywhere we drove we were treated to scenes from a winter wonderland.

This little house across the street from us is always a pleasure to see when I open the shades in the morning. The color of it lets me imagine I am in Scandinavia, and the architecture reminds me of Cape Cod. (It’s called a ¾ Cape Cod house, because two windows are on one side of the front door, and one window is on the other side.)

1.8.11 ~ across the street

Snowlight everywhere…

1.8.11 ~ Groton Reservoir
1.8.11 ~ Beach Pond
1.8.11 ~ Baker Cove
1.8.11 ~ Thomas Road

A new batch of snow is starting to fall as I write this, but all errands are done and we’re tucked inside with a fresh supply of hot chocolate and marshmallows. Life is good!

fjøsnisse

image by Lennart Helje

It’s been some time since I’ve visited any other blog so there’s that “out of the loop” feeling… I offer here (to the left) a picture of my all-time favorite Christmas card – probably posted it last year on my Gaia blog, but I’d like to have it here on WordPress, for the record. There is comfort in the familiar.

Things continue to get ever more complicated and difficult to balance caring for our elderly ones. Auntie’s endless and capricious demands are making our heads spin. To say she is keeping us on our toes is putting it mildly. And Dad is completely bewildered by recent developments. I can’t fathom much more than he does the ups and downs of his sister’s puzzling ways of coping with each new setback. Since her surgery in September it’s been one thing after another, and I think she is having much difficulty accepting the inevitability of each bit of independence lost.

On top of all this Tim got sick last week, with, of all things, a bladder infection. His habit of ignoring messages his body sends him and carrying on in spite of any sort of pain caught up with him big time. (I won’t even go into the story of how hard it was to convince him that he was having a heart attack three years ago.) Having never had a bladder infection before, he didn’t understand how sick he was until we took his temperature on Wednesday night and it was 102.4°F! Even so, he thought the thermometer might be inaccurate and insisted I take my temperature to verify. Mine was normal. No more if-s, and-s or but-s about it, I promptly escorted him to the urgent care clinic.

After many tests, the doctor there was concerned about the infection reaching Tim’s heart so he gave him an hour-long antibiotic infusion before he sent him home with an antibiotic prescription. As of yesterday (Saturday) he was still getting temperature peaks of 101°F but today it’s finally stayed normal. He’s lost ten pounds. He insists he is returning to work tomorrow and I know there is no way I can stop him. Sigh….. Fortunately he has a follow-up appointment on Thursday to make sure everything is back in working order.

In the wee hours of Tuesday morning we hope to wake up and get a peek at the total lunar eclipse and Tuesday evening we’re having our winter solstice party. I didn’t think too many would be able to make it because it will be a work night, but so far we’ve got 18 planning to come, including us! I’m very excited and am planning on spending the next two days cooking and cleaning, hopefully without any new crisis developing.

Wishing everyone very happy holidays filled with magical moments and the wonders of the season! And don’t forget to leave a bowl of oatmeal out for your local Nisse!

winter wren

I’ve been meaning to post this video since November 12, when I found it on Val’s blog. All the excitement of Thanksgiving made me forget about it! Watch what the wren does with the little caterpillar! It’s from a website called The Music of Nature. If Janet, Nancy or Ellie is reading this, you can go to the website and the featured video is of the Eastern Towhee, which one of you identified for me as the bird with the “drink your tea” song. Now I can picture it better!

Scrambling around here – Auntie is getting a hospital bed delivered tomorrow and is very impatient to get her old bed and some other furniture out of her cottage. She had a freak out while we were in Virginia and spent a few days with Beverly & John and Dad. She’s back home now and soon will be set up with a professional companion-homemaker for regular help. In case she needs to be with people again, they’re setting up a room for her at Dad’s, and furniture is once again on the move between households. Hope the dust settles by Saturday because the kids are coming over to decorate a tree and we better have one by then!

This is my first holiday season at WordPress and I love the little falling snowflakes feature! I love snow, but today we’re having a big wind and rain storm. Temperatures will be dropping sharply tomorrow… Nice to be cozy and tucked inside…

first snow

“Early Snow” by Konstantin Kryzhitsky

The first fall of snow is not only an event, it is a magical event. You go to bed in one kind of a world and wake up in another quite different, and if this is not enchantment then where is it to be found?
~ J. B. Priestley

It looks as if I have a busy day ahead of me, but my spirits have been lifted by an early snowfall, and, even if the snow will melt away as the day goes on, the feeling of delight it gave me continues… I heard two rumbles of thunder during the night, so I was not expecting to see snow when I got up out of bed! It felt so good to bundle up and go out to warm up the car for Tim, and brush the thick wet stuff off of it. I know I’m weird, but I love going outside in the winter, and this is the time of year when one can see bright yellow leaves from autumn resting on the still-green grass from summer, covered with a dollop of winter white snow.

One year back in the 1980s sometime it happened to snow one day in October, during the peak of fall color on a weekend. We were on a hike deep into the woods of Pachaug State Forest with two other families. It was so very enchanting! Everything seemed bathed in a magical light… (I call it snowlight.) We cooked a meal we brought over a campfire and took in the sounds of nature, the stillness of the snow, the fading light. Even the eight little ones were quietly mesmerized and not complaining about a thing. We reluctantly turned back so we could be out of the woods by dusk.

Things are not going well for Auntie. She’s had a trip to the emergency room in an ambulance and numerous visits to doctors and clinics in the past couple of weeks. Somehow during all this she broke some of her ribs, a painful addition to all her other problems. We’re all feeling the strain.

In my moments of solitude I’ve been exploring the vast treasures to be found at Wikimedia Commons, discovering artists I never knew existed from Ukraine and Norway and other interesting places. I went through a phase years ago where I dragged Tim, Larisa or Fran with me to museums from Boston to New York to Washington, to see all the Renoir paintings I could locate. In the process Larisa fell in love with Rodin. And now that I’ve “discovered” William-Adolphe Bouguereau, I hope to be dragging one or all of them with me to find one of his paintings in the near future!

Early Snow, the painting above, is by Konstantin Kryzhitsky, an Ukrainian painter, who lived from 1858 to 1911.