Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Finally a real winter storm!

It has taken until today to get a real winter storm this year. It seems like the really big ones went south to Virginia and the Mid Atlantic Coastal Region this year. Today's storm is a real Nor'easter, although a little on the warm side. We lost electric power for a good part of the day and even lost phone service for a few hours - a little unusual. Here are some pictures Naomi took around the cabin. It is all very beautiful!From our bedroom window.
Cleaning up the car to make a 'Mail Run'.Another view from our Bedroom.Looking down the driveway!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Maria's Birthday

February 12th was Maria's 5th birthday. Naomi and I celebrated with her when we were there. We gave her a 'baby doll' which she had previously chosen at Gepetto's Toy Store across the street from her apartment. This is a picture of her playing with the doll. Where do little girls learn this stuff?
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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Return from Oak Park

On the 11th we returned from visiting Maria and Jenna after being delayed a day because Midway Airport was closed due to a winter storm. The delay was a mixed blessing because I did miss a meeting of the Adirondack Park Agency that I wanted to attend, but we did get a chance to have a last night in Oak Park sleeping on the sleeper sofa and having a pajama party with Maria! We enjoyed it so thoroughly that we decided in the future we would plan to spend the last night sleeping over at Jenna and Maria's apartment and have a pajama party. I have a couple more pictures to share.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Silence - Winter Walk

Late this afternoon I walked up the ridge behind the house on dense granular snow. There have been a couple recent trace powder snows dusting the hard crust making it possible to date the passage of the myriad winter wanderers by the amount of powder accumulated in their tracks. The more powder there is dusted in, the older the tracks. It is almost like a series of transparencies have been laid over the surface of the landscape labeled: tracks of day 1, tracks of day 2, etc. I saw tracks of mink, red squirrel, grouse, coyote, fox, and numerous very small animals - various mice, shrews, voles. These smaller animals are too much for me to figure out. The fox were probably the most interesting because it is breeding season and we seem to have a conjugating couple nearby. They are often walking together almost in the same tracks and wandering apart only for very short investigations of promising nooks and crannies. There are frequent urine spots - I think a part of the mating ritual.

One of the most amazing things of a winter walk is the silence. There is almost no sound. It is astounding to me how infrequently we encounter this phenomenon in daily life. The winter woods are really really quiet. The only sounds were of my own feet crunching on the snow, the sound of a grouse launching into the distance at my approach and the sound of water running under the ice over the small rills and riffs tumbling from the ledges. I pause often, just to hear the silence.

The silence makes the sounds I do hear really stand out. They are like bright colors on a white background. The wings of the departing grouse sound like the bicycle wheel spokes of a slow turning wheel hitting a playing card attached to the fender when I was a kid - a flup, flup, flup, almost as if it is internal to my ear instead of 30 or 40 yards away and fading. It is a ventriloquial effect in that it is hard to tell exactly where the sound is coming from. Spring grouse drumming is similar and one of the magical things about being in the woods. Both sounds, of course, are made by the wings cupping air against the bird's body.

A small unnamed stream flows over the shelves of the ridge from a beaver pond in a large basin like depression near the top of Flemming Mountain behind our house. The stream is completely frozen over but, in this winter silence it can be heard dipping and diving over the rocks beneath, like a heart beat after a scramble up a steep slope - quick and sharp. It is warmer under the skin of ice and snow. The life of the forest has mainly gone underground. Below is a picture of Owl Pate Mountain taken during my walk.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Visiting Maria in Oak Park

We're visiting with Jenna and Maria in Oak Park. Here are a few pictures.

Naomi and Maria at Red Hen Bread in Oak Park.

Maria showing off a tree made of decorated Styrofoam packing blocks. Note the forest animals under the tree.

Maria is sitting on a quilt made for her mother when her mother was an infant!