Weather all over the place

IMG_2195

It is pretty easy to talk about the weather. Who doesn’t talk about it? Problem is, most of the time what I hear is complaining. It’s too hot. It’s too cold. Too much rain. The snow is a nuisance. That kind of thing. Complaining about the weather is a national pastime and it is something that binds us together. Too bad, I say. Around here the weather is always changing, and I love that.
Last week the temperature got to -18º. The ground finally froze. I couldn’t stir the compost pile–it was solid. A couple of days ago it warmed up. The temperature rose to 52º. Then it rained all day. Then it got cold and snowed. The rain and warm weather made for some flooding. All that floodwater is ice now. The roads turned muddy, got rutted, then froze. Frozen ruts make for sketchy driving. But they look cool.

This month we have had temperatures that ranged 70 degrees, snow, rain, sleet, high winds, ice, mud, fog. Maybe if it were April that would seem right. But it is February. We still have had no major snow storm. There has been some snow in the mountains but we have not had more than two inches of snow at home. It would be nice to have some snow. It is winter after all. We have, however, had some stunning days, and many of them have made me stop in wonder.

Two mornings ago fog filled the field across the road, curling over the temporary ponds and the overflowing river. Tonight as the sun went down it draped its pink light onto the freshly snow-covered mountains. We can complain about the weather. Or we can smile at the beauty of the world. It is beautiful every day. Why can’t that bind us together instead?

Afternoon, Stick Season

image

The river runs not high but not low. A sand bank toward the far side pushes the water away, causing the current to run faster. Across the river the banks drop steeply. In spring, Bank Swallows nest here, burrowing into the sand, flying low over the water to catch flies. Today it is not spring. Fall’s glory has passed. The brilliance of turning leaves is over. Those leaves lie in wilted piles among the bare shrubs.

But it is not yet winter. The current flows smoothly over rocks and sand and mud. A few moths still flit among the maples. There is no ice under which the water must crawl, no ice to scrape at the log lodged in the river’s bend. Snow does not yet fall. Today there are no clouds and the air is warm enough for scattered green leaves in the under-story to spread to catch the sun. But the sun is low, and will not last much longer today.

Upstream, at the mouth of the stream that melts into the river, a beaver just stirs in its lodge. It has been waiting for the light to dim, for shadows to grow long. It dips into the water, swims, waits again. Soon it will climb the bank to work at the silver maple it plans to fell. Already it has cleared smaller trees. It will chew away the bark, working steadily, wary of predators. Perhaps this tree will fall before winter sets in. Perhaps spring winds will send it tumbling. Perhaps it may prove more stubborn, standing for years before its top branches dip into the water. The beaver, however, does not concern itself with such possibilities. It simply works.

Two Blue Jays call across the bare trunks. A woodpecker knocks. A second calls to it and sends the first flapping away. A small breeze taps branches together, but mostly it is quiet. Crickets, cicadas, birds do not sing. Squirrels stay still. The woods here rest, exposed, not waiting exactly, not sure or unsure, just knitting the past into the present so the future can be only an imagined thing that does not matter to this day.

Soon the sun will drop below the hills. The day’s heat will drift off, like milkweed seeds across a field. In the dark, the river will seem louder. No bats will dot the skies but owls will call. Already owls are planning for spring, finding mates, starting nests. They plan for the future, like the beaver, doing today what must be done for tomorrow. Mice will crawl under dry leaves, finding seeds that won’t become flowers, feeding the owls, thinking only of right now, this November day next to the river that will not stop flowing, even when the ice comes.

Rainy June Days

IMG_0481It is sunny and warm this morning. It feels like summer. The sun is up, the air is humid. A Cardinal belts out his whistled song. The meadow grass bows. Across the road, the flood waters recede. It has rained for several days now, sometimes coming down hard. The river rose, then rose higher, then spilled into the fields.

My son and I wandered out into it a couple days ago. We chased frogs. They sang loudly enough to hear them across the field, but when we approached closely they clammed up and stayed hidden. Too shy for mammals I guess. We tromped through the new swamp, my cracked mud boots filling with water. We bushwhacked through the stand of willows, getting scratched and soaked. It was a blast.

Yesterday morning I wandered out to see how much flooding occurred. The field around the river with filled, although I have seen it higher. Water did not cover the road. Mallards swam far out, dabbling in the grasses for slugs. A Great Egret flew in later, wading through the pond, seeking out those frogs we heard. Maybe it would have better luck. A Great Blue Heron arrived while we ate dinner on the porch.

Already the water has dropped. The river will be within its banks today. Rain will likely fall again tomorrow. Thunderstorms will pop up more than once this month. June is here, and she is wearing summer. She looks lovely.

Frozen River

IMG_5717Yesterday my son and I walked down to the river. It was a perfect winter day–23 degrees, sunny, with a thin layer of new snow on the ground. A couple of Hairy Woodpeckers flushed as we got close to the bridge. A Tufted Titmouse whistled across the field. The air was still.

We walked through the trees to the water. In spring, the river bank is often flooded, water to my knees or higher, but yesterday the grass was brown and flattened, the puddles frozen. We could see the frozen river and all the way across the field on the other side. The landscape changes every season, every day really. Where in summer the scene would be green–the grass, the leaves on the trees, even the water–yesterday it was brown and white and blue. Beautiful either way.

The water was frozen from shore to shore. This is not a big river. You could easily toss a rock or a stick or dirt clod to the other side. But it moves along and meanders and isn’t typically solid, even in winter. We might have been able to walk across but we were cautious. We walked along the ice on the shore, watched the water flow under the bridge where the surface was not frozen, crunched our way through the sleeping vegetation.

To get back home we eschewed the road for as far as we could. I followed the shore north while my son bushwhacked through the willows. I watched the tops of them wave and bend as he pushed his way toward me. He emerged with a big grin. The breeze started to pick up as the shadows grew. We walked on the ice that filled the ditch along the road. Camel’s Hump glowed in the sun that has stayed away too often lately. The next morning the temperature would dip just below zero, but in the moment we were content with a fine winter day.

Foliage For Now

Not Bad, Eh?

Things are popping around these parts at this point. Yesterday and today were just simply glorious, fabulous, lovely, or whatever other descriptors I don’t typically use to describe, well, anything really. I was out early this morning and, once again, was reminded that I live in a beautiful place. It is always beautiful, and it is easy to take that for granted at times, but on days like today–hoo boy what a stunner.

A big fat rainstorm is predicted to hot tonight. We might get a couple of inches of rain, winds with 50 mile per hour gusts and cold temperatures.  My guess is we will have few leaves left at which to gawk when it has passed.  So it goes, however. We still have some fall left. And then, welcome winter. Once it snow, we will have a whole new wonder upon us.

Spiders in the Morning

In the morning these days, the sun catches the light across the field. The nights are cool, and that means dew on the leaves. The milkweed and grasses and goldenrod are covered in beads of water.  And if you look when the sun is shining at just the right angle, you see the spider webs. The light only lasts a short time and then they disappear, but if you catch it right you can see them everywhere.

There are hundreds of them, stretched between stalks, glowing in the morning light, their creators waiting for things to dry so they can have breakfast caught the night before, or so they can repair the damage and try again. There are too many to count.

Gazillions of Webs

I have been looking at them up close and took a few photos. Some are whole and some are broken. Each is amazing, a geometric wonder, woven by tiny creatures we usually don’t even see.

This One Liked the Black-Eyed Susans

More Perfection

This One Took Some Hard Knocks

And I found an orb weaver. This one has been settled in the flowers for weeks. They like to hang in one place for a while. Check out the zig zag below her. And check out how cool this spider looks. Kind of a combination of “don’t mess with me” and “don’t like I look beautiful?” all in one.

Queen of Her Realm

Fine Summer Day

Perfect Summerness

We had some friends visiting these past couple of days and we got out and enjoyed them, both the friends and the days. This morning included a bike ride nearby and I was struck by the beauty of the clouds, the wildflowers, and the mountains in the high contrast light. The wind blew, bending the tall stems in the field. Smells of earth and flowers wafted about about. The river flowed cloudy with yesterday’s rain. We sat and, well, just sat for a while, before heading back home.

Queen Anne's Lace and Chicory

Late in the day, our friends headed home, I finally stained the deck. It took longer than I anticipated, as it always does, but I am glad to have that done. Now I just hope the rain holds off long enough for it to dry. I really should have 24 hours for it to dry, but I guess this will have to do. We are forecast to get rain showers by early afternoon. Maybe they will hold off until at least late afternoon. The forecast seems to change every day. It must be summer.

Field of Flowers

End of the Day

Warm night. Lightning bugs dot the field. Children sleep their innocent sleep, half under blankets.

Summer has arrived. I watched the sun set on the lake tonight. The Adirondacks outlined in pink and red. Peepers still sing to one another in the darkness.

I am in love with everything around me–my wife, my children, this world. I am love with the lightning bugs and the sunset. My heart leaps up.

Dew settles as the air cools. The wind has the night off. The sun wakes the other side of the earth. Somewhere outside the house, a skunk searches for breakfast.

How can I sleep with such wonder? How can I sleep with such beauty? And what about love? That, too, keeps me stirring long after my family sleeps, long after I have risen and left my bed to gather the day’s dust.

Snow on the Ground

This morning it was snowing. It was kind of a bummer of a morning to fail to rally to get up early for a run, but my head was squeaking from all the pressure in my sinuses. I stayed in bed. There was white stuff on the ground, so we were all happy to look out and see it in the morning light. My son was literally jumping up and down in front of the window shouting, “My dream came true! My dream came true! It snowed last night! It snowed!” He was happiest to see the new precipitation it seemed.

It was coming down hard for a while, especially when it came time to drive. That was a bit of a snow and slippery event. Here is a shot of the scene before we fired up the old automobile:

Finally, some snow on the ground

By the afternoon, it had cleared. In fact, it was a stunning day. Check out Camel’s Hump, all decked out in her December finest:

Perfect December Day

Tomorrow we are looking to get some more weather. Snow is predicted to fall overnight and make morning driving a little sketchy again. We shall see. I never want to get excited for the possibility of a storm. I have been disappointed too many times. At least here. When we lived in the mountains we had the opposite situation–we would get lots of snow when only a little was forecast. But one can’t have it all. We never had the view above when we lived up high. I do hope we get more snow tonight. I will try to keep my fingers crossed, even when I am awake in the wee hours blowing my nose. Ah, winter.

Time on the Roads

I can’t say that I have had an easy time each morning I have risen to get a run in. Take this morning, for example. I was tired and fuzzy and hungry when I finally got out of bed, and let me tell you that was not quick process. It was dark. Clouds covered the early light and the half moon high in the sky. It was windy. I shuffled out of bed and changed into running duds. The temperature was 52 and thought, did I read that right? It was warm. So I put on shorts and long sleeves and slapped on a headlamp and a reflector vest and out I went.

My friend Pat, who is a fast enough runner to win now and again, once said to me, when I asked him how he keeps up the training pace, “There are many days when I just do not want to go for a run, but every time I do, I have a great experience.” What he meant was this: it may be hard to get started, but once you do get started, you won’t regret it.  That is pretty much spot on. Today was one of those days. Since it was dark, and the windows on the house are closed these days, I was imagining how cold it was going to be. It is November, and most dark mornings are cold. I recently ran when the temperature was in the 20’s.  This morning, however, was what you might call pleasant.

I had to use my headlamp for a bit. Cars and potholes make me cautious. But much of the way I ran in the almost-dark. It is a bit surreal at times to run when the wind blows and you can’t quite see what lies at the roadside–is that the shadow of a stump or a skunk?–and it is only you and your feet and your breathing and the road ahead. I  love that. A warm morning helps. I stopped for a couple minutes on the bridge over the river, to listen and to look at the shadowed water. It was, to use a word many shiver to utter, lovely.

I will keep doing it, this rising early to run. Some days I will go farther than others. Some days I will hop up eager to pull in some miles. Some mornings I will rise because I know I will be happy I do so even though I just don’t want to in that moment. But I rarely wish I hadn’t gotten up early to run. Only a couple of times have I been too preoccupied with my mental detritus that I would have been better off staying in bed for a while longer. But then again, I probably wouldn’t have slept anyway. In the end, I might as well just get up and go.

I am still wrangling with a bad cough and a bit a stuffed head. I look forward to that passing so I have a little more energy when I get out there in the wee hours, even if I haven’t had breakfast yet. Breakfast, by the way, tastes pretty good once you’ve already been outside for an hour or so. And who doesn’t like a good breakfast? I sit at the table, my mind clear and my muscles feeling good, and I look out at the view and look forward to the day. It may be hard to get up some days, but the time is well spent.

November View

November Morning at Breakfast