The longest winter

This month has not offered any of those glorious teaser days that bring the scent of spring, something to carry you through the remaining days of frost, freeze, and most likely ice storms. Just temperatures hovering around low to mid 30s, so the snow has been very gradually disappearing.

March 22
It was in the mid fifties today, so this was the first moderately Spring-like day of 2014. I wore my spring coat for the first time. Halfway through my walk, I saw two turkey vultures sunning themselves on a chimney. It was exciting to see them, and I got a lot of nice pictures. However, something went wrong in the upload to my computer, and I lost most of them. Here are the two that weren’t damaged.

big_bird_2big_bird_1Thanks to the grudging thaw of the past couple of weeks, I was able to walk through the back yard at the end of my walk for the first time since the series of big snow storms. The turf was soggy and felt vulnerable under my feet.

Hope springs: Sky and salt tide lines 2014

Feb. 11moonrise_2_12_2014

February is the bleak nubbin of winter. With holiday glitter a tarnished memory, snow and slush both present and predicted, it’s a granite time that winnows the New Englanders from the snowbirds.

And yet, the signs are there. Days are longer and the sky is somehow softer. My sunset walk is under candy pink and purple clouds, quite unlike the steely crystal skies of January. At the top of the steep road I call Cardiac Hill I’m stopped in my tracks by the sight and sound of 50 or more robins fluttering and chirping in a suburban yard.

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Primroses and pussycat

Although I didn’t walk today, I spent it in the garden, carrying bags of mulch and digging holes, so I feel that is a decent substitute for a daily walk.

After a few days out of town, it feels good to get back into my garden and take care of a few little chores. One thing I do quite regularly is move plants around. In a 15 year old garden, that’s the main job in the perennial flower beds: moving and sometimes dividing plants that have started crowding each other so that their arrangment is no longer pleasing or even healthy for them.

I am very grateful that we have managed to create a tiny slice of paradise on a suburban plot of land just a few yards from a busy street.
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Mossy, lichen-y love

New England is a great place for mossy rocks. So common here that we scarcely notice them, I am told they are sometimes imported at great expense to regions with a less fortunate geology, history, and climate. (Yes, I know that lots of other places are very nice, but I am an unapologetic lover of my home state. Massachusetts is simply the best place in the world, IMO.)

If you’ve ever been curious about the stone walls you see everywhere, including in the middle of the woods, I recommend this FAQ from the Stone Wall Initiative at UConn. PrimaryReaseach.org is another good place to learn a little more about the stone walls of Massachusetts.
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Spring!

If I recall correctly, this tree, which I pass at about the halfway point in my circuit, is an apple that blooms gloriously, so I’m keeping an eye on it.

Forsythia is such a cliché of spring in New England, but there’s a good reason for that. Forsythia catches the light and celebrates the sun best of all. The ornamental trees and bushes that bloom in May and June are almost all pink and white, which is sweet, but the clear yellow is invigorating.
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Ephemera that isn’t

Some things that should be ephemeral, or seem to be so, are not.

This charmingly decorated doorstep is right on the sidewalk, and smack dab next door to a convenient store where lots of teens hang out. I keep expecting it to be messed up, or disappear. Yet it has proved amazingly durable. I don’t know the secret of the people who live there. Maybe it’s home to the mother of all the local delinquents,  and they know what would happen if anybody so much as nudges one of those bottles.

Love the faded colors


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Cardiac Hill and prevailing wind

Walking, you learn the land. The knowledge lives in your body, not just in your mind.

My walk takes me to the top of a hill. It’s a long climb, quite steep in parts. I have dubbed the steepest stretch Cardiac Hill.  A friend told me she knows a woman living in my neighborhood who mentioned a cardiac hill in this area. I’m sure it must be the same street, and I am delighted that she gave it the same name.

When I started taking these walks, I was panting by the time I reached the top. Now, I can take it in stride. When I’m feeling ambitious I try to take it a little faster, so I’m a bit out of breath again at the top. There’s a flat stretch when you turn the corner, long enough to let my heart rate slow again, before the land slopes upward again, more gently.
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Missing snow

Hardly any snow fell this winter, and spring is almost here. We had a very unusual storm in October that did a lot of damage because it dumped heavy wet snow on trees still holding their leaves. Beyond that, we”ve had only a couple of inches here and there.

I call this kind of winter a Philadelphia winter because it has been chilly, gray, dark, and snowless. Most people are happy about this, and I understand why. The majority sentiment about snow can be summed up as “good riddance!”

Not me. I feel cheated by this winter’s mildness,  and it’s not because I’m an avid skier or snowboarder.
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