Blunt cold

pine cottage ornament

Fantasy writing cottage in the woods? No, a Christmas tree ornament.

It’s New Year’s Eve. The tree is still up but other decorations are put away.

It was 7 degrees this morning when the sun woke me up, the second waking. The first waking was at 3 a.m. when the pilot left for the bus to the airport to take the small plane to get to the other airport from whence he will pilot the big plane to warm southern places through the first few days of 2014.

hens

I waited till the temp climbed to 12 degrees to let the hens out of the coop and run, and I fed them a warm breakfast treat of oatmeal, yogurt and blueberries.

My birds have stopped laying in the short winter days, and as they finish losing feathers in their somewhat ill-timed moult. The barred rock on far right was the last to moult and she did so dramatically, with feathers all over the coop floor every morning. Her skin was showing in ugly bare patches that made me think of a half-plucked chicken heading for the oven. I’m not sure how she survived the recent bitter cold. She looks skinny, especially compared to the fluffy, fat buff orpingtons.

On the bright side of bitter cold, we have been able to skate on the pond. My skates are dull now, but as soon as I get them sharpened I will be blade-writing on ice again.

The day before winter

grapevine

I pulled on my tall muck boots and went out from the tasting room into the snow-covered vineyard yesterday afternoon to snap a few photos.

Winter came on hard and fast this December with single-digit temperatures before we were ready and storms that brought 10 to 14 inches of snow.

vine winter

The light is pretty, even if it doesn’t last long. I was going to get some “sunset” photos but then I was busy and the sunset was over *snap* just like that… at around 4 p.m. Night fell.

Christmas is coming and my shopping has been very Amazon-sourced this year. Santa wears a brown uniform and makes many visits to our doorstep.

For the first half of December, I was miserably sick with the worst cold virus I’ve had in probably 10 years. And after such a healthy, happy summer and autumn. I’m still a bit sticky.

cling

Winter starts tomorrow, officially.

My job at the vineyard wraps up a few days before the new year. It was a good experience but turned out to be too much time in the tasting room, serving wine, hardly any writing and online creating/ fixing up after all, and not enough of the autonomy and ownership I have grown accustomed to over the years. Old dog, new tricks.

I will stay connected and help when they need a bit of extra help.

So what next? Only the new year knows.

sparrows

Visitors.

Hope is the thing with feathers (254)
by Emily Dickinson

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I’ve heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

Snowy owl on a Seacoast rooftop

snowy owl

Snowy owl on the roof of a beachfront house, Seabrook Beach, N.H.

For many winters I’ve been keeping an eye out – and sometimes actually trying to find – a snowy owl who would pose for me. Today was my lucky day.

snowy owl

Profile.

Snowy owls, Bubo scandiacus, live far north of here but visit sometimes in winter when there are too many owls competing for too few lemmings and other tasty mammals in the Arctic tundra.

snowy owl

What a beautiful bird!

The regal Snowy Owl is one of the few birds that can get even non-birders to come out for a look. This largest (by weight) North American owl shows up irregularly in winter to hunt in windswept fields or dunes, a pale shape with catlike yellow eyes.

snowy owl

More from Cornell Lab of Ornithology

    • Look for Snowy Owls sitting on or near the ground in wide-open areas. They often perch on rises such as the crests of dunes, or on fenceposts, telephone poles, and hay bales. When they fly they usually stay close to the ground.
    • In winter, look for Snowy Owls along shorelines of lakes and the ocean, as well as on agricultural fields and airport lands.

The Owl Pages: Owls in mythology and culture.

Fun with… Animal Symbolism: The Meaning of the Owl. Owl Spirit Animal.

It was the summer of hawks for me. Will it be the winter of owls?