Wednesday, December 30, 2009

On a Dark Winter Morning

A dog nose in my face woke me rather effectively. I climbed out of my warm bed, stepped carefully over Berna, and headed to the kitchen to let the dogs out. I did a short Qigong practice while waiting for them, and then we all returned past Berna to the warm bed. I glanced at the clock - 6:30. Too early to get up in the dark, and too late to go back to sleep. I laid in bed thinking about the day ahead for a while, and decided to read a chapter before getting up.

A nose nudged my fingers. Berna, being 30" at the withers, reached my fingers easily from the floor. She settled for petting for awhile, but it was evident she wanted her turn outside. Another glance at the clock - 7:05. Why was it still so dark? Oh, yeah, it started raining last night. Low cloud cover in place.

While standing in the cold kitchen waiting for Berna, the kettle beckoned me and the coffee whispered my name. OK, a warm cup of coffee seemed like a reasonable comfort on a cold, damp morning, and a good excuse to go back to bed and read another chapter. A piece of toast would be a good accompaniment. Berna and the coffee and toast were done at about the same time, and we again traipsed back into the bedroom.

The roosters had been welcoming morning for a while when a mass of honks filled the air. A look out the window revealed the 3 lower geese climbing the hill, announcing their progress loudly to the upper geese pair. You have to love geese and their musical announcements of everyone's activities.

I settled back into the pillows with my book, coffee in hand and toast nearby. The large numbers on the bedside clock glowed ominously. What - 9:00? How did it get that late? It was 7:30 just a few minutes ago! Where did the morning go? Just one more chapter, and I'll get up...

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Flying Cape

When I glanced at St. Helens this morning, the shape was wrong. The "cap" cloud often found over peaks slipped off to one side, looking rather like a superhero's cape flying in the wind.

I know it looks dark, so I took this picture to show that the sun is indeed in the sky. It is 8:30 AM. Welcome to winter in the north of the lower 48. I got the feeling that St. Helens was getting ready to take off into the sunlight...

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Clouds over St. Helens


Winter days start late and end early. The sun is far to the south, described by an Australian friend as a golf ball arcing briefly across the southern sky. When it's clear, it's cold - beautiful, but I find it difficult to convince myself I want to actually go outside in the mornings.

Then I open the door.

When someone this beautiful is waiting for you, life immediately gets brighter.

His sweet demeanor urges me to hustle to the grain bin for food for him and his chicken friends.

And as I step down and glance right, I see the chickens racing over to join us and the hooved crowd waiting patiently for their breakfast.

The wild birds join in the feast. The jaunt into the cold is well worthwhile.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Mountain Scape

Today was another perfectly clear, crisp winter day, with all the mountains standing proudly covered in glistening snow. These pictures start a little north of east and continue to the southeast - the ring of mountains.

Mount Rainier behind the foothills

Mount Adams

The Cascade peaks

Mount St Helens

December Moon - New Mexico

Ken Stallcup was driving to New Mexico when the full moon rose. Many thanks to him for allowing me to share his series of moon shots.

December Moon - Alberta

I love full moons, and it seems to be a common feeling. A couple of my friends were also out taking pictures of December's full moon, Dec. 1, 2009, and have given permission for me to share them.

This series is by Louise Liebenberg, High Prairie, Alberta. For more pictures and great information on sheep raising, working dogs, and life on a large farm in Northern Albert, check out their website.

Isn't this one priceless?

And now it's light enough to see the beautiful farm, blessed by the glowing moon

Thank you Louise for allowing me to share.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Morning

It has been foggy, and Christmas eve the temperature dipped into the 20s. Fog freezes onto any nearby object. When the sun came out Christmas morning, the world became a shiny winter wonderland.

On my way to Seattle, I enjoyed the crystal-encased trees until I dropped into the valley. The day remained clear and sunny, the perfect background to a joyous family gathering filled with good food, good wine, and great people.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Winter Dogs

Frosty Dog

Toasty Dog

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Dramatic Sunrise

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Clouds in the Cold

It's supposed to be warming and heading towards rain - in other words, getting back to normal. The cold isn't so eager to go away. This morning there were light low clouds and the world was limned with frost.

9:00 AM, 24 degrees. The very small yellow ball in the midst of the clouds really is the sun.

The sky looks like it's made of ice. St. Helens is barely visible through the mist.

Little chicken perhaps finding some warmth in the tall grass. The sun is burning off the clouds, and the temperature has gone down a degree.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

A Cold Winter Night

I bundle up for the last animal/water/food check of the day. It's been dark since 4:00, and is now 15 degrees. I grab the flashlight and head outside. A bit away from the house I turn on the flashlight, and stop in my tracks. A thousand diamonds glitter back at me. The ground is covered with ice crystals, glistening and sparkling in the light. I spend a moment in awe, appreciating this newly discovered beauty of very cold weather.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Baby It's Cold Outside

Ice is forming at the rate of about an inch a night. Two night's worth here. I refill by hauling hot water out. People from places where it routinely stays below freezing have neat things like in-tank water heaters. That may become necessary if this kind of extended freeze becomes the norm here. Usually it warms up above freezing during the day, melting the night's ice.

My pond is frozen over, still decorated with the dusting of snow from Saturday. Some creature has walked out on it, but I didn't brave it.

The area around the pond is usually marshy. I didn't realize until today that there are streams of water feeding the pond, rather than a broader seep. Now the streams are frozen.

There are birds warming in every protected sunny spot. The peacocks appear to be standing guard...

a thought reinforced when they suddenly changed sides, and took up position again. The changing of the guard?

Millie, Applying Perfume

Monday, December 07, 2009

Sunday, December 06, 2009

December Freeze

The air is crisp and clear the way it is only when the temperature is below freezing. The stars are shining brightly, blinking in and out of the black sky. It is still and quiet as I stand in the woods, and then I hear a gust of wind in the trees on the other side of the hill. A chilly breeze slips inside my hood and caresses my cheek. I continue walking. Quiet resumes, then I hear another gust, this time to the north. Each gust seems to come from a different direction, heard first, then felt, as the wind travels through and leaves us behind.

My bantams, trying to stay warm and out of the wind. The chickens are not happy with the cold weather.

Friday, December 04, 2009

The Best Owl Photos

I recently received another email forward of wonderful pictures without credits - this time of a fawn and rabbit. The pictures had copyright information on them. I looked up the photographer - and what a find that was!

Tanja Askani is a professional photographer in Germany, specializing, it seems, in animal photography. She shares her amazing pictures on her blog. While the site is predominately in German, language isn't necessary to appreciate her work. Follow the link to Fotografie, and then click on the titles to get to the pictures.

The best owl photos I've seen are here. The deer and wild rabbit series that got me started on the search does have English translations. These are all well worth viewing.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Moon Over Mt Rainier

Full moon at sunset, a clear day in December. The mountain looks lit from within. The sad part is this was taken at 4:30.

Mt. St. Helens also lit in pink against a mauve sky. The gift of two weeks rain is the surprise, joy and appreciation of seeing white clad mountains standing tall and majestic against a clear sky.