Saturday, December 3, 2011

Early Morning Frost--Firewood--and a Few Cat Photos

I was awake around 5 a.m. trying to be quiet. The cats, of course, knew that I was awake and I endured being lovingly stomped upon, kneaded through layers of quilts, purred at.
By 6: 15 daylight was seeping through the shutters.
I quietly gathered slippers and robe, and trailed by cats, tip-toed off to huddle in front of the fireplace.
The cats milled about and clamoured.
Right!  Dish out the tinned cat food and perhaps there will be a few moments of peace in which to contemplate the day!
The sun was just breaking over the ridge when I went outside, well bundled in warm clothes and boots, camera tucked in my pocket.
The frost-furred oak leaf caught my eye.  It lay on the grassy path across the back pasture--barely touched by the emerging sun.

I think this is a sycamore leaf--glossy and tawny.

I fed Pebbles her grain, then ambled down the edge of the front field and across the road to Big Creek.
Twisted vines make a natural wreath.

The recent rains made for squelchy walking along the creek. There is thick undergrowth, rotting tree stumps and tangles of vine.
Moss spread around the base of this stump, brilliantly green and fresh in the morning light.

Back across the road and up the boundary fence to where pasture meets the neighbor's woods.
The fence corner there is overgrown with wild rose canes, some stunted cedars and all manner of weeds.
In spring and summer stepping into the shady triangle is an invitation for ticks to hop aboard.
This small wild blackberry bramble glowed as the sun's rays fingered into the chilly shadows near the cedars.

Mullein, curled and folded like a cabbage, frost-furred.

I'm not sure of the identity of this leaf.  It may be a variety of cottonwood or a yellow poplar [tulip tree] We have both on the property.  I should have gathered some and brought them in to study, but--my fingers were getting cold!

Lichen shimmering grey-green on long-fallen branches at the edge of the woods.

Frost asters bent into whimsical contortions in the tall grass beneath the black walnut tree.

Friday was a beautiful day--sunny, crisply clear.
J. rounded up Gina and me to help load firewood in neighbor Ed's pasture.
The usual gathering of Jersey cattle assembled to observe.

Seconds after I snapped this photo, G. let out a startled shriek and dropped the piece of wood she had picked up.
Something furry had scuttled away as she disturbed the pile of wood.
"Furry" turned out to be a pair of voles or mice---short-tailed critters-- who had built a nest of dried grass under the teepee of limb wood.
I was reminded of the 'house' which Pooh and Piglet built for Eeyore at Pooh Corner.

One of the furries hastily trundled off to a nearby collection of twigs and branches.
This one darted here and there, stopping to burrow into the grass.
An added note:  Al pointed out that UK moles look different than the pictured rhodent.  In thinking about this I believe I have mis-called them. Although we have many true moles--or seem to, judging by the number of up-earthed runs in the dooryard--I suspect the creatures we disturbed may be VOLES or even a species of meadow mouse.

I stroked it with one cautious finger--soft fur like a rabbit--while G. scolded that it likely was a carrier of
something at least as dire as bubonic plague.

We unloaded wood, ate soup and cinnamon toast before hurrying to bring home yet more wood.
By 4 o'clock the daylight was slipping away.
D. arrived from after school errands to convey his Mom back to their house.
I folded myself gratefully into my rocking chair by the fire, a mug of tea wrapped in chilly hands.
I chuckled when I looked up at Willow asleep in J.'s recliner. Note the curled under toes of her back feet.

I have worked at quilt block construction several evenings this week.
Willis decided to 'help' by taking a nap on a bin of fabrics.
I needed to open the bin and prodded him awake, hence the sleepy-eyed stare.
He was disinclined to move.

I explained that he was in danger of having his toes mutilated by my rotary cutter.
I told him that he was in my way, that I needed to mark diagonal lines on the back of the red squares
and didn't feel he could be of assistance.
I mentioned that he was shedding tweedy hairs on my quilt-in-progress.
You can see that I was ignored.

Willis: inscrutable and immoveable!


  1. A very satisfying day I think. Willis and Willow made me think of Scruffy. I'm trying not to get too antsy for home, but once the packing begins I just wish I could wave a magic wand. The moles are interesting. Ours (in the field behind our house in England) were definitely blind. Or maybe they were voles.

  2. Seems like a good day. Some great photos in there too. Sleepy cats are such photogenic company.

    Those are very different moles to those here in the UK. Ours are small almost rectangular creatures with spade like feet at each corner and a round nose for shuffling muck out of the way as they tunnel underground.

  3. The early hours frosting looks as though the leaves had been dipped in sugar. Why do our feline children think they can help with crafting and cooking as Sid thinks he is needed to make every cup of coffee lol.
    Those are amazing shots of the moles.

  4. Isn't a frosty morn a thing of beauty? Your photographs are just lovely. The cats look so content.

  5. Chris; I always miss my cats greatly when we have to be away from home. Re the 'moles'--see Al's comment below--I'm quite sure I mis-named them.

    Al; You are correct in your description of moles--some dingy part of my brain suspected they didn't look right--I've done some checking and made a note on the original post--thank you! We do have miles of mole tunnels--but I think what we uncovered are voles or large mice. The dried grass nest should have immediately tipped me off.

    Angie; the little furry things seemed rather stunned at having their mid-day nap disturbed.
    Yes--cats in the kitchen--I'm always wiping down surfaces and thinking that non-cat lovers would hardly dare eat anything I make for fear a cat had breathed on it!

    Jane; The beauty of the morning was worth cold fingers. Cats can make most any spot look comfortable just by curling up there.

  6. sweet little thing, whatever he was! :-)

    and yay!! the return of willis!!
    willowe looks impossibly comfortable doesnt she? great photos!

    Leanne x

  7. Leanne; It seems incredible that the furry creature allowed me to touch it several times--I think he/she was completely dazed at having the nest disturbed. There is plenty of 'brush' right nearby, so finding another hidey-hole shouldn't take them long.

  8. Another nice post from your bit of paradise. It's amazing that you were able to pet the little mole. One day all creatures will be dwelling together in harmony.

    I just love Willow and Willis. We had a male tabby/tiger named Willy. Now we have a female tabby named Tork (we thought she was a male) :-)

    Have a wonderful Christmas holiday season.


  9. Thanks for an lovely post.
    I love the frosty leaves and the little vole.
    Keep warm

  10. Gosh, I needed that wander round your land to try and make me feel human again. Healthy cats too . . .

    Worried very much over Tippy, who had to go back to the vet's for further treatment - another enema has brought forth yet MORE bones, big sharp ones which have inflamed his bowels, poor boy. He's staying over at the vet's house tonight, tucked up warm beneath the bathroom radiator . . . Fingers crossed now . . .

  11. I did laugh, I had to go over the quilt I made my Mum with a roller, to get all the dog hairs off before I wrapped it :-D

  12. Lovely to see how well and contented Willow and Willis are now. No longer outside Barn Cats I suspect?

    Your "mole" looks rather like the British water vole, which is bigger than the field voles that live in our garden. Amazing to see a wild animal so close-up.

  13. I can't believe the little prairie mouse/mole/vole whatever he is actually let you get close enough to pet him! That was neat. He obviously sensed that you are an animal lover and weren't going to hurt him.