The weather improved last week.
I was determined to be outdoors as much as possible in spite of having caught a heavy cold.
I shall remember 2014 as the winter of freezing temperatures and bouts of coughing.
Son-in-law M, took the above photo of the sand hill cranes.
He called me outside last Sunday afternoon to see them pass overhead.
I hadn't put on a jacket and was shivering while trying to focus the camera, so I handed it to him and he was able to get two nice shots of the third group of cranes.
When we traveled here in 2010 to find a home in Kentucky, we drove for miles along the North Platte River in Nebraska. The marshy ground along the river banks provides winter feeding for thousands of cranes and Canadian geese.
For hours the dark shapes of the birds dominated the sodden winter brown of the plains. Small groups of them glided overhead, landing to feed.
The cronking cry of the cranes marks their departure in early winter and heralds their flights north and east for the summer nesting season.
Edited to add after reading comment from denimflyz: I thought of the cranes as spending the winter in Nebraska, which, come to think of it, wouldn't make much sense in terms of winter temperatures. Apparently we saw them in their thousands 'resting' along the North Platte as part of spring migration from points farther south. In Wyoming they could be spotted during the short summer season with their leggy chicks in tow.
Here is some beautiful footage shot along the North Platte with info on the cranes and the sound of their peculiar cries.
The daffodils which in other years have poked up their heads in January and February, often with resulting frost damage, have huddled safely in the ground.
They have emerged cautiously and the buds are beginning to show a faint yellow glow.
Edward wonders why I am on my knees looking at these green spears.
Pebbles the Horse managed one of her periodic escapes on Thursday morning.
The wind was blowing and Pebs thundered up and down the pasture, head high and tail streaming.
I got a hand in her scanty mane at one point when she paused near the barn.
J. bellowed at me to hang onto her neck until he could find a lead rope.
I had no intention of being tossed aside by her plunging about and I let go, where-upon she galloped down the front pasture and across the road to the creek.
J. was by now feeling rather put out.
He leaped on the 4-wheeler and took chase.
After a bit of a circus Pebbles was cornered by the barn and submitted to being lead behind her electric fence, blowing and snorting.
Tearing about the fields like a youngster develops a thirst.
Meanwhile Nellie, having been outside early to hunt and prowl, had collapsed in dramatic fashion on the bed.
The boy cats come inside with muddy paws and their furry underneaths damp and bedraggled.
I keep a charity shop comforter on the bed to protect my quilts.
Nellie is blissfully asleep.
A rather be-fogged gaze as Nellie has finally become aware that I am taking ever closer views.
I spent an hour or more on Wednesday loping the nandina down to size, cutting away shriveled berries and frost blighted branches.
With Pebbles secured and mundane chores finished on Thursday I decided to do a preliminary raking around the herb garden. That done [and another session of mourning over plants which appear too blackened to recover] I began raking up the seed balls from the sweet gum tree.
The tree set an amazing amount of seeds which have been pelting down since late autumn, littering the upper drive, bouncing into the herb garden, some even rolling down the incline into the upper perennial strip.
I assembled two large piles of dry leaves and seed balls before the wind became so gusty that raking was futile. Banks of grey cloud roiled and raced across the sky.
My nose and eyes were streaming, so I put the rake away and came inside to mop up my face and put on the kettle for a mug of tea.
The phone began to ring just as J. followed me in.
It was the emergency warning system with a recorded message alerting us to high winds and
possible heavy rain throughout the rest of the day and into the evening.
Having mentioned the warning system I should explain that with the threat of extreme weather or a hazardous situation a message is recorded at the County Office of Emergency Management and is then activated to 'ring in' on all the phones within our county. When our phone is picked up we hear the recorded message.
On this particular day the weather brought us no emergency and much of the projected storm front by-passed us. A thunderstorm banged about shortly after midnight and I lay awake listening to the gusty wind and the pounding of rain on the roof.
Rain, warmer temperatures and several days of sunshine have stirred the earth into a cautious awakening.
Bobby-cat helped me to find a clump of emerging catnip to which he gave fervent attention.
J.'s elderly cat, Raisin, announced that she wished to toddle out to the front porch and sit in a cushioned chair facing the sun.
I, too, took advantage of afternoon sunshine, dragging a chair into the carport on Saturday afternoon.
It needed a fleece blanket draped around me to be comfortable.
I watched J. walking along the back field with a train of cats for company.
I read a few pages in my book, then sat quietly to marvel at the tracery of tree branches, still bare twigged, against the blue of the sky.
Spring is not quite settled in. There are frost warnings for two nights mid-week.
Springtime will bring a goodly amount of work this year--several of the garden areas will need to be considered and renovated. As such things happen, it will likely all 'want done' at once.