Monday, December 17, 2012

Unsettled Weather

An unsettled day, something about the weather not right for what I know of December.

Winters came early in Wyoming, usually with October snow that stayed until spring. Bright blue skies and high sunshine predominated, but companioned by winds that roared icily down from the mountains. Standing on my west-facing porch I could taste and feel snow or sleet bourn on the rushing air, watch a storm roll down to the valley until the buildings across the highway were lost in the white and howling blur. When the storm gusted past, the sun glittered on snow, the cold bit fiercely at fingers, ears and toes.

December in Vermont could be a time of capricious weather; a time when the sun rose sullenly [if at all] over the Green Mountains, skulked behind a wall of clouds, riding a lowering sky westward to sink behind the wooded ridges which marched darkly toward Lake Champlain.

Usually there was snow--Christmas card pretty, covering the roofs and gardens in the small villages, disguising the frozen mud of farm dooryards, powdering hedgerows and shorn fields with a
clean white coverlet.

Christmas was about practice for school programs--construction paper in red and green, paste, glitter; costumes contrived and shared.

Christmas was Junior Choir rehearsal with the flapping raven-black choir robes brought out of the storage cupboard and held up for length. Mothers took them home to iron, to starch the wide white collars. We were lined up, drilled in the dignity of procession to a 4-4 beat--"Angels From the Realms of Glory.'

The snow was admired, the winter skies watched; no one wanted a 'Green Christmas'--a thaw that brought sleet or freezing rain reducing back roads to a slithery hazard, lawns to a brown-green slush.

I've not lived in Kentucky long enough to make weather proclamations, to know what is the seasonal normal. I've found December dandelions in bright bloom near the clothesline. We are still cutting kale and bringing in cabbages from the garden.

Stirring the ashes of last night's fire while the morning coffee perked, I wondered if we needed heat today. The heavy curtains over the sliding doors stirred in the breeze as the cats rushed in and out, restless,
mildly cantankerous.

I drove the few miles to Wal Mart early in the afternoon--an excursion guaranteed to make me as cantankerous as the restless cats!
I had decided--belatedly--that I needed a few cards to send out.
I roamed through the aisles of Christmas clutter--shiny paper, glittery baubles, net bags of pine cones so heavily infused with cinnamon as to be over-powering;
Racks teemed with cards labeled ridiculously as to their intended recipient [aunt-religious; son and his wife--humorous; spouse--inspirational.]
Failing to find any that interested me I headed to the office supply section hoping at least for a holiday-themed paper for my printer, a packet of red envelopes.
I stomped about, disgruntled, picked up the necessary coffee cream and headed for the checkout stands.
On a rack in one of the stands [not open, of course] were a few boxes of cards--the old-fashioned dignified sort.
I wavered over one with a lovely cardinal on a pine bough.
In the end the artistry above won the day with the nostalgic black and white of an old New England farmhouse, bare tree branches, a silvery moon.
It is doubtful that I'll get them out on time--that will mean another trip to the post office in town.
[Grumble, Bah! Humbug!]

As I drove the few miles home white puffs of cloud rode a sky of mottled blue. By the time I had unloaded my goods and walked down the drive to the mailbox the wind was picking up. Banks of purple-black piled in the north, darkness moved down from Payne Janes hill, casting heavy shadows over the corn ground. Pebbles the old horse raised her head, seeming to assess the changing weather as sudden thunder rumbled.

Rain spattered, the power cut off as the oven was heating for chicken and biscuits, flicked back on again and held steady. The cats huddled on the hearth rug as the wind swept past the house.

Darkness moved in early, heralded by the unexpected rose and lavender of a mid-winter sunset.

December in Kentucky may take getting used to--but it beats shoveling snow!


  1. We are having very odd weather for this time of year, too. Freezing rain and mild temperatures. What snow we had is fast disappearing. I always feel like I've read a chapter in a good book when I read your posts. Do you tell stories to your cats as you sit by the fire? I like to read out-loud to them if we are alone and I have the time to relax. They love the sound of my voice and seem to enjoy the fact that I am sitting still for awhile. Love your Christmas cards. Very pretty.

    1. Hi Deb; I don't read aloud to my cats, but I defintely keep up a running conversation with whichever ones are within earshot! Jim and both talk to them in a way which some people would think a bit silly--but there it is--I can see that you understand.
      I'm glad you enjoy my 'chapters' and that you've taken a minute to let me know. My favorite bloggers always make me feel that I've been invited in for a chat and a mug of tea--its simply homey!

  2. It's grey and damp here - not at all Christmassy weatherwise. I really like the card you've chosen, I find it harder and harder every year to find cards that I actually like - robins have figured very heavily this year as they seemed to be the only cards that weren't either pink or pale blue!

    1. Rowan; Pink and pale blue don't seem like winter/Christmas colors, do they?
      I have to tell myself that the grey damp days are replenishing moisture after our long dry summer--most days the skies clear for long enough to be outside.

  3. We've been experiencing terrible storms here with power outakes and structural damage up and down the coast across the weekend. The below zero temperatures of last week have lifted into single figures but the dampness in the air makes it feel much colder and is a misery we are unfortunately used to here. Low, opressive grey skies are the norm and I go to work and return in the dark. Morning frosts can still be fierce and with every weather forecast I'm waiting on the wind direction to change and bring a different spin if we get air from the Arctic or continental Europe. Dusk and dawn are short lived but sometimes lovely. The rest of the time the sky is often steely.

    I enjoy Winter - all seasons in fact - but somehow this one is getting under my skin.

    Cheers from across the pond!

    1. Al; How nice to hear from you and to have your description of the weather in Scotland. Having to drive in the dark at both ends of the day is disheartening.
      I just looked at photos and a map of your area and was surprised to learn how much of it is seacoast--damp indeed.

  4. I just loved this post - even with the bah humbugs. Your chicken and biscuits look exactly like mine. I might make some for Sunday dinner.

    I love your new header - the sky is simply gorgeous.

    1. Lillian; I realized when I re-heated the chicken and biscuits today that I should have added more gravy. Other than that the flavor was better the second time around.
      We do have some pretty sunsets here--the colors change even as I run for the camera.

  5. Texas winters are usually mild with an occasional snow day thrown in. 80 today, 78 tomorrow and then 50's after that. Looks like it will stay dry this year. Sure could use some preciptation of any kind!

    1. Jan; It sounds like you could do quite a bit of winter gardening in your area. So many parts of the country are needing relief from drought!

  6. I love that last pic :-D
    I'm guessing the "biscuits" are what we call a scone topping? It certainly looks very tasty!

    1. Kath, I know the British term 'biscuits' is what we call 'cookies' in America. These are often referred to as 'baking powder biscuits.'
      I cooked diced potato and onion in a bit of broth, added the frozen mixed veg and lastly the chicken and gravy. The hot mixture was turned into a casserole and the biscuit topping put on for a quick bake in a hot oven.
      I was pleased with the dish other than the above mentioned need for extra gravy.

  7. Love your header too. Very atmospheric.

    We are having odd weather in that it is so changeable - and we never seem to know from one day to the next whether it will be dry/wet/cold/warmer/windy/frosty. Nothing stays long, weatherwise. We have predicted heavy rain tomorrow/Thursday though. Sigh.

    I have sent far far fewer cards than usual this year because the postal charges have shot up this past year, and the Post Office will soon be out of business entirely . . .

    1. Jennie; When my parents were living I found that the cost of sending small gifts across country was often equal to the value of the items in the package. Even letter postage adds up, especially for overseas.
      Having purchased the cards I'm reminded I haven't much time left to address them and take them to the Post Office--I usually miss getting things out on time in our rural route box.
      I think the weather humbles all of us--not a thing we can do about it except try to be prepared for whatever is thrown at us!