Sunday, December 18, 2016

Burnished Autumn to Bleak Mid-Winter

Autumn lingered long this year, with cool fog-laden mornings giving way to 
warm mid-day sunshine and blue skies.

Pasture and roadside grass turned tawny from lack of rain.

Wooly bears stretched on the warm cobbles of the drive.

A young local couple have purchased our fields by the creek. 
The land, rented out, was not providing the income that we hoped for, with maintenance and taxes a yearly need.
I asked if I might continue to walk there and was graciously given permission.
The acreage behind our house is heavily wooded and demands a steep climb up the ridge--stout exercise rather than a meandering stroll.

The field just before soybean harvest, with the view up the valley.

Finally, in late November, a frost that touched the herb garden.

A tangle of thyme, purple-tipped by the frost.

The nasturtiums planter lugged into the sunroom rewarded me with a dramatic burst of bloom before going shabby and yellow-leaved. I clipped them back and have noticed tiny new leaves emerging near the base of the stems. Perhaps they will bloom again.

When we were in Tennessee over Thanksgiving [already seeming a while ago]
my daughter-in-law and I browsed through the indoor garden center at Lowes while the men sought tools and other practical items. I pounced on several displays of amaryllis bulbs and Dawn generously insisted on purchasing two for me--as well as a package of paperwhite bulbs.
I'm thinking to plant the paperwhites this week. 
This amaryllis has stretched up several more inches since last week's photo, the second one is awakening more slowly.

A week of cold and dreary weather changed on Saturday to an uneasily warm and windy day.
By evening tree branches were clashing, dry leaves were flung in swirls onto the front porch. Rain came in brief bursts, pattering against the windows.  The temperature began to drop from an unseasonable high of 60 F. 
I went upstairs to bed about 11, listening to the whine of wind in the bare upper branches of the oaks.
As I settled under the covers [having displaced Nellie-cat] the velocity of the gale increased to a roar. Lightning blazed beyond drawn curtains, thunder muttered. Rain pounded the metal roof in a fury that lasted for 20 minutes. For the next hour brief spells of astonishing silence were interspersed with squalls of rain and renewed howling of wind.
When I came downstairs this morning at 7:30 the thermometer outside the kitchen window stood at 29 F.  A crust of pebbly ice coated the car's hood and windshield. 
The cats rushed out the back door--their usual morning explorations were quickly discouraged by the raw, damp chill of the day. 
They tried again an hour later, wisely decided that it was a day to huddle inside near the wood stove.

A few bronzed leaves still cling to the oak saplings on the ridge above the retaining wall.
The brook, long silent and dry, rushes noisily beside the lane.
B. and F. have been constructing end walls for the goat huts, creating three-sided enclosures.
On bitter days the goats will remain in the stable. 
The barn cats picked their way across the wet yard to greet me when I walked down at noon, but scuttled quickly to the dry refuge of the barn without escorting me back up the lane.

We've not been ambitious today. 
We tended to the necessary chores--litter box duty, bringing wood into the kitchen from the back entry. Lunch was reheated lentil soup, thick and savory.
I made a large bowlful of tapioca pudding--eaten warm with a dollop of cherry dessert topping.
Comfort food. 
I do not approve of cats reclining on the table [although I don't go to pieces over it!]
Feline rationale would seem to be that it is warmer at this elevation and the homespun tablecloth serves as a bathmat. Beyond the table is the small counter where we deposit bundles, or sacks of groceries on entry via the front door. There is a folded towel there for the convenience of the cats. 
I continue to shoo the boys off the table--but there are moments when it is easier to ignore.
Cats rule!


  1. Good to hear from you, such a great post, I could feel your weather. You're right about cats, pick your battles and let some things slide

    1. Janet; Disciplining a cat isn't very effective, is it? The battle may be won for the moment, but the feline mindset always prevails!

  2. Hah - cats rule indeed! Like you, I don't approve of cats on tables but mine don't normally go to sleep up there. I was SO pleased to see a jacket over the back of the chair - so homely and so like our kitchen. I did a jacket count yesterday and there are a few bare chairs now as FOUR jackets came out and the rest will join them this morning (mostly Keith's, I might add!)

    That was one heck of a temperature drop and I'm not surprised it was accompanied by a thunderstorm. Nearly at the shortest day now, and then the wheel of life will turn again and we will slowly come back into the light.

    1. Jennie; Re the cat issue--Bobby Mac has appointed himself as Jim's cat, working his way into that niche since the demise of Raisin. Jim 'allows' behaviors that I attempt to discourage.
      Jackets on chairs--sweaters, warm vests--the list grows as cold weather settles in. I think its partly not wanting to put on a garment that has been hanging in the chilly hallway. that being said, Jim made a coat rack with shelf above just inside the back door. There are 6 hooks. Jim's 'collection' takes up 5 hooks, leaving me few options!

  3. So good to hear from you. Your felines look very comfy on the table. In winter they know where the warm spots are.

    Happy Christmas holidays to you and yours ~ FlowerLady

    1. Rainey; Cats have an ability to make even lumpy spots appear comfy!
      Thank you for the holiday wishes--thus far we aren't very festive! I think of Christmas lights in climates such as yours--somehow Christmas cards always depict snow!

  4. It's good to see a post again, Sharon! I've missed your blog. That was quite s swing in temperature you had! Just been cold here, just as the old-fashioned Winters used to be. Merry Christmas!


    1. Jane; It is lovely to be missed! I had a one-track-mind project to finish [more about that later] and with that off my desk I hope to blog more frequently, write real letters, do some sewing!
      I've enjoyed the descriptions of your family's Christmas past and present.

  5. cats eh, what can you do! lovely catch-up post Sharon, seasons turning, time passing....

    Leanne xx

    1. Leanne; Trying to influence the mind-set of a cat is a thankless project! Bobby Mac is especially determined about the table as a promenade course, the more so if Jim is in the room to baby him!