Tuesday, February 13, 2024

February: A Reprieve From Winter

A brilliant sunrise on February 8 ushered in a 'weather breeder.' The digital thermometer read 46 F as the sun spilled over the sky. At 9:15 in the evening it was 56 F. 
Friday morning, the 10th, dawned dark and damp, but still warm. The sky hung low and brooding with clouds. At daybreak on Saturday morning thunder crashed sending the cats under the bed. The scent of rain blew in through the partially opened west window. Thunder and lightning moved on quickly, leaving spatters of rain which continued through the day. 
Rain and darkness hung with us for the next two days. I gave up waiting for a sunny day to dry bed linens on the line, put them all through the clothes dryer. 

Today has been clear and sunny after a night of torrential rain. The light crisp wind would have dried sheets pegged on the lines, imparting that fresh outdoor scent. We've had windows open this afternoon airing out the fusty wood-smoke aura that permeates the house in winter. 
I pulled on boots to walk around the meadow, the upper slope drying in the sun and wind while the lower lane is squelchy with water standing in the ruts. 

Dandelions spring up here and there unfazed by frost or the days of mid-January snow.

During the summer a catnip plant  asserted itself  close to the west wall. Perhaps the cement holds the warmth of sunny days encouraging fresh growth. 

Willis, supervising my poking about in the winter-stunned garden, has discovered the clump of catnip!

A goodly wallow in the cat drug of choice leaves Willis leaning woozily against the nearest support.

A battered viola has blossomed after being encased in snow.

Last spring I spotted a small clump of daffodils blooming in the straggle of trees and underbrush just off the path that skirts the south ravine. 
I remember that Nellie-cat took one of his last walks with us that day.  
I intended to move the bulbs to join the ones that live near the Jane magnolia, but lost the location as summer vegetation took over the spot. I'm thinking that if I dig carefully now I could re-settle the clump. Strangely, with the swaths of wild daffs spreading along nearby roadsides, I have found only two isolated small clumps here on our property. 

Signs of life on the clematis vines assure me that they have survived the winter thus far. These leaf buds of Jackmanii are midway up the large trellis. 

Dr. Ruppel on the other side of the trellis is also showing life. 
On the south-east side of the house clematis Candida and her neighbor Duchess of Edinburgh are presenting nubbins of growth. 
They revive much too early each year coming into first bloom in time for the late frosts of April and early May. I will doubtless be out on chilly evenings wrapping the trellises in old sheets and towels. 
While our native New England shivers under repeated snowfall, Kentucky grants us days of nearly spring-like warmth to offset those that bring icy rain and biting wind.
We are headed toward springtime, but the vernal equinox brings no promise that killing frosts are over. Sunny mornings, warm afternoons and lengthening evenings encourage us that the seasons remain on course.

The span of colder weather in January wasn't conducive to painting my bookcase. We kept the connecting door to the sunroom closed. Afternoons on the 4th and 5th of February brought sun through the south and west windows warming the room sufficiently to paint. I had planned to lightly brush black over the dark red and sand it back for a vintage effect. With the long delay in the project I decided to touch up the red and be done. 

Jim moved the bookcase downstairs to the big room, lashing it to a furniture dolly and trundling it down the slope to the back door. [The staircase between the main floor and lower floor is too narrow for furniture moving.]
A number of errands and household tasks kept me busy the rest of the week.

Dark and stormy weather on Sunday was ideal for sorting and shelving books. I turned the heat on in the big room and tackled books in boxes, books in two other bookcases, books stacked in a tipple on a small table, attempting to assign shelf space to historical novels, mysteries, collections of essays, devotional subjects, old favorites that have been with me through many moves. 
The categories have remained flexible. Sometimes when collecting the works of a particular author I have to include mass-market paperbacks to fill out a series. This can make for a certain untidiness on the shelves. I've had to put aside a few old paperbacks that are too faded and spongey to keep. Cherished books in the big glass-fronted hutch now have more breathing room.
A collection of books is always subject to the process of culling and keeping; a few purchases are disappointing, not interesting enough to be read again and these go into a small pile to be donated. Over the years I've donated a very few that I'd like to revisit. 

I'm pleased with the bookcase project and I think I'll be able to locate a desired volume without too much searching.
There is, of course, a known liability in sorting a bookcase.
One opens a book at random. begins reading, though not at the beginning, and half an hour later is jolted back to the task at hand.
There could be far worse ways to spend a rainy Sunday afternoon!



  1. I too have noticed the beginnings of growth on Clematis here - and there were the first stirrings in the wild when I gathered the makings for the last-minute Christmas wreath - the wild Honeysuckle I gathered had sprigs of leaves on it. A few Celendines out now too and the odd stubborn Dandelion. Our winter has been wet rather than cold.

    Your bookcase looks great and nice to have a bit more room for books. I have been sent dozens by my friend and some I just cannot get into and pass on. I would like to re-read some Phil Rickman but never have the time to just sit down with a book in the day. I pick the odd one up from the charity shelves at the Co-Op or Tesco supermarkets but don't indulge myself with anything new.

    Willis is SO like Ghengis to look at. I smiled at his looking so woozy after finding that scrap of Catnip!

    1. Jennie; I am frustrated each spring with the too forward leaf budding of the clematis vines. Nothing I can do to delay this, so I have the choice of wrapping emerging blossoms during the cold spells or letting the frost take them. Still, I'm quite grateful that mankind hasn't devised a way to change the progression of the seasons.
      Willis has always had 6th sense regarding our where-abouts--he appears and offers his assistance for any task. Tabby cat fur patterns intrigue me endlessly--I call the look of Willis and Ghengis 'tweedy.' Herman, the feral-in-residence, has a similar coat but his stripes are darker. My darling Rosie wears a deep velvety grey with only a faint shadowing of stripes on her flanks, but she has the tabby-spotted tummy. Then there's Teasel, a tabby-point Siamese. To misquote Gerard Manly Hopkins: all things dappled, freckled. stippled, etc.

  2. Dark and unsettled weather is great for motivating me to do some organizing too. Your bookshelf looks good. I read recently an article that recommended arranging books according to their colour. That would never work for me. I wouldn't be able to find anything I was looking for.
    I will look for some Cat Nip when I buy my Spring plants. I'm sure Miss Kitty will love it although she avoids the little pan of cat grass that I grew for her recently.
    It's cold and windy here today or else I'd go walk around and look for any new growth on my perennials. Maybe it's just as well that they wait a few more weeks.

    1. G.M; Catnip grows easily from seed; I've raised it by sowing in a flat in late winter then moving the plants outdoors when they are sturdy. Once established it self sows enthusiastically. I always harvest some to dry, then crumble the leaves though a sieve and store in a covered jar.
      I've seen decorating magazine articles where vintage books have been collected merely to serve as decoration, bindings in coordinated colors. That would never do for me!