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img_2732Stuck in between the wonderment of December and the madness of March, February is my least favorite month of the year!

Come February, I am traditionally posting photos of a winter-white landscape, complaining about frigid temperatures, and longing for the color green. I am apt to reread Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “The Long Winter” or pull on my boots and trudge to the “way back” to see what havoc the resident herd of deer have bestowed upon our little acreage. I ceremoniously don my very old, very long, black wool coat with massive hood and scurry out to the mailbox to see what is inside. I keep the coat for just such times for it is as warm as it is voluminous – and it cushions my tush against any tumbles I may take while slipping and sliding here along the Cutoff.

This year has presented itself as a rather mild February; record-breaking, if fact be told. Hereabouts, we love to tout our weather records. We recognize weather-versaries, such as the renowned Valentine’s Day Blizzard, and mark in time the largest snowfall, the most sub-zero days, the most snowfall on sub-zero days, the windchill, the chilblains. (okay, I made the chilblains up).

 A February phenomenon.

We have had this year a string of record-breaking February temperatures. We have had temperatures well over 60 degrees (F) for several days in a row, surpassing temperatures   of 130 some years ago.

We find ourselves wandering about in light jackets – or no jackets at all. People are smiling, lawns are greening, trees are budding and folks are out-and-about picnicking, golfing, and otherwise enjoying the welcome sunshine and warmer air.

So it was that the Antler Man and I took a pleasant Saturday stroll around Lake Katherine. It was so crowded that we had to park the car in the parking lot of a nearby office complex. While parking was a challenge, walking around the lake was not, even with families and strollers, dog walkers and couples both young and not-so enjoying the gifts of nature unusual for a mid-February day.

As we walked about, we heard a flock of Sandhill Cranes, deep in the deep-blue sky, with their distinctive calls amid their great migration. A pair of swans preened in the Lake as a family of turtles sat upon logs sunning close to the shore. Further along the winding path, a single turtle positioned himself out on a fallen branch, balancing his protective shell as a gaggle of geese honked away as if in a traffic jam during rush hour.

So it is that this phenomenal February has risen in rank to one of my favorite months – at least so far this year. I say this knowing that many of you are experiencing much different weather, threatening and disastrous, in fact. Please know that my thoughts and my prayers are with you.

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“We walked in so pure and bright a light… I thought I had never bathed in such a golden flood, without a ripple or a murmur to it. The west side of every wood and rising ground gleamed like the boundary of elysium,and the sun on our backs seemed like a gentle herdsman, driving us home at evening.”
-From “Walking” by Henry Thoreau; 1862

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Half Past Late

img_2390Dawn had already broken as I padded down the long, narrow staircase to the first floor of our little homestead. Reluctant to climb out of bed, I had fallen asleep long after half past late. I awakened sluggishly, yet, there they were, slipping in through the kitchen door, past the kitchen counter then down the hall, splashing radiant rays of sunshine around our home!

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As I stepped too the last of the steps, the sun kissed the recessed bookcase and danced into the living room,  landing on a candle and setting in aflame.

After eight days void of sunshine in a month of unending gray and gloomy skies, the sun was a most welcome visitor and seemed to lighten the heavy load of January in our cold and fickle northern climate.

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In the kitchen, I happily discovered  that the blooms on the Amaryllis I wrote about in the last post had opened up and greeted the sunshine streaming in.

Today’s sunshine was a ray of happiness here on the Cutoff. How i the weather in your neck of the woods?

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img_2225The first Amaryllis bulb came home with me in early December. It was just a bulb with instructions to place it in a container (a pot, a bowl, a plate) and to let it be. No water – or just a small amount if I really felt it was needed.  I placed the bulb in a shallow dish, added a few tablespoons worth of water, and proceeded to let it be.

The very next day I could see the emergence of a bud. It was small, looked different from the thick leaves and I was armed with just enough gardensense to know it was the start of a flower.

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A week or so later, I brought home another bulb. By now the first bulb was pushing up at least a half-inch worth of stem each day, the bud was holding on tight and reaching strongly for daylight coming through the window. I turned it daily with care so it would not become top-heavy.

Both Amaryllis bulbs came from grocery store, a local chain, that I frequent. Bulb #2 found another dish and proceeded to try to follow to the first bulb in growth.

Yet another week and another Amaryllis bulb followed me home. I felt the need (OK, the urge) to buy it. It was one of the last bulbs in the store’s barrel. How could I leave it behind? Each bulb was $8.00 and the first two were so rapid in their growth, that, well . . .  you know me and flowers.

These exotic bulbs put on a spectacular performance throughout the month of December and well into January, showing off with amazing blossoms that seemed to be perfectly timed so that new blooms opened up as old ones faded away.

img_2227As the flowers died back, I gently snipped them off, amazed at the amount of liquid that secreted out of the stems, especially since I had not watered them! I eventually cut them all back, with just one bloom left on one of the stems. She did not disappoint. This  weekend, now mid-January, there was this amazing blossom (above).

I have displayed these bulbs along my center countertop, right behind the kitchen sink. They have been a bright spot in what has been a predominately gloomy winter. They have performed quite spectacularly. At the moment, there is the one last bloom, but, much to my delight, the other two Amaryllis bulbs, which I thought were dormant, have sent up new shoots which look like they will be opening by week’s end.

How wondrous our world is and what a joy these small little pleasures in life can be. It looks like there will be enough Amaryllis blossoms to take me through at least the month of January, and now I am wondering if I can facilitate dormancy for next December.

Have you had any experiences with Amaryllis bulbs?

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when the bee stings,

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when I’m feeling sad

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I simply remember my favorite things

 

and then I don’t feel so bad.

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Just a few of my favorite things.

img_2151What things make you happy?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Cough drops.

All I needed was cough drops.

I parked as close to the door as I could on a recent cold and rainy day. This was one of a few short errands that had me in and out of the car for a few minutes at each stop. Gas station. Cleaners. ATM. The grocery store was on the route and had a pharmacy, so, there I was.

I didn’t need a cart, or so I thought, silly me. One always needs a cart in the grocery store, even if just running in for one item. If nothing else, a shopping cart is something to hold onto when you are navigating the aisles and trying to find your phone, which, at that moment was ringing. Loudly. It is set to chirp like a bird!

Missed call.

I was momentarily stunned by the visual display of tulips, daffodils and orchids in the floral department. I know. It is hard to imagine someone like me sidelined by flowers, but, there I was, soaking in  the radiance of blossoms. I must have admired every petal before recalling my mission as a coughing spell commenced. It abated just long enough for me to wander down the sale aisle where ornaments, candy, paper napkins and doo-dads were reduced. No, thought my reasonable self, head down, Penelope, and off you go to the pharmaceutical aisle.

It was just as I turned right that my left eye caught something moving in between the styling gel, hairspray, and deodorant.

Penelope Pitstop, ace sleuth in the supermarket, off on another amazing adventure.

I slithered down the aisle, muttering to myself,  hoping no one was watching me. I could be wearing ear buds, a Bluetooth, toothpaste, paste wax, or whatever those ear thingies  are called. I could be on a mission of utmost importance.

There is was. Again.Under the shelves.

I tiptoed, in my galoshes, slowly, step-by-step, and there is was, looking at me as if hearing the call of my phone, then quickly crossing the aisle and ducking under another row of shelves.

Aha. Playing hide-and-seek are you? Be careful. There’s a clerk over yonder, stacking shaving cream and men’s deodorant. Actually, she didn’t see the bird,. She was eyeing me with a measure of suspicion. Sometimes I wish I had an invisibility cloak. 

I tiptoed around, following it; not a mouse (thank goodness), but, a sparrow gathering tidbits under the shelves. In and out she slipped, from magazine to cleaning supplies, under the peanut butter and over the canned peas. If she keeps this up, i muttered, she’ll end up in the meat department, but, no, there she was in produce, before the next round of hacking coughs sent me back to what I came for.

Humming Peter, Paul, and Mary’s rendition of Keep Your Eye Upon the Sparrow (Wish I Was a Single Girl), I grabbed the Luden’s, paid for my purchase, and hoped the little, lost sparrow found her way out of the grocery store and back to wherever she nests, humming my way back home.

I hope all is well with you and yours.

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Hawk

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I saw him as I rounded the bend in the road.

It is really just a slight incline that opens from the small forest that borders our little island of homes. It is a pleasant enough bend in the road as we rumble along to the main street.

I have noticed him several times recently, but, had not expected to see him right them.

I slowed down, engaged the emergency flasher on my car, and watched, hoping no one would drive up behind me.

There he sat, a prince perched on a lofty branch, surveying his principality. He seemed to stare at me, daring me to open my window on a bitterly cold day – so, I did! No sooner had I clicked  – or whatever it is that a cell phone camera does –  when he swept upward, exposing his red tail and underbelly, executed a brief half circle, then soared across six lanes of interstate traffic before he dipped onto the small hill of opposing vegetation, then swooped up to a tree on the other side, prey in his talons. Phew!

 Luncheon was served.

As I engaged my still mocha colored VW with a latte interior, eyes on the road ahead, what to my wondering eyes should appear, but, another red-tailed hawk! This one was atop a light pole, and did not wait for me to capture his likeness. He just lifted up and across, following the west bound traffic on the other side before disappearing from sight.

It was a good day.

I won’t attempt to write about the silly sparrow who chose to shop at the grocery store!

 

 

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