Monday, December 29, 2014

Edging towards the New Year

Lighted Bike

Downtown Whitefish

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First seven inches of snow

streaming snow

17 inches Sunday Morning
The snow started Saturday late morning and continued until the next morning early. 17 inches at the house. Before driving home on Saturday I went downtown for a few errands. The wind was whipping up and the snow was flying . The nice thing about decorations in the winter is that it makes the cold season a bit more cheerful. A bike rider crossed the street near by . I followed wanting to get a picture of the super cool bike with lights on the tires. He disappeared around a corner but lucky for me he stopped at the liquor store.  When I returned home we had the first 7 inches on the ground . By morning the second 10 had joined . The trees had been transformed to near snow ghosts. The snow is a blessing though. Good snow pack is water next year and a nice insulating layer now for the tender plants hibernating winter. Time to rest , stoke the fire and contemplate the New Year just around the corner .

Monday, December 22, 2014

On the ski mountain

On Whitefish Mountain near the Base Lodge 

winter skies on the ski hill 

the girls visiting 
A bit of winter for you . My part time job takes me to the ski hill a few days of the month. The snow was falling and nice for skiing  filling in the bare patches from earlier in the month. The valley continues to be warm in the low 30s with rain . Glad to see the snow higher up . The girls came through for a visit earlier in the morning . They are like dainty cows in a way . Cute animals of course when they are not eating my flowers.

Saturday, December 20, 2014


Winter sun in the Southern Heaven

clouds boiling over Jewel Basin

Frozen passage on the Lake

Winter Greetings from  Latitude 48.  ( Aye , I know that my friends in Canada and Alaska are more North ) On the winter solstice the sun will make it to 18.4 degrees on the horizon. That is low enough for me . I will be glad to see it's return to a warmer and more elevated position . For those in Montana Winter solstice will be here at 4:03 PM MST on December 21st. It amazes me how astute our ancestors were in noticing the turning of the stars and our sun , all without that annoying voice on the GPS. Although GPS is certainly a fun gadget , is it making us dumber and less aware of how to navigate? Brave our ancestors were to board rickety wooden ships and cross the oceans with hand held instruments. No GPS in sight .

This is a good time to take stock of where your footprints have been . Take a moment to consider how many people have received your kindness and compassion  Are you taking care of those things that have been put into your trust ? 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Steaming Monday

steam rising from the firs in the sunlight 

True confessions. We have a lot of clouds in the winter . This definitely leads to a vitamin D deficiency but it also makes you a bit buggy . When the sun does present itself it is a wonderful celebration . To stand in the warming rays and enjoy the feel of the sun on your face. Ok so it still does not make vitamin D in the winter. The sun is too low in the sky. Nontheless it is nice to buzz outside and enjoy something besides grey. Last night due to the clearing of the clouds Orion was clearly visible in the night sky  . There is nothing like the brightness of the winter stars . A beautiful sight . And today we will enjoy the Sun sans usual shrouding .

Sunday, December 14, 2014

March in December

Forest in the front yard 

Hoof print of a friend 

Friendly firs

wood sled
There is an unwritten rule that requests the temperature to stay under 30 degrees once winter commences. The weather is ignoring that this year and we are drippy. A similar drippiness occurs in March as we thaw from the winter . Needless to say it is very slippery out . I have remembered to secure a sled this year for my wood transportation. Normally I make 4 trips to stock the wood box for a 24 hour period . However the sled is great and easily moves 8 pieces at one time which will last a good 24 hours . The wood heat is much more warmer than the propane altho that is certainly an option.  Grateful for dry seasoned wood and a stove that has low emissions. We often get inversions in the Valley and I am glad I am not boosting the particulate matter .

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Catching up : Happy in Montana

My beautiful Larch Friends 

Forest floor with Rocky Mountain Maple

All that grows is not fungus 

A small forest of fungi

Diversity in Nature 

Creeping Oregon grape

My favorite Daughter (trying to avoid freezing ) 

Piliated wood pecker enjoying the bird feeder 
I am shocked to my senses realizing that I haven't posted since the end of September. My apologies. Life seems to have gotten away from me . October was spent buttoning up the yard and planting garlic for the spring. I had several weeks of fighting with the turkeys as they found my mulch very hard to resist on the garlic beds .

Then the firewood arrived . Late. The wood folks had truck trouble twice. I try to exercise patience as I am not of the mind to split 3 cords of wood in my spare time . Bob came out with his three Labs ( a mother and her two sons ) and was more than kind and gracious in his delivery. He made a perfect bull's eye and the giant pile landed without incident . An incident  would include squashing the neighbor's fence .

November was somewhat fair to begin with. This is a sense of false well being as Winter is always ready to settle on us at a moments notice. About mid November we had a heavy wind storm preceding some very cold air that stripped the trees bare. The ground was beautiful yellow from the Larch needles just prior to the snows. This did not leave much time to tackle the 3 cords and alas only a half was stacked before the snow was deep. However that is why they make tarps . I wax philosophical and realize that truly the wood is going nowhere. I am mulling a wood shed for more ease of storage. I will consult with my second son who is a bonny lad with a lot of wood and building talent. I have also fenced off a kitchen garden for next spring and secured two large mounds of Creston Loam . It has been busy . It would be nice to be 8 feet tall in order to pound in 7 foot stakes.

So the snow came and so did the cold . We had some premature cold weather with lows at Zero , and the highs at 10 if we were lucky. This usually is more of a January thing. I finally contacted a chimney sweep and we tackled the cleaning of the flue and reseting the hearth pad. All accomplished and pleased to see dry soot to clean and not the sticky creosote that likes to play havoc with one's dwelling  . When I first started using my stove I was loathed to put pine in to burn . Alas that is all there is here . I was used to the safer hardwoods of the southeastern US. I feel better knowing the process is manageable and next year I plan to sweep my own chimney as I now have the technique . Another project will be to secure the equipment including a flexible pole and brush.

We have had 3 feet of snow total at the cozy cabin in the wood. Before you send care packages laden with snow shovels we have had a nice stretch of warm weather ( that translates into highs in the mid thirties) and most of the snow has melted. The deer have been very active around dusk with 5 trying to hunt me down during the drive home last night . I feel very grateful that they made it across the highway without crashing into me .

Thanksgiving came and went with more snow ( a foot ) and a visit from my favorite daughter and her very new and sweet husband. We went to the skating rink as they really wanted to skate. It was 10 degrees and a good stiff wind of more than 15 mph. I lasted about 10 minutes outside and had to hang out in the referees booth. That would make me a weinie .

The last two and a half months have been seriously busy . The change of seasons seems to bring a flurry of activity . Truly there are things that if not done before the snow flies will not get done before the next spring. Solstice is just around the corner now barely more than a week .  Then the return of the blessed sun. I can see why the sun has been worshipped in history particularly in the higher latitudes. I feel like i have weathered this decline into solstice fairly well this year . Another 8 days of shortening and then the Earth starts to lean towards the Sun with her grand desire . A good time to reflect during the long still nights all of our many blessings that have graced our lives. Take some time to admire the winter night sky with the stars that shine so brilliantly only in winter.