One gardener's observations, discoveries and random thoughts whilst simultaneously worshipping and dallying in a Cape Cod garden. "A garden," said Ralph Waldo Emerson, "is like those pernicious machineries which catch a man's coatskirt or his hand, and draw in his arm, his leg and his whole body to irresistable destruction."

Archive for the ‘snow’ Category

Marching Forth (or Fifth)

We are all thinking Spring thoughts here on the Cape, and it seems to be working.

The sun sets a little later in the evening, there’s a cardinal singing merrily outside the window in the early morning sunshine, I heard red-winged blackbirds singing in the marsh the other night, there are  green bits of bulb foliage pushing their way out of the cold ground and I’ve got a sinus infection.   To my knowledge, those are the signs of Spring on Cape Cod.

This introspective little gargoyle was left behind for me by the previous tenants of the nest and he has since occupied a dim little corner of the place, scarcely noticed as he sat there thinking his thoughts.   But I’ve recently done some cleaning/re-arranging and decided it was time he enjoyed a little time in the sun.

I think I can see a glimmer of a grin on him in this first image above, so I think he’s kind of happy with the change.

You may remember this kitty here as my pal, Peanut.    I spent the last week of February expatriated to the wilds of Brewster for a week’s house-sitting, as I bunked in with my furry friends Peanut and Mugsy while their people were enjoy a week of fun and sun South of de Border.

Here’s Mugs relaxing in a nice warm patch of sunshine, which we are enjoying more of lately.  Often – as was the case while I was staying there – the outdoor temperatures haven’t quite matched the warm look of the sunshine, but the sun’s warming rays alone are enough to feed our souls and build our excitement about the coming change of seasons.

We’re not fooled, of course, and so we doubt that Winter is quite finished with us.   Spring here isn’t always – or even often – a sudden ray of sunshine from the sky that brings blooms to dot the landscape everywhere one looks.   Usually its a long transitional period with wildly varying up and down temps to confuse us about what jacket to wear, a little bit of snow here and there and plenty of wind and rain.   Which you’ll admit does sound like just a little more winter.  We can’t disagree.  The ocean that keeps us warmer longer in the autumn, does just the opposite in springtime.  Ah, well.

But a little snow can’t dampen our enthusiasm, nor Nature’s, and after another recent dash of snow and cold, followed by some sunshine for melting, the alert was sounded from Trout Towers that snowdrops and violets were dotting the landscape there.

The snowdrops are to be expected.  It’s their time on the stage, after all.   But wild violets don’t usually bloom until May, so I was a little concerned that we were going to be starting off our season with the sort of crazy early blooming that characterized so much of last spring.

Armed with my camera, I showed up to see what the deal was…and found a fun crop of last season’s violas, undeterred by wind chills and snow fall, blooming anew to get the season started.  What a treat!   Surely, by month’s end, we’ll have had at least one day nice enough to tempt me outside to do a little “pre-season” landscape maintenance, raking and such.

While it’s still just a little early to get things underway out there, it certainly is fun to have the earliest blooms to tempt us from our warm homes to have a look around and start to build our enthusiasm.   After all, now’s the time to be starting seeds indoors, for planting in summer gardens a couple of months down the road.

I was excited for the tip-off about the snowdrops, too, as I often miss them.   They are pretty much the first thing to bloom for the year (unless one has a witch hazel tree in the their yard) and I don’t always remember to look until they are passed.

If their subtle color pallette and frost locale isn’t your thing, of course, there’s always the Cut Flower section at Trader Joe’s, where you can find all kinds of more spectacular arrangements.

Now, this isn’t actually a sign of spring, except on my kitchen windowsill, but here’s my old amaryllis bulb, finally sprung to life and fixing to bloom.   Now that I’ve had this bulb for a couple of winters now, I realize that it comes to life about a month later than the previous year (in much the same way the moon rises about an hour later each day).   Not that it matters much; I’m still plenty excited for it’s red and white blooms.   But I’m wondering if I ought to plan on it being a summer bloom in a year or so!

In another part of the Nest,  near the living room’s southern windows, the morning glory seeds I planted before the house sit gig are growing nicely.   I’m not willing to count my blooms before they do so, but I’m excited at the very prospect of having some glories earlier in the season this year.  Fingers crossed!!

Meanwhile, in case one more sign was necessary, here’s a recent sunset picture, taken around 5:30 pm.    Now it’s staying light late enough to walk to the bay and back after work, when the wind chill isn’t discouraging.

So you’ll forgive the pun, but it does seem that Spring is on the March.


Moon Over February

I think there’s something a little magic about this image.

My intension was to show off the new solar powered string of lights our Alberta spruce is wearing these days.   And it seemed like it’d be cool to catch the rising, nearly full moon in the background, but I didn’t anticipate how much like the sun the moon would appear from the long exposure.    Pretty intense reminder that the  light of the moon is only sunlight reflected, eh?

I also like how light the sky was still that evening, since this pic was taken around 5:20 p.m.    Perhaps the best part of February (besides some heart-shaped confection or other…) is the fun of watching the sun set later and later, as our days stretch slowly toward midsummer’s golden evenings.   Which is helpful, since by the middle of February, winter can seem a dreary business, even if one has been wishing and hoping for snowstorms that never quite materialize.

I’m pretty amused, actually, that I’ve gone from being all rah rah about snowstorms to being just about ready for Spring’s warm breezes.  In fact, we’ve had a few momentary tastes of those already.  But then we’ve also had a dusting of snow, too.  Our friend the ocean gives us a little bit of everything, it seems.

But this year, not a lot of snow.   For that, it seemed I’d have to go elsewhere.   Back in December, I’d fled our family Christmas celebrations in Connecticut just a little ahead of schedule in order to get home before the arrival of a big snowstorm.   You may recall that was just the first in a series of such storms that came sweeping across the plains or up the coast with more snow for the northeast this winter.

It seemed every couple of days (although perhaps ’twas once a week) since then, I heard or read the reports of more snow falling there, more piling up.   Another couple of inches one day, another foot another.   It was just crazy the way its kept coming, and ironic that it should mount into snowfall totals to rival the most intense of the Adirondack winters Mom and Dad knew before moving to Connecticut.   Fortunately, they brought with them the experience of those winters, and also their snow rake, so as to remove some of those snow totals from the roof.

By the time I got there, there wasn’t much driveway left.   I was fortunate that there wasn’t any new snow to deal with for the weekend of my visit.   I was, however, met with a solid temperature of nine degrees, making it feel as though I’d made the trip all the way to the Adirondacks, instead of simply northwest Connecticut.

Here’s Mom and Dad’s kitty, Dewey, who’s always very happy to see me.   He and Badum send messages back and forth to one another by rubbing on my sneakers and luggage.   Here he’s a little disdainful that my desire to take his photo is greater than my desire to put more treats in his bowl.

It was cool to see all the snow, or what remained of it.   The white stuff was transforming from snow to snirt by then.   It compressed down a bit by the time I got there, but you could also see actual mountains of snow in public parking lots and such, where snow plow crews just kept piling it higher and higher.    Not a story unique to the region this winter, but still fun to check it out first hand.

Of course, seeing the snow was hardly the point of the weekend’s travel, only a bit of set dressing.   As a Christmas gift, Mom and Dad bought me, Sue and Joe (and themselves) tickets to a local production of RENT, which was going on that particular weekend at the Warner Theatre, the fantastically restored art deco theatre in their city.

It worked out nicely that it was Valentine’s weekend, since it’s always sort of a sweet occasion to get the five of us together, something – to our great pleasure – we’ve been able to do more often in the last few years.   So we had a great family dinner before the show and then coffee and dessert afterwards, and all of that seasoned with plenty of laughs and good times.

As always with these weekends, it went too quickly, and almost before I realized it, I was back on the Cape, where the bare ground and warmer temperatures made all that snow seem like some kind of fever dream.

As the days of February stretched longer, there were a few other signs of spring-ish-ness.    A couple of days when temps rose into the 30s and 40s.    If one looks closely, you can see tiny tips of crocuses and daffodils beginning to push their way up out of the ground.   In fact, I can tell you now that my next post will feature some snowdrops and a few other surprise blooms.

Here’s a particularly lovely sunrise we enjoyed out our living room window early one morning, and just one more shot of that sunny moon rising over the marsh.

Snowy Day

It started out just the way it always does.

There was the sudden appearance on the long range forecast of the big Snowflake icon…and shortly after that, a Winter Storm Watch was posted.     It was far too warm to snow, it seemed, though the temperature seemed to be teetering back and forth and every now and then, we’d look out the office windows and see that the rain was “thicker”.     And then there were wildly swirling snowflakes the size of our heads.

About that time someone heard the forecast about heavy bands of snow sweeping along the Connecticut coast in our direction with the possibility of four inches of heavy snow by 4 pm and a quiet murmur of panic sounded as the usual suspects began to fret about being able to get home safely.   As darkness fell – earlier under the storm’s cloak – and the Storm Watch upgraded to a Warning, our temperature began to climb.   It was heavy rain through which we made our ways home.

And rain that continued on into the evening, spattering the windows as the howling winds began to mount.   Even in the face of that, there was the possibility that we might…only might…wake up to a world of white.  In bed at a reasonable (for me, anyway) hour and snuggling for a bit with Mister Purrypants, I listened to the rain, loud on the windows, on the roof, on the side of the house, not unlike many nights here on Cape Cod, actually.

I did sleep – it’s actually a comforting sound when one’s accustomed to it, I find – but it wasn’t a quiet night and I was attuned enough to the sounds of the storm that I could tell when the temperature would drop and the rain on the windows would start to freeze and sound harder on impact, no longer quite a liquid.   And then it would change back again.   Then, somewhere around 5 or so, I woke to silence, the sounds of the world muffled…and I managed to raise myself up enough for a glimpse out the window, at a world of snow.

There wasn’t much of it, it seemed, but it was still snowing and it was early enough I could comfortably nestle myself back into the covers for a while more.   At least until the Catsby came bounding in, having discovered my momentary wakefulness and capitalizing on it for a bowl refill before I could settle in.

Very shortly, the precious silence was taken over with plow sounds on the nearby highway, in the courthouse parking lot…and then past the front of our place.   Pavement scraping.  Back-up beepers.   The radio chimed in low with the long list of school closings or delayed openings.  And then came the text that our own office opening was going to be delayed a few hours, owing to the slushy, icy snowy conditions out there.

Fortunately, nothing pre-empts The Catdude’s favorite shows and the birds were singing up a storm of their own as the snowstorm began to wind down.

There’s something about this shot below I’m especially fond of.  I think it’s the way our street remains only a tire track at the early hour this was taken and only barely visible through the trees.   I guess what I love about the snow is the way it changes how everything looks.   The dreary dull of this season is blanketed and everything is soft and undisturbed and unspoiled and new looking.

As seems to be the theme so far this year, we didn’t get much snow, certainly not as much as so many other places, most of which were already trying to figure out what to do with the snows from the last couple of storm.

And while it would’ve been sweet to have the whole day off from a bigger storm, I was content that there was time to take a few pictures, to cook a nice hot breakfast and have an extra cup of coffee before getting out there into the workday.  (After all, as Practical Gardener is keen to remind me, a day’s work is a day’s pay.)

This poor bush (is it a privet? I’ll look more closely later on.) was certainly done no service being planted under the eaves of our office building where it must bear this icy run-off, but it certainly was pretty covered in ice and glittering in the sun.

Naturally, once the storm had passed, our temperature dropped back down into the 20s,  but it was still a pretty day with some nice warm sunshine.  Two of us were brave enough to do our usual lunchtime walking, though slushy and potentially slippery conditions kept our lap count down a bit.

Here’s the view out my office window just before leaving to come home this evening.

With the snowy, ice-laden landscape reminding us that all of February still stretched out before us, it’s always cool to be able to see that our days are lengthening and before we know it, Spring will be here.