Monday, February 17, 2014

A Snowy Walk

It's a bright Sunday afternoon in February, with several inches of fresh powder on an already deep snow base. The temp is 22º, and a biting east wind is blowing as Tallulah and I set out for a stroll.

Fluffy down is drifting through the air from the cattails at the edge of the marsh:

We leave the road and head for the prairie restoration project. Once on the path, I find that the snow is much deeper than I thought; soon my boots are full of it.

At the edge of the prairie restoration project grow some of my favourite grasses, with fine golden seed heads above...

...and curling leaves below.

The trail continues snowy. Every step is hard work, and I mentally kick myself for not putting on wool socks (which stay warm even when wet). I remind myself that I'm getting good exercise. I tell myself that walking this slowly encourages me to live in the moment and notice things I might not otherwise notice - like this tree, the dry leaves of which are clicking like castanets in the wind:

Tallulah climbs up on one of the twigs, hoping to catch a glimpse of spring:

"Can you see it?" I ask.

"Not yet," she says.

A little farther on, we strike the snowmobile trail. What a relief to be walking on packed snow!

We pass a sign that causes my spelling hackles to rise...

...but keep going straight down the trail, which eventually leaves the prairie restoration project and heads out into the country.

We reach a favourite line of pines:

Then the trail turns right and dips through the edge of the woods:

Out the other side, as we turn off the trail proper, a snowmobile roars out of the woods behind us and zips around the corner.

We decide to head back towards town, following the track of a renegade snowmobiler who has crossed the field before us (ignoring all the signs adjuring snowmobiles to stay on the trail).

Tallulah decides to take a closer look at the track...

...and gets a face full of snow.

Nothing daunted, she looks down the track and exclaims, "This would be great for turtle luge!"

(Personally I think turtles are better suited to skeleton, but I keep this thought to myself.)

Portrait of a Snow Turtle:

We cross the field and arrive back at the path that circles the prairie restoration project. Here the snowdrifts are three feet deep (ask me how I know!):

We flounder through the drifts, then down the deep-snowed path, and eventually reach again the blessedly packed snowmobile trail, which we follow all the way back to town (being passed by several snowmobiles on the way).

A strenuous snowy walk on a beautiful winter's day.

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What did you do this weekend?

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Friday, February 14, 2014

Word of the Week: Coruscation

Happy Valentine's Day to you and yours, and welcome to...

This week's word is Coruscation.

Cor·us·ca·tion (ˌkȯr-ə-ˈskā-shən), noun
1. Glitter, sparkle.
2. A flash of wit.

Most recently seen or heard in:

Anne's House of Dreams, by L.M Montgomery.
"How the home lights shine out tonight through the dark!" said Anne. "That string of them over the harbor looks like a necklace. And what a coruscation there is up at the Glen!"
Why I like this word:

It's a sparkling word with softness at its heart. It makes me think of bubbles dancing atop champagne, or the magic of a clear winter's morning when the sun strikes jewelled glints from the snowy ground. Its synonyms are lovely, too: gleam and glitter, scintillation, sparkle, flash and flame; but "coruscation" has an added elegance, a queenliness of appearance and sound that sets it apart.

Coruscation is a slender damsel, fair of skin and sparkling of eye. She dresses in softly-shimmering white; diamonds twinkle like stars from her midnight-black hair. Though she looks like a heroine of romance, her voice is full of mirth and her conversation spiced with humour, varied by flashes of brilliance and insight. You never know what she'll say next; this quality of unexpectedness makes her a delightful companion. (Rather like many bloggers I know.)


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With whom would you rather lunch: a witty conversationalist, or a quiet type?

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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Thinking of Geese

Yesterday I drove my dad to his first Wisconsin doctor appointment. As we spun along between snowy fields, I looked up at the pale, empty winter sky, and began to think of geese. Geese returning at the end of a long winter, trailing spring behind them. Geese settling down for the night on the marshy lake-around-the-corner, their sleepy honks like an evening lullaby. Geese racing the south wind across a new-washed sky.

Suddenly I wanted, quite badly, to see some geese. I wanted to know that spring was near. How long before they would come? Weeks, probably. Geese need open water, and all the (outdoor) water in south-central Wisconsin has been frozen for some time now.


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Hours later, on our way home, I saw six birds flying over a field ahead. Six large birds. Birds with dark heads and white chinstraps.

"What are those birds, Dad? They look like ... they look like geese!"

"They do look like geese," Dad agreed.

What in the world were they doing there? I don't know, but I am taking it as a happy omen. Spring may be closer than we think.

P.S. These are not the birds I saw yesterday - this is a photo from 2012. But you get the general idea. :)

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Sunday, February 9, 2014

Catching Up

It's been a long, busy week, getting my dad moved into his new apartment. I'm behind on housework, behind on grocery shopping, behind on laundry, behind on blogging, behind on walking. I'm even behind on photos - today's pictures were taken last Sunday. (The only thing I took this Sunday was a breather. It felt great.)

The weather has been pretty consistent over the past week: below zero at night, daytime temps of 6°-15°, and several gentle snowfalls. If I had taken a walk today, it would have looked much like this.

Snowmobile tracks curved across the marshy lake-around-the corner:

Near the start of the trail, tiny grasses peeked out of the snow. I like their delicate little seeds:

The snow was deep, drifted, and deceptively crusted over. I never knew when I might break through the surface and be suddenly submerged:

A Favourite Tree leaned over the snowy fields, rubbing twiggy fingers together and dreaming of spring to come:

As always, there were plenty of fascinating dried flowers and grasses to be seen.


Coneflowers (I think), looking like brown pompoms:

Curly mystery grass:

Wavy-stemmed mystery grass:

And these alien-looking flowers:

Around a few corners, the trail curved back towards town. Somewhere under the snow was what I believe to be the entrance to a badger sett - though on this walk it was completely hidden:

Also nearly hidden in the photo is a snowmobiler who had just crossed the trail some way ahead:

Around another corner was a tree (possibly alder buckthorn?) still covered with dark berries:

Some websites suggest that buckthorn berries are a food of last resort for birds - which may explain why there were so many left on the tree.

The trail branched temptingly to the right, through grasses engoldened by the westering sun...

...but I turned left and headed for home.

Snowmobile tracks on the road evoked Art Deco architecture (to my eye, at least):

And that was last week's walk! Soon, I hope, things will settle down so I can get back to regular blogging.

How have you been?

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