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Archive for the ‘winter’ Category

snowy-woodsSnow falls silently in the darkness, covering the ground, piling up on the bushes, coating our little Honda Civic in the driveway. In the morning it still falls, creating a fantasy world of white. On Facebook everyone posts pictures of their yards and streets. Children rush out to build snow people. I walk in our half-acre woods, camera clicking, trying to capture the beauty before it melts or blows from the trees. Snow covers the mud and dead plants of winter. It muffles the sounds of cars and trucks—those few brave enough to venture out onto the slippery roads. Peace flows through me as I drink in the fresh beauty.snowy-street

On the second day, no more snow falls. Skies clear, temperatures dip further below freezing. We walk on our quiet dead end road, enjoying the blue skies and the white fields and yards. I throw out extra sunflower seeds for the birds. My husband chops wood for the fire—at least we can keep our living room warm. Then we settle in to work, relax, and watch the squirrel in the feeder (as does our cat) and the birds fighting over seeds.

squirrel-at-feederThe third, fourth, fifth days… Cold, windy, white—we take our walks, but hurry back in to sit by the fire, watch some football, go online, maybe get some work done. The woodpile diminishes. Where the sun hits the roads, ice melts or gets torn up by tires, only to refreeze later in the day, more slippery than ever. Meetings are canceled. Church is canceled for the second week. My husband’s concert is canceled. The snow becomes dirty near the roads, marred by footprints in the yard. Wind blows it from the trees. Where is that pristine beauty we saw just days before?snow-on-fence

Beauty comes and goes. It flits into the everyday with glittering wings, inviting us to stop and marvel. When it stays too long, the magic is lost and it becomes ordinary—or even an annoyance. How sad—because each day has a little bit of splendor hiding within it. We may have to search, may have to keep our eyes open. It is much easier to see the ugliness and focus on the darkness. But these times of beauty give us hope and keep us moving on, even in dark times.

footprints-in-snow“…Whatever is pure, whatever is lovely…dwell on these things.” (Philippians 4:8 NASB)

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Springwater Trail, Boring, OregonInertia. Back in school I learned that inertia is the tendency of a body at rest to stay at rest and the tendency of a body in motion to stay in motion. Inertia explains why you are pushed back into your seat when the car or bus moves suddenly forward—and why the car won’t stop immediately when you hit the brakes. It’s a good principle to know.

Inertia applies in other ways, too. Like to my exercise program. During the Christmas holidays I didn’t get out running much. After the holidays ended, I caught a nasty bug that was going around and didn’t have the energy to exercise for two weeks. And then work got really busy, and I was spending too many hours on my rear in front of the computer. When a day finally came that I was able to get out and run, I really didn’t want to. I knew I needed to, but I did not want to. Inertia wanted to keep this body at rest.Sun through clouds

Once I pushed myself—with help from hubby—to get out and move, it wasn’t so bad. I did two miles and felt good about it.

 … At this point, I intended to turn inspirational and tell you all how I kept at my running program, and it just got better and better. Inertia keeping my body in motion and all that. Unfortunately, that did not happen. Work and bad weather kept me inside for a while longer. The next time I got out to run, I tried to do my usual three miles. It was a disaster. My legs tired quickly, and I think the pace of my walk breaks was faster than that of my running. The next day my legs ached, and my right knee kept giving out. I skipped a couple more days of running, and my next outing was not fun at all. Apparently inertia is not so easily overcome.

Maya, our black labIt takes a force to overcome inertia; the greater the mass, the greater the force required. Can that be why it’s easier to get our dog to move than me? Hmmm. Might be some other principles involved there, too. Still, it can be done. We ran on the Springwater Trail yesterday—just 2.5 miles, so as not to overdo it. Trees were beginning to leaf out, flower buds were swelling, signs of spring everywhere. Beauty can be a force, too, at least for me. It makes the effort to keep those legs moving worthwhile.opening leaves of Indian plum

How about you? Where in your life is inertia keeping you from moving? And what force will it take to break inertia’s hold?

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black-capped chickadee

black-capped chickadee

dark-eyed junco

dark-eyed junco

Steller's jay

Steller’s jay

varied thrush

varied thrush

It’s that time of year again: the Great Backyard Bird Count! I’ve been putting out extra goodies for the birds and faithfully counting–or trying to count–each feathered friend that drops by. It’s as much a challenge as ever to get an exact count of juncos that blend into the winter ground and chickadees that flit in and out, so that I can’t tell if the one at the feeder now is a new bird or the one I just counted. The big birds are easy–the jays, flickers, varied thrushes. But those little gray and brown guys–whew! And then there are the “missing in action”–the birds I know are around somewhere, but that won’t come by to be counted. The cute little bushtits haven’t dropped in yet. One downy woodpecker visited the suet feeder today, but the hairy woodpecker hasn’t been by. I only have robins because I took a walk and saw them down the street.

There’s still one more day left, so if you want to take part, throw out some birdseed and see who shows up. It really is great fun watching the birds interact as they gobble down the food–some of them are real characters. Give it a try! And here are some of the ones I saw today, filmed through the window, so please excuse the blurriness.

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snowy woodsThe first tiny flakes danced and twirled across the sky like dust blown by the East Wind. After awhile they began to settle into little drifts in sheltered areas where the wind couldn’t blow them about. By evening the wind died down, but the snow kept coming, covering the brown winter earth with a cool blanket.

snow on cedar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Morning light reflected off the whiteness, all fresh and new. I ventured out before work–glad that I work at home–to take pictures and enjoy the magic. It rarely lasts long around here. We threw out extra sunflower seeds for the birds (and nuts for the jays and squirrels), trying to find places where the seeds wouldn’t just sink into the soft snow. The flower boxes on our porch worked pretty well, once the little sparrow types noticed.junco in the flower box

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ice-covered twigs

Then came the ice. Sleet, then freezing rain, coating everything within its reach. The fluffy snow gained a crunchy coating. Every twig and bud became encased in crystal. And again the birds gathered–the shrieking Steller’s jays, varied thrushes, flocks of juncos and sparrows of various types, energetic chickadees, and, of course, the squabbling starlings. Two Anna’s hummingbirds chased each other in and out of the porch area, battling for control of the hummingbird feeder. It was quite a show!ice-covered azalea buds

 

Life goes on in the snow and the ice. And I watch as the fire in the woodstove merrily crackles and pops, and water for tea heats up in the kitchen.  Beauty comes with the cold, but I’m still glad that I’m not a bird.

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Springwater Trail, Boring, OR I did not want to go running this morning. Due to the holidays, weather, work, and a nasty virus that kept me indoors for quite some time, I had not been out on streets or trails for a month and a half. And it had become much easier to sit at the computer than move my feet. Still husband was urging me on, and I knew my body could use some exercise. So I plodded back to the bedroom, changed into my running clothes, and joined my ready-to-go hubby. We drove a short distance to Boring, Oregon. (Yes, there is a Boring, Oregon, and yes, it really is kind of boring… But it does have a Sister City: Dull, Scotland. Honest! You can look it up.) Anyway, we drove to a newly-paved section of the Springwater Trail in Boring. It was a good choice, a chance of scenery to get me started.Filbert catkins

Aspen trunksI wish I could say that I started down the trail excited to be running again and full of energy. No, I’m afraid my run was a slow, very slow jog, and the walk breaks were eagerly anticipated. Still, I did like being out in nature. The clouds billowed above me, and the sun managed to shine through at least part of the time. Yellow catkins dangled from the filbert trees along the path. The white bark of a crowd of aspens stood out against the browns of winter.

I think I annoyed my husband, who likes to keep his running rhythm going, by stopping to pull out my phone and take pictures along the way. But he’s learned to put up with it. I see beauty and I want to capture it. The photo is never as good as the real thing, of course. But it’s like a sign along the way, taking me back to the realness of the moment and helping me remember its fullness.Clouds, Springwater Trail

I made it almost three miles, not bad for my first time out in so long. It was almost fun. And perhaps the spell of inertia is broken, and I can get back into the routine. We shall see. At least I have my pictures to remind me.  🙂

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cumulonimbus clouds

 

 

The sky changes so rapidly this time of year. One minute it can be blue, swept clean of clouds; the next minute puffy white cumulus clouds start billowing up, turning gray underneath. Soon Cumulonimbus clouds take over the sky–magnificent, piled high in all their glory.cumulonimbus clouds

cumulonimbus clouds

cumulonimbus clouds

 

 

 

 

 

The clouds darken, threatening rain. And all I can do is watch in wonder. Like snowflakes, no two clouds are ever alike–or so I am convinced. And while the gray stratus and nimbus that bring rain may not excite me, the beauty of those towering cumulonimbus never ceases to fill me with awe.

So enjoy a few new cloud photographs. And look up at the sky to see what wonders you might find there.

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Steller's jay  This past weekend was the annual Great Backyard Bird Count. Whenever I could find the time, I stood by the window, looking out at the dogwood tree that holds a seed feeder, suet feeder, and bird bath. The GBBC asks participants to count the birds at their feeders–or in their backyards. Then you enter your count at their site, and it can be compared with thousands of others from around the world. The number to enter for each species is the greatest number you can see at one time. Sounds easy, right? Well, it is when it comes to the big birds–the jays, crows, woodpeckers, and those nasty starlings. The little birds are another story completely.Bushtit flock

First there are the chickadees. First, because they show up at the feeder before I can even get it hung up in the morning. However, chickadees are perpetual motion machines, never staying in one place for more than a few seconds. And we have two species of chickadees. Try to get an accurate count of those little guys as they whip in and out of the trees and feeders! The bushtits aren’t much easier, although they are awfully cute for plain, little gray birds.

BushtitThen there are the sparrows and related little birds. Juncos, finches, etc. All kind of brown, perhaps with some stripes. House sparrows, house finches, golden-crowned sparrows, white-crowned sparrows… A person could get dizzy trying to keep up. At least the towhees are easy to tell apart from the others. And the lone varied thrush that pecks quietly at the seeds on the ground.downy woodpecker and starling

And how about those birds that show up the day before the GBBC and then disappear, only to reappear the day after. The stinkers! And that single Eurasian collared dove that dropped in for the first time the day after. Why couldn’t it have come a day early? Is it really cheating if I add a couple of birds from the next day?? Then there’s that leucistic sparrow-type bird. If anyone can tell me what it is, please do. I am not quite certain.

leucistic sparrow-type birdTime to turn in my lists and add my tiny bit of data to the Great Backyard Bird Count. It is nice to be a part of such a great program–even if the birds don’t always cooperate.

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