Posts Tagged 'winter'

Gearing up for spring

There’s snow on the ground, more forecast for later tonight. But… we have cut pussy willow branches in water, sitting on the kitchen counter (lovely fuzzy pussy “paws”)… and the Gardener says the forced bulbs should come up soonish. I’m looking at recipes for fastnachts and Jeck cookies. And there has been a little bit of prep for Valentine’s Day.

Once the sleet melts, maybe I’ll have a look outside again. But I’m uninterested in searching for anconites under the snow while sleet is still pelting down.

snow drops for hint of spring
The snowdrops aren’t here yet, but the yellow aconite is underneath sleet right now.

How about you? Are you in the mood for spring, or are you enjoying every second of winter sports and freezing ice in interesting shapes?

Reading: The Skeleton Road by Val McDermid

Some books jump to the front of the queue, even when you have perfectly fine reading material home from the library. Val McDermid’s “The Skeleton Road” jumped to the front, in front of the latest Laurie R. King book, and in front of two other books that are due back at the library tomorrow. And it stayed in the front, and was read and reread in 4 days.

Brief sum up: satisfying mystery, with some comic characters, but painted with a very broad brush by the mixed-up sadness of war torn lands. Not sure this is a book I want to see on television, because some things are best left to the imagination. Probably I’m alone there. 🙂

I’m  glad not to have seen the blurbs about the book, since they would have colored my reading experience. I plowed into Prologue and first chapter from the start, and found it hard to go back to work after lunch break. Good cold-weather reading, when you don’t want to go out into the howling wind and shovel the snow.



Caroling, caroling

‘Tis the season, even if the weather argues that it’s almost time for Spring Break.

We’re having a heatwave (it’s likely to hit 70 degrees F [24 degrees C] on Christmas Day, so it’s time to find clothing that suits the weather while also suiting the season.  At least I like the color red, so I have a festive light blouse to wear caroling, as well as a cotton Christmas sweater. Not sure if people outside the States have these (sort of legendary these days, with whole sites dedicated to showing the worst examples). I kind of like mine, and I’m pleased that it is warm enough for me to wear it.

To get in the spirit, I’ve been listening to music from Natalie Cole’s Holly and Ivy album. Here’s one that relates to the title of this post (link here). And I’ve also decided to stop baking cookies — it’s too hot in the kitchen. One set of cookies and fruitcake is enough…

So, are you looking forward to a brown, rainy Christmas like those of us on the east coast? Or are you already buried in snow? Or planning a sunny beachside celebration while roasting things on the barbeque?

And, Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year!

Reading: Owls in winter — from Mary Priestley’s A Book of Birds

While cold and sharp and shining sheer Orion’s dagger pricks my ear, Under an old fir’s grizzled cowl,

Big with his drowsy wide surprise

Wakens the hunched and pawky owl

And blinks his big moon-marvellous eyes…

Excerpt from the lovely poem “Too-Hoo” by James Mackereth. A Book of Birds is filled with notes about bird behavior, snippets of poems, extracts from people’s diaries, and lovely wood engravings by C.F. Tunnicliffe. Some of the diary entries quoted, about hunting, or eating pickled auks, aren’t my cup of tea. But the poetry is charming, the illustrations are lovely, and my copy has a little penciled note for my Uncle from his little sister “A very happy birthday — lots of love…” The perfect thing to read while anticipating spring, especially now that the robins have come back to the backyard, and we can hear small birds in the bramble bushes.

Boston is having epic amounts of snow

… and in comparison, it isn’t all that bad here… at the corner of Church and Graveyard. We don’t have Boston’s epic snow. Our weather is dropping down towards 12 degrees F, and the wind outside is enthusiastically blowing the trees near the house (if I close my eyes, it sounds like the ocean when there’s a large storm offshore). Our house is pretty cold, but I’ve got an appointment with a down comforter, hot mint tea, and Mary Priestley’s A Book of Birds.

Luckily I’m not shoveling out from Winter Storm Marcus. So, we’re chatting about the weather. I’ve seen online pictures of daffodils coming up in England, I’ve heard that New England is ghastly… so what’s the weather like near you? Any welcome signs of spring? Or, if you’re in the southern hemisphere, do you have welcome signs of cooler weather arriving?

It’s the 2nd of February – time for men in fancy dress to go wake up a rodent

Which means it’s: Groundhog’s day.

Info about the observance can be found here. I remember this was a big deal when I was growing up, before the movie Groundhog Day came out. However, I’m not sure if it was “big” to people outside of Pennsylvania back then. In other places of the world, it’s Candlemass, Rosenmontag (parts of Germany), or Shrove Monday. Everyone needs a reason to celebrate this time of year. For me, it’s men in Victorian suits (or sometimes just bankers suits and long black coats), wearing stovepipe hats … who go wake up a groundhog to see if he “sees” his shadow.

A bit like the inside of a spun sugar Easter egg

Well, snowpocalypse only lightly dusted us — an inch of normal snow, with what looks like sanding sugar dumped on top. The corner of Church and Graveyard has bits of green grass sticking out of the snow, and our garden shed has never looked better.

Judging from weather reports, family up in Boston and Cape Cod have woken up to the blizzard on their doorstep. I suspect if the storm had been a wee bit slower, we would have seen more, and for once they plowed and treated the road behind the house.

I’m ignoring the whole matter tonight, and have just read in the BBC news that the Smithsonian might move an outpost to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. What do people in the UK think about it? What US science or cultural items would be welcome there?

Paths still go through silent woods


… underneath the snow, waiting for the cold to end, waiting for the thaw.

Pausing on a day with frost nipping at my nose

…to note that a local bookshop cafe’ has rosemary hot chocolate. It’s lovely, and was great to find on a raw November day when I had nipped in from my car to pick up a sandwich.

I do wonder how they made it — rosemary simple syrup? Rosemary infused milk and then add the chocolate like in this recipe? Apparently the M Restaurant in Philadelphia makes rosemary hot chocolate, and searching by G**gle provides you with cafes in Portland Oregon that also have it on the menu. For those of you who don’t like hot chocolate, or who live in an environment where hot food isn’t welcome (Bermuda? Aruba? Australia in December?), here’s a recipe for rosemary chocolate ganache with orange.

A wintry depression is in town

crocusesStill gusty outside. There’s still snow. But we had daffodils starting in the sun trap, right before the last blast of snow. I picked one so it could bloom in the kitchen. I know there are crocuses under the snow, because I took a picture of them in full bloom on Saturday, when we had a nice day. This evening, even though it was cold outside there was enough light for a quick walk outside with the Gardener, before things got too cold. We’re trying not to let the winter become too depressing. It’s still March, after all, and its often weird with icky weather.

At least I’m not in Cape Cod. Or further north. Right now, it’s just cold with warmer, rainy weather scheduled for the weekend.