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What A Difference A Day Makes~Merry Christmas!

This morning when I stepped outside I was able to walk around to the dog kennel.  The ice had disappeared off the driveway and the deck.  It was in the mid-thirties. The air was oddly warm, and had a feel of spring, even though snow still covers the yard. The puffy clouds above me cleared and blue sky shown through.

I am going out to relatives for Christmas dinner and I wanted to post before I left. Here is a piece I wrote, December 17, 2009, I had written two other Blog entries that day, and I thought three was just too much.  So I posted it today.  Enjoy!

 I walked out the garage door, and pulled it closed behind me. The wet snow earlier in the week had warped the door frame, now with everything frozen the door was pulling back when I opened or closed it. Why is it, that when I can’t work outside, due to the weather. Something breaks, or as in this case the door frame, the side by the near the hinges, decides to disintegrate…

The sky above me is bright blue and clear. The air is dangerously cold!  I was surprised to see a dozen, or so small flighty birds hopping from tree to tree and singing.

Slipping my knit hat off my head I stopped to listen. I could hear birds chirping, singing and complaining.  Looking around I found even more of them in the trees next to the barn and shed.  They flittered between the dead evergreen next to the shed and the gravel in front of the barn. Then onto the leafless mulberry trees on the West side of the barn.

Small round birds, I believe they are, Dark-Eyed Juncos, soft grey feathers on their heads and back.  That grey reaches along the top of their tail feathers, then changes to white slipping to their underbelly and chest. They looked like they sat in a can of white paint. Right now they were complaining loudly and flying from one tree to the next.  How dare I interrupt their fun!

I heard a single call of a Blue Jay in the trees, then silence.  

Off around the back yard, looking south, past the outside dog kennel.   I could see a red blur jumping in-between the miniature crab apple trees. Male Cardinals, searching out dried seeds from the taller dried grasses that leaned against the trees.

Slipping on my hat, I whistled for Uriah. Slowly and nosily, we made our way across the frozen snow to the back path.

 I stopped at the mid-way point, the Northern tree line.  To stare up into the blue, blue sky in-between the branches of a fifty foot tree. The sky was a solid dark blue, almost an Electric Indigo.  The deepest part of that color sat on the tips of that leafless tree, and then weakened into a lighter blue as I moved off center.  Looking towards the south-east, the sun was a brilliant white, fading the sky into a powder blue.

Today, I was using two ski poles to maneuver through the snow.  Walking carefully, I made my way towards home. The snow, where I had walked days before, had frozen over into an uneven ice rink.

Uriah’s long black nails on the frozen snow, made a sound similar to him walking on a wooden floor. His toes were spread out over the ice, and he gripped with those hard nails.   He stayed by me for a moment, and then ran under the old apples trees chasing something only he could see. 

 I purposely cut out a new pattern in the snow, avoiding the dangerous path. I set my heels down first so I could break the top of the snow and keep my balance. Otherwise, stepping down carefully wouldn’t allow me to break through the top layer of ice, and I nearly lost my footing.

I began to notice the sound. My first step with my heel, was like an ‘AHHR- then, to complete the step, the rest of my foot rolled into the snow, with a, ‘RRRRR,’ sound.

Ahhhrrr-rrrrrr …

Add in the sound of the ski poles. Starting out with a stabbing crunching, then ending with a  ‘Brrrrr,’ sound, as I tilted the pole moving into the next step.

Walking along, I was paying so much attention to the sounds I was making, that they became over powering. I stopped and removed my hat so I could hear something other than my noisy intrusion into such a quiet, sunny day, 

I couldn’t hear one bird on the path, nothing! Silence! I probably scared them deeper into the tree line.   

Walking back towards the house and dragging my noise with me.  When I heard the sound of the train in town, I stopped to listen, “Thump- thump- thump!”  Without the winds the train sounded muffled and very far away. Like a thick growl, vibrating along the ground….

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Hey, Mr. Postman Drive My Mail To The Door~

The deck has been making popping sounds all night. With temperatures dropping fast, the water that was absorbed by the deck boards was expanding. The deeper the ground freezes. The colder the air feels. And the more the deck pops. I keep picturing nails shooting out.

I nearly forgot to check the mail today. I put on a heavy flannel shirt with my stylish orange coat, my black waterproof old boots. Wrapped a scarf around my neck, and stuck a grey knit hat on my head and pulled on my over sized brown gloves…

I have to stop here, because my younger male cat, walked off with one of the gloves and I had to sweet-talk him to get it back. I was a bit overheated by the time I grabbed my ski pole walking stick, and called to Uriah to follow me down the driveway.

 Just outside the garage doors, Uriah stopped, lifted his face to the winds, and promptly turned around and asked to go back into the garage. I bribed him with a few, six to be exact, Liver Snaps.

 Closer to the house, on the left side of the driveway as you face west, is a very tall Blue Spruce. It blocks the wind and cold beautifully As soon as I passed that tree I readjusted my scarf and gave Uriah another biscuit.

 The sun was shining brightly and the air was freezing.

Uriah decided if he had to follow me he would stay behind me the entire time.  This way I was blocking the wind.

“Uriah, you can’t be cold.” I scolded him; he grinned and listened for the word treat, or biscuit.

I showed him my gloved hands were void of treats.  “You don’t need any more. You have too much body fat!”

Uriah must have taken offense at that, because he sneezed and wandered over to the fence line and urinated. He waddled back, but never looked at me.

 I made him stop and sit before we got all the way to the road.

The thirty feet before the driveway ended, the blacktop ended. The next twenty feet was dirt and gravel. Tire ruts were filled in with smooth solid ice and banked with craggy ice patches. 

The last ten feet slopped upwards. I trudged up that slight incline at the end of the driveway.  Then stopped and tried to plan out my path.  Those few feet to the mailbox were littered with large chunks of shining, grayish white, ice.  Slick and jagged!  If I wasn’t careful I would fall.

I waited for three cars to past, before I moved up and left, towards the mailbox.

The mailbox door was open. That’s not unusual, trucks speed along this road. Add in winds and I’m surprised they don’t rip out the entire box, post and all.  So far this winter, knock on wood, my mail hasn’t gotten blown out onto the road.

  I checked inside the box, nothing!  I slowly moved back towards my waiting dog.

“Hey! Uriah, do you know how to figure out a formula for Relative Velocity?”  I grabbed his muzzle with both gloved hands and rubbed his face as I continued talking. “Take a truck, a mailbox, and add in wind speed …”

Uriah looked at me, lowered his head to the ground and started to jump around alike a puppy.

“Okay, I get it! You want to go back home!”  I headed towards the house as Uriah happily trotted directly in front of me.

On the way back, I noticed a large softball size piece of ice sitting on the side of the driveway. Stupidly, not realizing it was frozen to the ground. I kicked it trying to get it off the blacktop.  I made a mental note never to do that again. My boots helped to protect my toes. Uriah looked like he was laughing at me…