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Hickory Dickory Dock~

First day of a new year!

 I stared out the window at the icicles that clung to the screen, trailed down the deck’s railings and lengthened underneath the grill.  The winds had smoothed out the snow. And I could see little birds jumping in-between the branches of the Blue Spruce on the south side of the deck.

 Uriah was outside. I watched as he slowly trudged through the snow and picked a spot, out in the open in the sunshine, to sit down.  He looked out over the yard, and then looked over his shoulder at me. He was happy to be outside.  The sky above him was a beautiful deep blue with puffy white clouds. The ice shimmered like clear diamonds, enhanced from the blinding white sunlight, as it reflected off the snow. 

I finished my coffee and headed for my coat and boots.

Once outside I pulled my scarf up around my face. There wasn’t a wind, but frostbite was a reality in these low temperatures. Uriah danced around my legs until I handed him his morning biscuit. I waited as he crunched it to pieces. Then he nosed around in the snow until he found every last morsel.

Being Uriah he tried for two biscuits. I shook my head at him.  He didn’t seem disappointed; instead he turned and waded through the snow towards the back path.

The snow was powdery and painfully white.

Uriah stopped, and looked back at me; he was hesitant to step near the path. He must have remembered the cold water running under the ice.

 I moved cautiously forward and pushed my ski pole down into the snow. It hit frozen ground. Confident I wouldn’t end up with wet feet, I moved on.

 Ice crystals were growing upwards along every piece of dried grass and twig sticking up from the snow.

As I got closer, I could see unfrozen dark water. Little puffs of snow perched on top stray blades of grass, which sat above and over the water. The sight was spectacular! The area was covered with multiple bouquets of white snow flowers. The highest stood only two inches tall.

 Uriah took a couple of tentative steps forward, and found his own way around the freezing water. Instead of walking straight ahead, he had turned and walked into the trees and scramble over branches.  

By walking on piles of dried grass, I was able to make my way to the southern fence line. From there I picked my way around the water, hoping to avoid getting my shoes wet.  

I noticed that I was not the only one who walked this way.  I spotted the tracks of a coyote, rabbit, and squirrel. 

 I stopped and laughed! Pheasant tracks!  They were heading to the east. The same direction I was going!  As the ground slopped upward, I followed them up and away from the water.  As the path moved slightly south, I found the tracks under the trees.

That bird had followed the fence line.  He walked halfway down the path, and then his tracks turned to the south. Where he moved into the open field and headed towards the denser tree line.

I kept walking. I waded through the powdery snow.  I passed up some smaller tracks.  They looked like the rat tracks that were near Uriah’s kennel.

There were some prints I couldn’t identity.  The snow was soft and the footprints had caved in.  This animal walked with his feet apart. He left a trail, similar to train tracks.

Once I reached the end of the path I rounded the back and passed by the farmer’s air field. Headed north and took a left turn and then faced west. There the Bog Willows stayed to my right. This took me in the direction that headed back home.

 I walked under a bush, and noticed smaller tracks, possibly rat tracks. Or, maybe not! This guy had circled around and around underneath the bushes. More than likely it was gathering its breakfast. A few feet on the other side of the bush I came across a coyote’s tracks.  He was circling the bush from the outside. I assumed, he too, was gathering his breakfast.

Uriah appeared from the tree line and looked at me. I waved at him.  He turned and went back to his games.

 At that point I noticed some small, nearly dotty tracks on top of the snow.  I stepped forward and stepped into a snowdrift. This animal had to be very tiny, or he would have sunk in the snow. I stood still and picked out its trail. Then I stepped back where I could follow its path without standing in deep snow.

This animal had circled every piece of grass and wildflower it passed, and it left behind a tiny dusty trail underneath each plant.  Its tracks moved perpendicular along the path I was on.  I thought this was great!  I was heading home.  I could follow it without wasting time. I would even walk a little slower and keep an eye on its tracks.

Then the little tracks disappeared under a Bog Willow…

That was when I made a mistake!

 I walked forward to see where the animal tracks had gone to.  When I did that, I brushed against the top of a sagging Bog Willow.  It was capped with heavy snow, as was everything else in sight.

As the snow showered down on my head I heard a squeak! I saw a mouse stick his head out of its nest of milkweed seeds. That nest was built in the center of the tangled branches, on the top of that Bog Willow, which was about five feet off the ground.

I should stop here and tell you. I don’t like mice! I am the idiot that will dance on the couch, bed or table when one of the little buggers appears. On with the story…

Now, all this was happening at face level!

Uriah caught a whiff of fear and came running! He danced around my feet when he saw the mouse!  

The mouse saw the dog! Then looked at me… Its mini brain worked overtime during those seconds when it tried to figure out, who it feared the least… That was the one it would leap at!  

The Bog Willow branch snapped upward!

I squealed!

Uriah barked! 

And the mouse squeaked and landed on my arm!

I was in a Disney movie….!

My fear was that mouse would crawl down my coat!

I stopped hopping and held my hand out to Uriah to sit. I kept thinking, “Stay calm and relaxed.”   

Riight!

I reached out and put my hand on the Bog Willow.  I made a very shaky bridge, which I hoped that the mouse would use.

He did!

Once he was off my arm, I was out of there!

 Uriah continued to hop up and down. Run in circles and sniff at the snow under the Bog Willow.

I headed over the flooded path, and broke though the ice. A wet left foot wasn’t going to slow me down!

Uriah, finally decided to follow, but refused to come inside the house.  I left him outside to guard against an invasion of mice…

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This image comes from the Project Gutenberg archives. This is an image that has come from a book or document for which the American copyright has expired and this image is in the public domain in the United States and possibly other countries.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Hickety_Dickety_Dock_1_-_WW_Denslow_-_Project_Gutenberg_etext_18546.jpg

File:Hickety Dickety Dock 1 – WW Denslow – Project Gutenberg etext 18546.jpg

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…

Chanukah

 

Happy Chanukah

To all my Jewish Friends!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Picture from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Chanukia.jpg

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