A Recipe for Winter

Blend sun and snow. Toss in shadows. Stir lightly. Store below freezing. Enjoy.

New snow on oldSun and shadowWinter blues

 

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The Shape of Snow

Snow forms, falls, fills our world with white.

But odd things can happen after it arrives. Warming, chilling, melting. More cold. Now unusual patterns appear in the leftover snow.

Snow designs

Snow fingers

Snow critters

After the latest warm spell when temperatures hovered either side of freezing these “leftovers” disappeared.

But fresh snow is back. For two days it has fallen steadily, nearly a foot now — if conditions are right the trees may once host a gallery of abstract art.

Fan-dango

Fandango:
1. a lively Spanish dance for two people, typically accompanied by castanets or tambourine; or,

2. a foolish or useless act or thing.

It started with a thump on the living room window. I knew the sound. Not good. Something had flown into the glass.

I grabbed the camera and went to look. I didn’t see anything at first, then suddenly a male grouse rounded the corner of the deck. He was in full display — his gorgeous blue-black ruff puffed up around his head, his eye combs bright red and his tail feathers fanned out like a peacock. A great idea in the summer when you’re hoping to attract a female’s eye. But in November? In. The. Snow?

He strutted across the deck and onto the ground beneath the window.

Male ruffed grouse

It must have been a female who hit the window. Perhaps to escape his unwanted attention. That’s when I saw the first feathers. I assumed she’s survived the impact as he kept moving along, his eye firmly on his target.

Male ruffed grouse

I caught sight of her for a brief moment, then she disappeared around the corner of the house. He followed …

Male ruffed grouse

… trailing her to the front of the house.

Male and female ruffed grouse

About then one of the four females sitting in the saskatoon bush flew low over their heads and into a spruce tree. The male, seeing fresh opportunity, forgot about the first female and went to check out the new prospect. Seeing her chance the first female departed the scene.

The new bird kept to her branch. She was not interested. He stayed below, Romeo to her Juliet.

Male and female ruffed grouse

As for the injured female? I saw her later beyond the end of the garden. I’m not sure how seriously she was hurt. Later I checked where she had struck the glass and found dozens of feathers.

Female ruffed grouse

Reflections confuse the birds. Although we’ve done what we can to bird-proof our windows, two female grouse died this summer when they flew into them. Thinking they have an escape route they hit hard glass instead.

Hopefully this one will survive.


Ruffed grouse   Bonasa umbellus

Cows & Conifers

Puts cows and spruce trees together for any length of time and this is what you get — trunks pruned of branches and bark rubbed smooth.

In pastures with few trees the damage is even greater for it’s here the cattle gather when sun beats down, when rain and hail pelt them, when snow falls thick and fast.

The earth also suffers as their hooves churn the soil to dust or mud holes or frozen lumps, depending on the season. Little can grow under such a pounding.

All part of the price of hamburger and steaks.