Posts Tagged snow

Five Minutes of Magnificence

Sunrise color at 7:34 this morning.

The snow finally stopped falling last Monday afternoon – about 9 inches all told. This morning’s TV reporters chirped merrily about clear roads, and how all is returning to normal today. “But watch out for patches of black ice,” they cautioned.

A doe pauses near the creek at 7:37.

This is one of those times when I feel as if I live on a different planet. Our low temperature this morning bottomed out at 21 degrees Fahrenheit. Our long driveway remains buried in about 5 inches of snow, making walking to the garage an adventure. Snow has morphed into a solid block of ice; it will take Friday’s “warm” rains to eradicate it.

Clicking on the photo to enlarge it will reveal one doe in the water and another who has not yet begun crossing the creek.

But there are compensations for this icy inconvenience. Exhibit A: this morning’s sunrise. As if struggling against the cold, the sun only gradually warmed the sky, first painting it peach, then rose, and for a few brief seconds, deep red. Framed against a snow-covered landscape, the show was worth freezing on my back deck to snap photos as I listened to plaintive cries of yellow-bellied sapsuckers, rattling calls of kingfishers, melancholy songs of white-throated sparrows, and squeaky-toy chirps from brown-headed nuthatches high in the loblollies. Our overflowing creek chuckled softly — background to the bird bustle – then I spotted the does.

Looming behind the doe is the massive rootball of a tall sycamore felled by the floods of Hurricane Florence.

With obvious caution, they took their time placing each foot onto the cold-hardened snow, waiting for their weight to break through before moving the next foot. It was a slow trek across the ribbons of water criss-crossing the floodplain, now fire-painted by the rising sun. As each doe reached the edge of the creek, she paused, clearly reluctant to wade across a stream too wide to jump over. I could almost hear each one sigh as she delicately stepped into the rosy water, testing the creek bottom for solidity. Each left a ripple of fire water behind her as she waded in slow motion to the far side of the creek, then plodded on through the snowy wetland on the other side.

 

I am sure that local wildlife challenged by the snowy landscape would agree with me that life has not yet returned to “normal.” But while they perhaps didn’t appreciate it, I know I feel blessed to have witnessed this morning’s five minutes of magnificence.

By 7:39, sunrise color faded as the last ripples created by the doe’s crossing dissipated.

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A Farewell to Snow

Miserable cardinal

It started suddenly and at a faster rate than I’ve ever seen. Within an hour, several inches of the white stuff coated every surface. This confused cardinal is sitting on top of the bird bath attached to my deck railing. Poor guy.

snow hawk

All the birds seemed as surprised as the humans who got stuck in massive traffic jams in my state. This Red-Shouldered Hawk had been patrolling the floodplain and calling to his mate. For the longest time after the snow started mid-day last Wednesday, he just sat on that branch, as if he didn’t quite know what to do.

freezing rain icicles

 

By late afternoon, the snow changed over to sleet, then freezing rain, as evidenced by the small icicles dangling from the deck rail. This was fingernail-biting time. Would the icing stop before enough accumulated to pull down trees and power lines?

almost 1pm Thursday

My suet feeders have never been as popular as they were during the ice storm. It was every bird for itself out there.

feeding frenzy

 

Fortunately for us, the sleet/freezing rain stopped late in the afternoon before power outages were widespread in North Carolina. I gather that parts of Georgia and South Carolina were not as fortunate. My condolences to the powerless. The birds used the lull in the storm action to fuel up, as if they knew this was but Round Two of a three-part storm system.

after rain and before last snow

 

Thursday morning dawned dark and icy. Soon the last round of heavy snow would begin. We got six inches on Wednesday. We were warned that 3-4 more inches would collect on top of ice-covered surfaces. It hit hard and fast again.

final round of snow

 

Snowflakes instantly clung to every icy surface they encountered, making for a spectacular display.

snow clung to icy surfaces

 

Even ice-covered tree trunks used the snowfall to dress in their wintry best.

Friday sunshine

 

But the weather seers were wrong, thank goodness. We only got about another inch or so before the snow headed north. Friday morning brought sunshine and the beginning of melting. Branches were bare of ice and snow by later afternoon that day.

Despite temperatures in the low 60s during the day, you can still find piles of snow on the shady sides of roads and forming mountains in parking lots. My yard is a study in microenvironmental variability. The cold north-facing side that backs up to tall cedars is still covered in an unbroken blanket of white — thinner than it once was, but still slippery.

Warm rains and above-freezing nighttime temperatures should rid us of the last remnants soon. And just in time. All my vegetable and flower seeds have arrived in the mail. It’s past time to set up the greenhouse for spring sowings of greens and peppers, along with the flowers that take longer to grow to transplanting size. I’m off to plan and prioritize, eager to get seeds in potting soil.

But I must wait to prepare the beds in the vegetable area. They are still covered by lingering snow. I’ll share what varieties I’m trying this year in another post soon.

 

 

 

 

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