Tuesday, January 5, 2016

a week of winter

A week ago, the weather finally shifted into Winter.

Billions of tiny ice pellets fell from the sky, met a surface of unseasonable mud, and formed a layer of frozen slush with a smooth crust strong enough to support my weight. In fact, it supports the weight of even the heaviest goats and is very slippery. All the goats are having trouble getting around, as am I.

Then there was a light snowfall.

And another.

This made the ice look like a soft and harmless dusting of snow, but in fact it made the ice even more slippery.

Despite the metal cleats attached to my huge insulated muck boots, this surface can take me down. I have fallen flat at least three times, and "caught" myself several more times.

do you think falling is worse than doing that awful jolt-and-flail in an effort to keep from falling? I'm not sure; I think it may be easier on the body to Just Fall. But it's painfully reflexive, that adrenaline-flavored effort to stay on one's feet. I never seem to have a nanosecond to choose whether to relax or fight gravity.

Piper has the right idea about how not to fall:

remain airborne as much as possible.


It's been gloomy and grey quite a lot this week. And very, suddenly, bitterly cold. Time to start feeding the wild birds! Before putting the "squirrel-proof" feeder back up, I scattered handfuls of seed on the ice and was thrilled when a flutter of little birds appeared only minutes later. Here are some (pretty terrible) pictures, taken through hazy grey air in the late afternoon:

(I am not expecting a call from the Cornell Ornithology Lab
asking to use these images. Heh.)

Saturday brought a welcome change: the sky was blue and the sun was bright. Saturday is the day my town dump is open, so I loaded my bag of Still Making An Effort at Cleaning the House rubbish onto the hayboggan and slid it - wheeee! - down the driveway to where the Little Green Sportswagon is parked at the bottom. And there I found a little gem of ferny glory, lit through with morning sunlight:

Such a relief for eyes weary of gloom!

When I did the evening chores tonight, it was 9F (-13C). After feeding and watering everyone, I sat in the barn for a while, wrapped from head to knees in my ancient down coat but still feeling the cold of the barn wall gradually reaching my shoulders like one of my icepacks. In the dark, I listened to the sound of Dara pulling hay from the manger on my left and chew-chew-chewing away. I just love that sound. Then I had stereo, when one of the kids (I think it was Tansy, but I couldn't see her in the dark) started nibbling hay on the other side of the barn. Through the open doors I could see the lights on the tree, reflected from window to window on the porch. Like this:

This makes me so happy.
It may become a new tradition for me:
not just a Christmas Tree, but a Winter Tree.

Makes sense, really, since the association of a decorated, lighted tree with Christmas is very recent - Queen Victoria, was it? - while the bringing indoors of greenery and light in Winter is old. Maybe as old as the human need for hope and cheer in a cold, dark season.

Right this moment, for example, it's after 3 AM.
I've been awake since midnight with a few aches and pains.
Not complaining; it's just the way it is.
But this is my view from bed:

So magical.
Better than narcotics.

Good night :)


  1. Oh, I so agree. A winter tree is just right. Anything to ward off the gloom. I am a cold weather wimp so I feel for you. That's too cold for me. Do take care of yourself. You could definitely throw something out of joint with the flailing so take it nice and slow wherever you go. :) Your sweet little bird photos are lovely. Best wishes, Tammy

  2. Your sitting in a dark barn must be very comforting for the goats. Piper has the right attitude. lol

    As for falling, martial arts teaches how to fall, even from a full standing position. There are videos and information on the Internet how to fall. Knowing how, and keeping it in mind in slippery situations helps. I think sometimes its better to relax and roll than to try a self correct. From what I've experienced, trying to stay upright can hurt muscles as badly as falling.

  3. I was actually excited to see a bit of snow. But I had forgotten what cold was like. I agree that falling would probably be easier on the body than catching yourself, if only instinct didn't kick in. lol Stay safe!

  4. While trying to catch oneself can pull muscles and is terrible painful because the more you hurt the tighter they get making for a horrible cycle. I don't like the idea of a broken hip or anything else for that matter either. You gotta do what you gotta do, just say a prayer before going out and be as careful as possible. Do you keep a phone on you when you go out?

  5. Your attitude to life is better than narcotics to this reader! I think four legged friends are best off, really, and wonder if, since nobody is watching but the goats and Piper, if a hands and knees pushing stuff idea might work for you? I've gone upstairs that way at times! or leash up Piper and have her pull the water buckets, etc for you??? nah, that might not work.

  6. I am SO glad to see someone else has their tree up, still...a Winter Tree - LOVE the idea. Everyone I know seems hellbent on getting them down on January 1st - I can't do it, ever! Beautiful photos, my friend...even the little birds that you don't think are so swell, really are. And Piper - always so beautiful! I'm sorry you're getting the ice - that was the worst about the storms when we lived in MO. While you guys were unseasonably warm during Christmas, we got a smattering of the cold - not as cold as you by any means, but cold for Vegas standards. Happy 2016! XOXO

  7. I don't mind winter cold, but absolutely HATE ice! I understand your reluctance to walk outdoors. I tend to think wrenching a back muscle is worse than a bruised bum, but either way you can seriously hurt yourself. Maybe extra padding? Snowpants? Cut up rubber tires lashed around your hips & bum? Maybe a rope tied securely that you can hang onto and just drag stuff around on a sled. A goat sled! Love the photos of the little birds. Little birds have my respect with the way they can stay warm with such little meat and few feathers on them. I like the idea of a winter tree. I always take mine down Jan 1 as I don't have a lot of space for it and I get a little claustrophobic with the cramped quarters. My pinecone garlands and wreath are still up in the kitchen though.

  8. I think it's better to "just fall", and my PT agrees. I caused one of my worst spine flareups by "saving myself" from a fall. In contrast, I fly off my bike fairly regularly, and I know how to land so I'm fine. Just fall, if you can stop that reflexive saving yourself.

    I don't know what kind of traction devices you use on your boots. We used to use yaktraks until we discovered "microspikes", which attach to your boots in a similar way as yaktraks but work a lot better!

    I saw your comment over on my blog. I have a colleague who studies sleep, and he uses the term "sleep hygiene" all the time. I thought the same as you at first! I don't follow all his rules but I have a very set routine, and that helps immensely. Plus, my docs have me take fairly strong meds for my spine at night (before that, I spent many nights pacing the house trying to make the pain go away). Anyway, a set sleep schedule has done wonders for me...

    Love the bright birds!

  9. I agree that there is something magical about such a tree, especially the ones that are all white. Sort of like a fairy land. Not so magical though when you're lying flat on the ground wondering how you got there (and even better - how on earth you're going to get up again). Be careful!

  10. What a beautiful picture of your tree from the outside. That might make me want to stay in the barn all the time :). I'm not sure if it's easier on the body to just fall ... either way you're likely to end up with aches and pains. I hope the ground improves and doesn't stay like that all winter for you!!

  11. IMO, doesn't much matter how I fall, it still just plain hurts. I've considered taking some sort of martial arts class just to learn how to fall. Recently, I've begun taking half an Aleve PM to aid sleep when pain overwhelms; at first, I tried taking 2 but slept for 11 hours so have downsized. Why not leave your tree/lights up for as long as it gives you pleasure? My little nightlight is a small "stained glass" lamp with a 4 walk bulb and gives enormous pleasure when I wake in the night and see it. Quinn, I'm all about small pleasures because they add such comfort and joy to my life.
    Happy New Year, take care of you.


Thank you for leaving a comment! I enjoy reading each one, and will usually reply either here or on YOUR blog!

Due to spam, Anonymous comments are blocked. I'm hoping to avoid the annoying Word Verification gizmo! If you find you cannot leave a comment, please email me so we can try to sort it out.