The part of our community where beauty (the state park) meets the beast (industry). That big fluffy smoke has reared its head here through all four seasons since I was a child and probably many years prior to that. It makes for some interesting texture in a photo, especially on a very brisk winter’s day–but it is the uglier side of the city, visible from the north pier off the bay of Lake Erie. One doesn’t stand on the pier for too long in the winter, unless one is a glutton for frostbite. A few quick photos, and its back to the vehicle. In summer, this pier is filled with fishermen and fisherwomen, and this part of the bay has quite a bit of boat traffic. It is one of my favorite areas to run in the other three seasons, ending with a neat little lighthouse at the end.
Looking out from my studio window this weekend, life seemed frozen in time. Crisp, cold. The kind of weather that freezes your nostrils, dares you to breathe while outdoors.
I can say this much: if nothing else, weather like this demands you slow down. There’s something to be said for this. Personally, I said “nap”. And my body agreed, sighing with the realization these opportunities, these mandated work stoppages, don’t come often in adulthood.
When given the opportunity, when the question is posed, “What’s to do on a bitter, cold January day?”, I have an answer. Stop. Take a moment to stop and smell the snowflakes. And then get your behind in side!
Happy Tuesday, all.
I must confess, I am recycling some of the photos I have taken in the last few years, those left on the digital cutting room floor. I’m giving them a second glance, partly because life is a little hectic right now and I’ve had little time to go out and shoot for the fun of it–plus, it is buck-a$$ cold. So tonight, I sit in front of a blazing fire, playing with photos I missed the first time around while my greyhound sleeps next to me and my other furbaby…well, she is tearing up a paper towel on the floor beneath us for reasons known only to her….
There are times I look out the kitchen window and see four or five of these large fox squirrels. I go through quite a bit of sunflower seed and, I assure you, fur and feathered customers rival one another in amounts of seeds consumed. Doesn’t matter to me. Squirrels have to eat, too–and then there are the crows, feeding first thing in the morning on the cup of peanuts I throw out for them (yes, I feed them on purpose) by the pond. A family of four (was three last year)–one acts as a sentinel while the other three take turns scoring the peanuts. If I haven’t put peanuts out by daybreak, they are cawing my name at the top of their lungs until they shame me into providing breakfast.
Its a squirrelly place, this life in the country. But I totally love it.
Winter made her entrance this week, not so much like a lion in these parts, more like a lamb (or a cardinal, depending on your perspective). I always find myself eagerly anticipating the first snows of winter, a signal that a nature-imposed slow down of the world around us is afoot. It is as if we are given the opportunity in these parts to just stop and rest. There are no lawns to cut, no weeds to kill, no paint to scrape. Our commutes take a little longer and we leave for and return from our jobs in the dark.
I resisted the winters when I was a younger woman. There was no place in my world for slowness or peace. I lived a harried and chaotic life by choice. Now I find myself looking forward to the shorter days, the blanketed lawn, the fire in my fireplace, and a warm cup of tea. I have learned to enjoy some parts of winter and accept it–for the most part–as part of my fabric, one of my seasons. I know it will pass into longer, lighter days filled with warmth and flowers and much more color. But for now I have learned not just to be content on most days, but to actually embrace the opportunity to slow down.
I hope you all have a great weekend.
On the shores of Lake Erie’s bay sit a small grouping of cottages, two rows deep, inhabited in warmer months by those with a fondness for all things Lake Erie. Like many of us who live abreast the shores of a great lake, we wind down the late fall, preparing our homes and hearts for the slower, colder pace of our winter. Winter is not optional here. There’s no getting around it, no “mild winters” ahead for this area. Lake effect snow and wind chills are a fact of life, part of every native’s vocabulary in these parts.
No complaints here. I do tire of winter come April–but now, in this latter part of autumn, I embrace stacking wood (my chore of the day), lighting a fire, watching the trees glow with the brightened feathers of our cardinals feeding on sunflower seed treats. I love the smell of the pine-scented candle and welcome the stringing of holiday lights upon my white picket fence (chore #2 of the day). Curtains pulled early, stew steaming on the stove, cats and dogs curled up for the evening, I am ready. I am hunkered down.
Last winter, my stepdaughter, who is as blind as I am (and that’s bad) peered out from the kitchen window and said, “Hey, isn’t that one of those big woodpeckers?” Sure enough, there he was, tapping away for his dinner in the middle of my forest. The telltale holes on the tree mark this as a frequent dining spot for our friend, the pileated woodpecker.
I have a variety of woodpeckers and their kin visiting my bird feeders daily–downy peckers, hairy peckers, and red-bellied peckers. Peckers, peckers, everywhere! None are so majestic, though, as this king of all the peckers. His fiery red head is visible even to my lovely child with her 20/400 vision–although it is possible she heard the loud machine-gun-like wrapping before she actually spotted him.
Bugs are much more plentiful in warmer weather and, with the towering trees cloaked in their greenest, leafiest outfits for summer, the chances of spotting one of these beauties is limited. But, as food supplies lessen and the leaves take their annual swan dives to the forest floor, I’ll be sitting on my deck. Wrapped in a blanket. Zoom lens in hand.
I’ll be waiting. That’s right. Waiting. For my pecker.
Perusing through my winter photos, I came upon this snapshot. I took this one winter’s morning at a time I’d normally have been at work. Lo and behold, I discovered why I was going through so many 50 pound bags of sunflower seed. Nary a songbird in sight, I am apparently feeding all the local wildlife. As the weeks wore on, five additional tom turkeys joined this group on a morning and evening feed. We enjoyed them for many weeks until such a time as spring came upon us and mating became more important than food.
The squirrels, for better or worse, are daily visitors–no matter what the season!
I’m still slumping. Not feeling up to photographing anything in particular, and finding that writing is difficult. The words seem stuck at the end of my fingertips. I know they are there, but they have been escaping me.
Reading Anita Jesse’s blog, Through My Lens (http://ajesse.blogspot.com/), I was reminded that I had many a photograph sitting on my external drives I hadn’t ever touched. Perhaps I would find something there, something that spoke to me. In the first catalog I opened, I found this winter photo. A snapshot of my beloved barn on a cold winter’s day, taken through the comfort of my kitchen window. Normally a huge lover of warm summer days, I found myself drawn to this photo, a photo which I have several different copies of, made on several different days over the course of winter. A scene I apparently never completely tire of.
It strikes me that my home is much like a cocoon for me. Wrapped in warmth and safety, I am here, comfortable even on the bleakest of days. My view from any window is pleasurable because I am okay here. Always okay here. Like a fortress.
There’s more to this story, I’m sure. More to say. I know there is. But my fingers, they are muting again. So for the moment, I’ll be glad to have had the photo put in front of me. I needed to take a look at the view and be reminded of its comfort.
I have a job where I frequently meet my work week hours (40) by late Wednesday. Normally, I continue working. Yesterday, I’d had enough. So I left.
The state park near our home is one of my very most favorite places to go. There is so much more than beaches–hiking trails, places to kayak, and the most wonderful sunsets imaginable. It receives an estimated four million visitors each year, most of those during its peak summer season. In spite of that, if you know where to look, there is always a spot in the warmer months where one can find solitude and peace here. The remaining cooler and cold months are reserved for those of us who are not bothered by things like snow pack and ice dunes–birders, hikers, naturalists, and those who seek real solitude.
Yesterday, solitude was aplenty at the park. An air often scented with the smell of hot coals and coconut sunning oil, and beaches normally running amock with small children and bathing beauties was in stark contrast on this abnormally warm late winter day. There were no reservations required.