Saturday, January 12, 2013

A Cold January Day

Yesterday morning, when I went out to feed the birds, it was snowing with big white flakes. It didn't amount to much, just a little dusting on the frost covered ground. It's been very cold at night and not much warmer during the day, but today the sun is shining, which warms things up just enough to melt the snow. 

I would love to stay snuggled up in bed, but the birds depend on me and I feel too guilty lying under my warm quilts while they search for water and food. The bird bath has been frozen solid and I must take hot water out with me and melt the ice so they can have a drink. 

But they reward me with their happy, chirpy presence. 

So I brave the icy cold every morning, warmed by a steaming cup of coffee, while the dogs and I make our rounds. This is a daily routine and the dogs look forward to our little morning walk. I used to walk to the top of the driveway to get the newspaper, but we have some angry neighbor dogs who greet us with nasty snarls on the other side of the gate. My ever protective and loyal companions, Whitey and Champ, do not like them and they fight between the wire. Not a pleasant way to start the day. (And yes, I have complained once or twice, but to no  avail.)
So I wait for my morning paper until The Mr. comes through the gate in the evening, picking it up along his way. 

Winter is a somber affair here in the foothills, full of mist and rain and occasional freezes. We live in a temperate rain forest, and the weather doesn't get too severe, although nature is fickle and can turn on you when you least expect it, so we keep a steady supply of candles and supplies for those times when she throws a temper tantrum and knocks out our electricity. So far this winter has been relatively calm with only a couple of wind storms of 50 mph winds and some light snow. We lost a very large double headed Hemlock tree during one of those storms,  and it's now lying sideways across our woodlands going up the driveway, creating a sad view of a once magnificent tree. The Mr. is busy and can't attend to it now, but I hate when he uses the chainsaw anyway, so I think I might hire someone to cut it up soon.

Everything is twiggy and bare, but the evergreens stand out deeply green and I actually think this time of year is the most beautiful of all. With the leaves fallen and the underbrush died down, hidden places once again come into view, giving an entirely new perspective of the surrounding forest. It is quiet and still with only faint twitters and rustlings, unlike the cacophony of spring. 

I can hear myself think. 

But when the wind blows, the rushing is like a freight train, or a surging rapids, rising and falling in great waves of sound as it catches in the limbs of the stoically majestic evergreens in the surrounding forest and hills.

My dog, Whitey is terrified of this and I must soothe him and keep him next to me as he pants and his eyes roll around in his head. He usually sleeps in the kitchen with Champ on their soft comfy beds, but on windy nights he clings to me and I arrange him beside me on the floor by my bed. 

Both of my dogs were rescued and I have no idea of their history and can only guess, but I know for sure it was a traumatizing start to their brief little lives and we are endlessly patient and kind.

As I come inside I can see my hummingbird friend roosting on top of the near empty feeder. I have at least two of these that have stayed for the winter, and not because I feed them, as I only just started after seeing them hover over red berries in my pots on the railings, searching for nectar. Last year I noticed one coming around and thought it odd, but have since found out that this variety, 'Anna' stays year round. They are larger than the tiny Rufous hummers we have in the summer, and will perch in the tree branches chirping in between sips and chasing off intruders. Last night I forgot to take the feeders in to keep them from freezing and woke up in the middle of the night, remembering. Of course I went outside in the frigid night air and retrieved them, which kept me from staying in bed this morning because I had to put them back out. 

I can see him from my glass doors, as you can see the reflected light of the lamps that I keep burning on these dark winter days. This tiny winged being, so dependent on me. I think that they sleep inside one of the birdhouses my son built and hung in the trees, abandoned this time of year. 

But inside I am guiltily cozy, with a fire always burning and my workbasket full. 

This morning the sun is shining brightly and Mt. Rainier is in view after being hidden by clouds for days upon end. 

The cats spend their days sleeping in comfort, refusing to go out for more than a quick dip into the cold mountain air. Yesterday I let them out onto the deck with me as I refilled the hummingbird feeder and up above us a flock of vultures soared searching for food. I don't see them often and at first I only saw one and thought it was a Golden Eagle- so large was it's wingspan- as it dipped low right before me scanning the ground. But soon it was joined by another and another and then I looked straight up and saw several more and knew what they were, circling around. It sent chills down my spine, but they quickly moved on which greatly relieved me, as their presence sometimes signals cougar activity. 

The bright winter sun, so low in the sky, has encouraged my houseplants to bloom. My bright pink Kalanchoe, a gift from my daughter exactly one year ago to celebrate my being chosen to write for the newspaper. 
But my last column was published on New Year's Eve and now I am free of obligation once more, except to myself and the ones that I love, and the little birds that depend on me. 

Now I have time to fill up my workbasket once more and put to good use these cold winter days that keep me inside. 

I am sewing together a gift for my home, a soft comfy pillow fashioned from bits of laces and vintage crochet.
Feathering my own cozy nest.  

How are you passing the time on these short winter days and long winter nights? 

Do you have a favorite past time? 



  1. Your winter morning routine sounds decadent. So nice. And that kitty cat sure has the good life! Lovely.

  2. Such a beautiful view of the mountain! I love the way your start your day each morning tending to the birds. Have a wonderful weekend, Karen.

  3. Dearest Karen,
    Such a soothing story about your life style with lots of WARMTH & Tender CARE! How sweet for getting out of your cozy bed for taking Hummy's feeder inside and again for putting it out timely for their breakfast time. YES, those feathered friends very much depend on us!
    What an ugly thing for having those mean dogs awaiting your soft character canines. Too bad that you can't enjoy with them that trip down the driveway. Oh, those felines they very well know how to stay cozy and warm; we could learn a lot from them! But better than becoming a vulture lunch or supper... God forbid.
    Oh, my favorite past time for winter evenings are many. When it is really cold there is nothing cozier than having the fireplace burning (even with gas logs...) and watching a nice video from our collection. But strange enough, we have been rather busy and not finding much time off for doing so. Pieter loves to read on his Nook, in bed around 9:00-9:30 PM and I do my blogger visits, checking my FB and reaching out. Loved to embroider on my cross stitch too or making filet crocheted lace... Not enough hours in the days for living it all out!
    Stay cozy in your lovely home. You do have central air conditioning too I hope for staying warm in the bathroom and such. But a fireplace adds to feeling warm and cozy; no matter how you heat your home.

  4. Beautiful post, I love to hear how you start the day and your concern for the birds who visit you..The humming bird is a delight to is the cosy sleeping cat.. Thank you for sharing wonderful photographs of your lovely home... Hugs May x x

  5. Is that a chickadee in that first picture or a sparrow? I think it's wonderful that you have those birdfeeders. I love birds and used to be quite an avid bird watcher as a youngster. Also, I love that stove! How cozy!

    1. Hi Keith, that would be a chickadee peering at us! Thanks for stopping by for a visit! xx

  6. So sweet of you to take care of the birds like that! I take care of my chickens in the mornings after I let them out of the coop, and I enjoy starting my day that way. It has been rainy here the past few days, so my husband and I have been catching up on tv and just piddling around the house. We had stuff to do outside, but the rain forces us to stay in!

  7. Hi, Karen, What a wonderful fireplace! It must be great to be there while it's snowing outside. Our winter in Andalucia is like your fall more or less.



  8. Looks like you were colder than we were. Friday evening was very cold and my daughter said she knows it's cold outside when the speed limit signs on the interstate have frost on them. Good thing she made it home safely both nights. I pulled in a few planters to our garage since it's been so cold. We got the Christmas tree down yesterday and the lights off the rhododendron. Just need to get a few more Christmas items away. One thing I want to do is knit a pr of fingerless gloves for myself....merino wool! Hugs and stay warm....cuz baby, it's cold outside!

  9. Okay... To me all of that snow is beautiful. I would be the fruity chick running around (and rolling around) in it pretty much because I can't begin to fathom it. It looks and feels like summer here in Fla.

    As always, the photos are stunning. I'm smitten with your little birds. :) I like that they decided to stick around.

  10. you pack a lot into your posts! :) the big pine trees are beautiful! don't have any here on our place. and you have hummingbirds that stayed! you must have a pretty mild winter climate. very cool!

    thank you for finding my place and leaving a comment! really appreciate it! blessings to you! hope the winds don't blow too hard! :)

  11. Hi Karen, you take such lovely care of the birds and your pets. Your house looks comfy and cozy inside. I, too, love sitting by the fireplace with my hubby on a cold day, make a nice winter soup, bake. That vintage pillow looks so pretty, do show us when it's all done! xx

  12. Again a nice post Karen! I said it before, you live in a wonderful area. It must be great to go walking and biking in those mountains. And I guess it must feel great to come home after that.

    Keep us posted! ;-)

    Greetings from The Netherlands!
    (the flat country ;-)

  13. How wonderful to have a hummingbird, and in the winter. They are like mythological characters to us - although I knew them growing up in Oregon and we have seen them a few times on visits since.

    I love the stencilled wood box! Enjoy your winter days and creativity. x

  14. I'm still having trouble getting out of bed so early in the morning (now that I don't have a "real" job)! I love winter and burrowing into the covers - then waking to the chilly air (and lingering in bed a little longer).

    I've been spending my days unpacking....almost there. I can't wait to finish so that I can start really writing again.

    Thanks for keeping me company in 2012 - looking forward to spending time with you again in 2013. <3

  15. You have such a sweet heart...I can tell you love your animals so much. What a cozy little place you snow here...I do long for one. xoxoxo

  16. I love feeding my birds. They don't seem to fly so far away when I take seed out to refill the feeders like they used too.
    Sure wish we had Anna's that stay but it looks strange seeing yours in such weather.

  17. Great text, because it is authentic.
    It is a text that makes up the words in such a way that they obtain their own independent lives.
    Will show it to my students.

    I wish you a nice day.

    Yannis Politopoulos

  18. I love that bright green moss!

  19. It all looks and sounds like the perfect way to spend your Winter days, Karen! I spend most of my time indoors next to the fire, but zip out to get more firewood or take a short walk.
    Loved getting to see more of your beautiful home and surroundings!

  20. You are a dear to be so kind to the birds. If you ever need help using up your old buttons, let me know!

  21. A nice post Karen,your house looks comfy and cozy inside.
    Hugs Vicky

  22. Great and interesting post. I like it.
    I also invite you to my blog. ;)
    Yours. Have a nice day.
    You can also find me on the fanpage and keep track of my work: ;]

  23. What a peaceful and relaxing post...I love your writing style.

    I'm still waiting for a snow day that has those big fluffy white flakes....they look like they fall in slow motion...and it just makes me happy to sit and watch it fall.

    Thanks for sharing.
    Your new follower
    Creative Carmelina

  24. Oh those mean old dogs. The hummingbird would make a great paper cutout. Your "nest" seems so nice and cozy - and with a fabulous mountain to look at.


Thank you for stopping by! Your comments are important to me and are very much appreciated. xx Karen

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