Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Colorado Low Brings Thunder and Lightning in February!!

The storm is here, snowing like mad outside, with a stiff east wind blowing snow in your face. I hope we get lots!

A day ago the storm was forecast as 5-10 cm. of snow; yesterday it was down to 2-4 cm of snow, mixed with freezing rain or rain; today the forecast says freezing rain followed by rain, but in fact it is snowing heavily. That's the variability of a Colorado low as it blows across the continent, depending on where the divide in temperatures is between below freezing and above.....................

Later ........... Well, it didn't amount to as much as I'd like, and then it did change to freezing rain for a short time, though not very much. Still, you can hear the ice crackling on the trees this morning. And there's a thin layer of ice in the middle of the 4-6" of new snow which crunches as you walk.

Driving home late last night we were suddenly startled by a loud bright explosion of light right in front of us, momentarily wondering what had just exploded. It turned out to be lightning, with rolling thunder and hail - in late February!! Lightning flashes, thunder and hail then accompanied us the rest of the way home.

And overnight we got more snow, this time heavy packing snow. So it's back to winter for now, even though rain is forecast tomorrow.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

A Beautiful Winter's Day - Finally!

There certainly haven't been too many of them this year, but after a fresh 6-8" in a blowing storm on Friday, Saturday the sun came out and we were on a long Bruce Trail snowshoe hike - a beautiful winter's day. Fresh snow was everywhere, sitting on every branch, draping the evergreens and making the snowshoes actually necessary - we traipsed heavily through 8-12 inches of snow, or even more where the snow had drifted off the fields.

An old gnarled ironwood draped with snow itself, in front of snow-covered evergreens.

Snow on every lower branch of a white pine along the trail in the pine plantation.

Down the rows of the 70 year old Norway spruce plantation, one of the oldest plantations in Grey County.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

MORE Signs of Spring!

One of my favourite signs of spring is the Red Osier Dogwood, whose stems turn a bright red at this time of year. It's one of the few shrubs that seems to know that spring is coming. This is part of a large patch in a wet low area, just down the road.

The other tree that knows spring is coming is the willow, which turns a brighter yellow. Even if it weren't for the longer days and warmer sun, the willows tell us the seasons are changing.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Signs of Spring!

Well, it still doesn't feel like winter ever actually got here for good, because the temperature keeps rising above freezing and we get rain, though it is white out, and we do have enough snow to feel somewhat like it's winter. But we're moving fast toward spring now, and today I saw two small flocks of redpolls - small sparrow-like birds with bright red caps and black chin bibs.

It turns out I saw these about the same time last year, and got these pictures. They're a migrating flock that's likely just passing through on their slow way north again - they breed in the boreal forest. At first I thought they were just the dull, winter-coloured goldfinch with which they were inter-mingled, but a closer look showed the red caps and sometimes a pinkish breast below the black bib. They were on the road, eating grit.

At the same time, the days are distinctly longer, with sunrise not long after 7 now, whereas it was after 8 briefly over Christmas. And at the end of the day, it's still light out past 6, while it was dark by 5 six weeks ago.

Monday, February 13, 2012

A Beautiful Winter's Day in the Valley

It's simply a beautiful winter's day in the valley. Unfortunately I have a cold, so I'm not going out snowshoeing or skiing, but I walked the dog this morning and you could actually feel the warmth of the sun. This afternoon it's melting the snow on the roads and driveway.

The days are longer too; it's light out at least a bit until 6 o'clock now, a big change in 6 weeks from Christmas.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Hayfield

A couple of weeks ago I walked the farm next door with the dog, on a beautiful sunny afternoon, when there was still more snow on the ground. It wasn't very deep, but enough to use snowshoes, and we had a great walk. The only challenge was clicking the shutter before the dog romped through the middle of the picture. Several other neighbours had been out walking too, leaving their tracks down the edge of the fields.

Through our neighbour's farm, where they are no longer cutting hay - notice the weeds in the field above - we climb through the fencerow and come to the next neighbour's farm, which is wide open hayfields, bounded by beautiful borders of big old maple trees.

The old trees always fascinate me, with their grey gnarly branches, huge canopies, and the promise of maple syrup if you wanted. We once made maple syrup ourselves, using big old maple trees on our lot in Guelph. I think big trees are just one of my favourite things to try and photograph.

Looking up into the branches always make we wish for a tree fort - once of my favourite places when I was young.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

It Didn't Last!

I don't believe it; one good day of winter weather, and then the temperature started up again. By Tuesday it was nearly 10 degrees and melting fast. Do you know what happens to a rural driveway that has been packed down hard for several weeks when the temperature rises?

It becomes an ice rink, that's what! And our driveway goes up a gentle hill. So there's now a long narrow track of sand and salt up the drive, and by driving with one wheel on the side, and one on the track, we can get out.

But the cross-country skiing is gone for now, and even the snowshoeing is hardly necessary; you can just walk across the hard crusted snow. And no new snow is forecast - what a weird winter.