Snow Covered Mountains and Furniture

Winter is that discouraging time of the year when the house uses more fuel than the car.
– Doug Larson –

The first word that pops into my mind when I think Winter? Snow! The second word? Cold! Then chocolate and nap, not because they are winter words, but because it is New Years Day and both sound like a good idea right now…

Winter Snow Photos:

We were in the Canadian Rockies in early December. This is the unretouched photo of an overcast, cold, snowy day. Talk about Shades of Grey!

This is the same photo, but it has a watercolor filter applied – still shades of grey, but sharper! When viewed in higher resolution, it really does look like a watercolor painting.

This is what the Adirondack Tête-a-Tête Chair looked like (a few winters ago) in a thick blanket of snow. It would be quite soft and comfy to sit in, I suppose, but terribly cold!

Here is the same photo, but with a spatter filter. Doesn’t it look like Jack Frost painted this scene?

Winter brings with it an array of recreational opportunities, such as cross country skiing, skating, or, my favourite, video rental.
– Mike O’Brien (Calling the Prairies Home) –

Winter White Means Snow and Ice

All of us have moments in our lives that test our courage. Taking children into a house with a white carpet is one of them.
– Erma Bombeck –

A carpet of white snow is slowly blanketing our part of the world. No one minds if children trod upon it, build snowmen with it, or slide down it. Children don’t seem to think winter is nearly as long as their parents do!

Across the street from the Red House, the Hay Bales got their first dusting of white a few weeks ago. The bales are looking more and more like frosted shredded wheat!

Our recent heavy frost briefly left a coat of white ice crystals on every surface. This tree stump looks like it has sprouted white feathers!

Cascade Mountain sports the first snow of the winter. It won’t be long before there is enough snow in the mountains for the ski season to start!

Rain Drops and Snowflakes – Wonder

I Wonder about many things.

twigI wonder how many raindrops it takes to fill a puddle?

winterI wonder how many snowflakes can fit on a stalk of grass seed? I wonder, is it even possible to count snowflakes?

I think I could fill an entire blog with ‘Wonder’ quotes! Here are a few of the best:

After you’ve heard two different eyewitness accounts of the same automobile accident, you begin to wonder about the validity of history. How do we know, for sure, what ever happened anywhere?
– Bits & Pieces Vol D #5 –

I wonder how much deeper the ocean would be without sponges.
– Variance on a quote by Stephen Wright –

People can be divided into three groups – those who make things happen, those who watch things happen and those who wonder what happened.
– John W. Newbern –

Capturing a Frosty Morning in Alberta

Frosty days and ice-still nights,
Fir trees trimmed with tiny lights,
– Jo Geis, Christmas Long Ago –

As elves go, Jack Frost is one of my favourites. He arrives without warning, but never stays too long. His artistry is magnificent, but fleeting – so I never tire of his work. He doesn’t play favourites – everything within his reach gets equal treatment. But best of all, he works at night, so that when I throw back the curtains in the morning I am greeted with a fairy wonderland. I truly feel sorry for all you people who live somewhere beyond the reach of Jack Frost!

You remember my story called A Grassy Path From Here to There?  That Path has matured now, giving  Jack Frost countless stalks to coat with crystal beads.

And the Allium Seed Heads that I showed you in Going to Seed? Coated with frost from top to bottom!

macro photographyJack’s true artistry can’t be appreciated unless I show you that each and every crystal is a masterpiece!

Now, don’t you wish you lived up here in the land where Winter is knocking at the door!  The land with only four months on the calendar: June, July, August and Winter!

Clean Windows and a View of my Part of the World

I was born by Caesarean section, but you can’t really tell… except that when I leave my house, I always go out the window.
– Stephen Wright –

I don’t mind cleaning the windows. It’s a big job – the Red House has lots of them. But it is one of those jobs that, when done infrequently, is so satisfying because it is such a radical change.

Washing windows isn’t a high tech job at my house. All it takes is a bottle of window cleaner, a wash rag, a dry rag, a step stool, and a very long ladder. I start in the morning and sporadically during the day I clean whichever windows are in the shade.

I do the outsides of the windows first. They won’t be perfectly clean, because there will be marks on the insides too. Another day I will do the insides of the windows. They still won’t be perfectly clean then either, because there will now be marks on the outsides. But that’s okay. My goal for windows isn’t perfectly clean, just cleaner than they were before.

Perfectly clean windows inside AND out might be attainable in other parts of the world, but here, where the prairies and foothills and mountains meet in a turbulent world of wind and thunder storms, the pursuit of perfectly clean windows would be foolish.

I picked this week to wash windows, because in the morning there were clear blue skies – not a cloud in sight. It stayed that way for the two days I spent washing windows, brushing cobwebs off the exterior walls, hosing down the deck and lawn chairs, and watering the parched flower pots. Within minutes of finishing these jobs, a bank of black clouds moved in, blotting out much of the blue sky. The wind picked up, dust started to swirl, but the rain held off.

The next morning the clouds had intensified, and a light drizzle refreshed the sunrise. The weather forecast was cloudy with showers for the next few days. Washing windows – my way of doing a Rain Dance!

There will be a rain dance Friday night, weather permitting.
– George Carlin –

Timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance.
– Cowboy Proverb –

August in Alberta – It Seems Early for Frost

The Frost Chart for Canada is an interesting read. It makes you feel hugely optimistic about the length of the growing season if you live in Vancouver British Columbia. If you live in Thompson Manitoba, however, you might feel inclined not to plant a vegetable garden at all. Not much will ripen in 61 frost free growing days.

Here at The Red House in Alberta, the chart suggests our first light fall frost will occur in mid September. According to my calendar, we are just a few days past mid August. It was with some disbelief, then, that I realized this morning  there was a light coat of frost in the very lowest lying areas of our back yard.

In what can only be described as Mother Nature playing a joke on the weeds that grow in the lawn, the hardest hit by the frost were the two peskiest weeds! This is a Thistle encased in a thin coat of ice.

This is a Dandelion seed head just as the ice crystals started to thaw. Have you ever seen such a sad and bedraggled thing in your life?

The ability of dandelions to tell the time is somewhat exaggerated, owing to the fact that there is always one seed that refuses to be blown off; the time usually turns out to be 37 o’clock.
– Miles Kington –

I can’t find a single interesting quote about Frost. Lots about Robert Frost, but none about plain old frost. Better pickings, though,  when I looked for quotes about Ice:

I tried sniffing Coke once, but the ice cubes got stuck in my nose.
– Author Unknown –

Hail Alley in Alberta – We Get Hit Again

Now and then simple country raindrops are tempted by a dark cloud full of icy sirens to stay aloft for a while. A party gets going, and when every drop has drunk too much and has grown bloated and chilled to the bone, the cloud simply bursts at the seams.

The result is Hail, and here in Hail Alley it is a guaranteed event at least a couple times each summer. Last week we were pelted with the largest hail stones we have ever had here at the Red House. While most of the stones were the size of marbles, many had grown to about the size of a quarter.

quarter sizeThe Car Guy and I watched the stones batter the house, vehicles, and plants. When the deluge stopped, I ventured out with my camera to record the damage.

The Virginia Creeper on the front patio was badly beaten.

The vegetable garden won’t be a buffet for the deer anymore!

On the bright side, the clouds beyond the hay field were pretty awesome!

The trouble with weather forecasting is that it’s right too often for us to ignore it and wrong too often for us to rely on it.
– Patrick Young –