Can you believe it's February already? Winter began right on schedule and we haven't seen bare ground since the snow began to fall. It's been a very cold winter here, but maybe not as humid because I don't seem to be feeling it as much as I normally do.
We've had some good sized snow storms and a couple of ice storms, as well. With the cold temperatures, the ice stayed on the trees for quite some time, keeping many of the branches at critical breaking stage.
This week, it has warmed some. The icicles are gone and some of the snow has melted.
The groundhog predicted another six weeks of winter. I expect an early spring. I've noticed some of the branches around here are looking a little reddish, and this weekend I spotted a weeping willow tree that was looking very yellow. A sure sign that the trees know that something is up!
Another indicator is the picture above. We have a very fat mama squirrel preparing a nest. This will be the fourth generation since I began observing this family of squirrels. With such an early start, I wouldn't be surprised if we enjoy a second nesting in the autumn.
(You can click on the pictures to see them larger.)
This is one of the babies we watched last autumn. Still that cute little turned up nose! I'm constantly grateful that we saved some of the tree during last year's cutting of the tree. It may look unsightly, but it gives me endless hours of pleasure to watch these cute little critters.
A first time visitor to my garden. A Red-Shouldered Hawk. We have seen Red-Tailed Hawks, Merlins, Sharp-Shinned, and Cooper's Hawks, but never a Red-Shouldered in the yard. They really don't belong here at this time of year, but there it was, big as life!
Another even more surprising visitor - HOLY SMOKES! Is that really a Great Blue Heron down in the gorge behind my house? Yes, it really was. Not the best picture in the world, but I'll take it! If you could see the terrain behind my house, you would be amazed that this bird was down there. It was snowing that day, so the picture is a little "murky". The bird slid down a hill, balancing itself with its beautiful large wings, and then waded in the brook, coming close to my house, and eventually, it flew off, with a whoosh of its wings. I don't think there are fish in the brook, but I remember the kids next door catching crawfish there.
We actually had another "first" this week, too. I have waited since 1997 to see a deer in my yard. Finally, yesterday, I saw tracks and scat, so we did have a visitor. Leave it to me to miss the deer, but catch the poop! ;-)
Last weekend, I decided to try and walk on one of my favorite trails. As luck would have it, cross-country skiers had opened a nice path to walk on. The light was beautiful, casting some great shadows on the forest floor.
On a recent drive on a road nearby, I passed by a farm and of course had to stop for my favorite scene. :-)
On a drive one day, we passed by some icy cliffs and decided to stop and take some pictures. As luck would have it, there were a couple of ice climbers there. They didn't mind me taking pictures, so I snapped away. You may have to click on the picture to see the man climbing the ice.
A typical winter scene while on the road - no, I wasn't driving, but you never know with me. I've been known to put the camera on the steering wheel. ;-)
Sunset by the lake near my house
A little friend watching me
Dawn outside my window
Shadows on the snow
I hope all of you are well. I am healthy, but a little burned out, so I'm just doing what needs to be done and taking one day at a time.
Take care and I'll see you when I can.
Big hugs to all of you.