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Archive for the ‘Natural Phenomena’ Category

snowy apparition

In the early morning light, seemingly white glowing forms consult with one another on the front lawn.  Are they extra-terrestrial beings, come to gather information about life here around Flandrum Hill?  Or are they displaced apparitions, caught between dimensions due to an anomaly in the space-time continuum?

snow remnants

Upon closer inspection, their true nature is revealed.  Who would have thought the remains of snow could have appeared so other-worldly?

remains of snow

While most of the snow from last week’s snowstorm has melted, the remnants of a large snow tower built on the front lawn have survived.   Warm temperatures weren’t enough to melt such a large heap of snow, especially one placed in the  shadow of the house for most of the day.  Up close, the snow reveals debris acquired both from the lawn when large snowballs were rolled to create it, and from a windstorm days later.

debris in snow

Haunting silhouettes formed in the negative spaces make these ruins more interesting in their decaying form than they ever were as a tower of snow.

negative silhouette in snow

Once the sun rises on Sunday, the ruins will be covered with a fresh layer of snow along with the rest of the lawn.  They’ll no longer stand out in the landscape.  One of snow’s most magical qualities is that it is so ephemeral.  Except of course when you’re shoveling it!

Text and photographs copyright Amy-Lynn Bell 2013

 

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tree shadows on snow

Even in Canada where winter is so much a part of our lives, it seems like we seldom have anything good to say about our cold climate.  Everyone was complaining of record-breaking cold this week, the harshest in recent memory.  Even the squirrel in the yard seemed to be jumping farther and faster than usual in an attempt to spend as little time as possible out on the snow.

red squirrel jumping across snow

Surprisingly, there are actually some benefits to living in a cold climate.  Our air is fresh, and long cold spells prevent too many insects from surviving through to the next summer, benefits we usually don’t consider until our kitchens are bombarded with ants in the middle of a sticky summer heat wave.  Snow’s insulating properties also keep small rodents dreaming beneath the drifts at this time of year, instead of trying to find shelter in our homes.

A cold climate also has a positive impact on our intelligence, especially our ability to delay gratification. The mental functions required to store food, dress warmly and create adequate shelter are crucial to survival in harsh environments.

mint in winter

Inedible, dried brown mint in winter

It’s no wonder the Vikings were the first Europeans to make a settlement on this side of the Atlantic.  Habitually doing hard things in a harsh environment gave these cold climate dwellers an edge over other cultures.  Their ability to shrug off the cold and wholeheartedly embrace winter survives to this day.  Though polar dipping may not be to everyone’s liking, at the very least, cold winters incite us to practice hope and patience as we wait for the warmer days ahead.

Last year's pussywillows

Last year’s pussy willows

Text and photographs copyright Amy-Lynn Bell 2013

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windshield in winter

Like most Canadians, I dread being faced with an icy windshield to scrape off before heading out to work in the morning.  That’s after clearing the driveway of course.

driveway cleared after snowfallThe longer your driveway, the less excitement you’re likely to feel at the first big dump of snow.   Though you might approach it as a good exercise workout the first time you shovel the driveway, that can wear a little thin after the third time in as many days.  And absolutely nothing is more irritating at this time of year than the sound of the street snowplow driving by and filling the end of your driveway with even more snow after you thought you had lifted your last shovelful.

snow on lichensHowever, there is a bright side to snow.  I especially like the way it trims the trees and lichens in the forest…

snow in woods

… And the way it tastes.  Blended with cream and sugar, fresh fallen snow makes a snow-cream that’s more refreshing than ice-cream.

Fresh snow, cream and sugar make delicious snow-cream.

Fresh snow, cream and sugar make delicious snow-cream.

Note:  it’s not a good idea to use snow from the season’s first snowfall as this may contain too many impurities. Give it a try. You can always burn the calories while shoveling the driveway ;)

Fresh snow-cream

Fresh snow-cream

This blog post was created in response to Views Infinitum’s Assignment 23:  Winter.   Scott has asked participants to show what winter means to us.  The assignment is open to all.  Deadline for submissions is Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013 at midnight (your local time).

Text and photographs copyright Amy-Lynn Bell 2013

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What exactly marks the end of a season and the beginning of the next?  The calendar has little to do with it.  Despite the subtle changes that slowly happen over days and weeks, one day these all accumulate and the transformation from summer to autumn is all too evident.  A lone trembling red leaf sends out the message to all:  summer has ended.

Canada geese too announce the message in the marsh with their honking call.  The days are getting shorter.  Even the sky and waters at sunrise seem different, less warm and more ominous of the darker, colder mornings ahead.

As if to compensate, the marsh grasses glow with golden hues.  Do herons dread the colder days ahead as much as we humans do?  Warm and wonderful summers are especially difficult to leave behind.

The end of summer means food will soon be difficult to find for many creatures.  In the marsh, the woods, and even the house, spiders can be  seen diligently spinning their webs in the hopes of capturing the last of the season’s flying insects.

Those who haven’t prepared for the colder days ahead will be singing their sad songs in the days to come.

Please let me out so I can sing in the sunshine one last time.

This post was written in response to Scott Thomas’ End of Summer challenge at Views Infinitum.

All text and photographs copyright Amy-Lynn Bell 2012.

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Earth, my dearest, I will. Oh believe me, you no longer need your springtimes to win me over – one of them, ah, even one, is already too much for my blood. Unspeakably, I have belonged to you, from the first.
~  Rainer Maria Rilke

The Earth doesn’t care about age or wrinkles.  What’s a decade or two when you’re a billion years old and a few cracks when you’re scarred regularly by earthquakes? 

And what does the Earth care about how often the floor is swept? It considers last autumn’s litter simply next year’s humus.

And so what does the Earth value?  Could the persistence of grass be a clue?

Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.
~ Kahlil Gibran

New life amid the forest debris

Where man finds dissatisfaction, the Earth finds promise and the potential for renewal. Fallen trees and fallen leaves are all cherished for what they can offer now, not just the strength and beauty they possessed in days gone by.

Male woodpecker clinging to the underside of a fallen birch tree

Spring is in the air and it’s Earth Day.   Get outdoors and let yourself fall in love.

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testing Atlantic waters in March

Spring sometimes takes one step forward and two steps backwards…

But this spring’s steps forward and backwards seem more extreme than in the past.   How can I be finding refreshment in the waters of the Atlantic one hot day, and soon afterwards be wondering if I should thaw the water in the birdbath?

The vernal pools in the woods are almost dried up. Unless we receive a lot of rain this spring, we’re going to have a very dry summer as there’s no snow left to melt.

The Cow Bay River in late March 2010 (left) and late March 2012 (right)

The Cow Bay River in late March 2010 at left, and late March 2012 at right

Even the Cow Bay River is looking a bit drier than usual for this time of year.

Under sunny skies on Friday, the waters in the marsh were wild and churning.

On the weekend, they were calm as glass…

So calm, that you can barely tell which of these images is inverted…

March is a time of change, when winter gives way to spring.  The process is never gradual.  But these waters seem more mysterious than ever.

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