Already the Days are Getting Longer

Working outside the home and commuting daily allows a person to notice when the days get longer and shorter.  There is a consistent time piece of our daily routine when we walk out the door, get on the highway, catch the commuter bus or train by which  we are able to measure our days. We noticed day and night relative to that constant migration daily to work and home again.

I feel like I have been living in constant darkness lately.   Each day I left home  in the dark of night with the stars overhead heading to town and came home in the same darkness. If I was going to get some sunshine it had to be during my lunch hour.    This first week of January we had  vicious cold snap of subzero temperatures.   One day we got all the way down to -30 at our house, and that was before we factored in the wind.   I was down right miserable in the  cold and darkness.   Yet by the end of the week, even with the nasty freezing temps, I had found hope.   I was driving home as the sun was setting.   In Montana twilight lasts forever, so suddenly I was driving home in the last vests of daylight.   The days were still cold, but the afternoon light was giving me hope and encouragement.    The hint of days getting longer has gave me optimism and hope that no matter how cold the days were yet to come and no matter how long the nights, spring though months away is slowing making its way to my neck of the woods.

Long Nights – Short Days

Yesterday was the first day of winter.  It is the shortest day of the year , if we are talking sunshine.    I went to work in the dark and after working all day I headed home in the dark.   In spite of all the darkness when I got to work I found beauty in the local homes blanketed by the snow illuminated by the glow of street lights.I just had to capture what I saw and share it with you. IMAG3234.jpg

Joy of Holiday Cards

Today I spent the day making holiday cards to mail.    I stamped and painted all my holiday cards and then stamped my envelopes as well.   I thoroughly enjoyed the process though most would say I was nuts to make something handmade that will likely end up in the trash after the holiday season.   But it okay for me.  I enjoyed thinking about the people I knew we were sending them to.

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I love to get holiday cards and yes the infamous Christmas letters.   I love to hear from friends and families we have known for years and life has altered our course such that we are no longer living close by.   I  read them when they arrive and again once the holiday is over.   I think about the people who sent them and how our paths crossed.  I love to catch up if only once a year.   I love to see the pictures that folks share and how they have changed. .   I love it all because they took time to “say hi.”

It used to be that many more folks sent holiday cards. Folks drop you an email and that seems to be where we are going.   I know it is expensive to purchase cards and the cost of postage is nothing to sneeze at.   I know people’s time is often more precious than the  money, so spending an evening or Sunday  doing cards is hard for some folks to justify.     All of these are some of the many  reasons why the tradition is fading away.

In this hurry up, always on, electronic age it is fun to get a piece of happy mail on a cold snowy night and remember the people in your life.   Thanks to everyone who send me a card, photo or letter this year.   To everyone that I sent to I hope you enjoy.

Harbinger of Spring

Growing up in the Midwest the return of the robin was always a harbinger of spring.   Here in southwest Montana  a kind of sparrow like bird is always the first to return in the spring is.   Following the sparrow like bird a week or so later is the bluebird.   Finally there is the the meadowlark who is the last of the migrating birds to return.

I first noticed the sparrow like birds early last week.  When hanging my first clothes out I could clearly hear them calling out to one another about the bounty or lack of bounty they were finding here in Montana.   They were gathering and flitting about in the pastures around the house.   They always seem to be on the move and just far enough away that I never capture them well with a camera.

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Mountain bluebird in the snow. Taken by Betty Holling.

Monday I saw my first bluebird.    I haven’t seen another one yet, but I am sure more of them will be arriving soon.   Once the males have mostly arrived and check out the digs we have on the fence posts, the females won’t be far behind.  We have a series of blue bird houses on our fence posts and love to watch them each year.

I looked at my blog to see when I wrote about the bluebird last time  and see I saw this fella almost two weeks earlier this year.   Last time we had a major snow storm with six inches  just after my first bluebird arrived.   This year we have woken up to snow already twice this week.   It always make me think about hearty and resilient these little guys are.   How far they go to return here each spring and how the weather doesn’t stop them.   It is how we should all look at the setbacks we have once we get spring fever.   March on it will get better.

 

The Smell of Laundry on the Line

Either you  love clothes on the line or you don’t.   The most common reason I have heard  for not liking clothes on the line is they are not drier fluffy.  On the opposite side of the argument is that no one has managed to actually capture the smell of sunshine and outdoors that you can only get with clothes hung on the line in any of those bottled smells for laundry soap or drier sheets.   I fall into the camp that the smell of line-dried clothes trumps everything else.

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This week it was finally warm enough to put towels out on the line.   We always have a breeze and most the time have some serious wind so even though it wasn’t much above 40 my towels were soon dry. Though the first day of spring is till a couple weeks away and yes there is still snow on the frozen ground, I am not letting that stop me with celebrating a nice day with laundry on the line.

Signs of Spring

This week there was the hint of spring in the air here in southwestern Montana.  We opened the gate on our chicken run and let the hens have a little free range time.   They were excited and ready to run free.     They are looking for the little bits of green that are starting to show up.

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We still have some snow on the ground but they can work their way around it. We pulled out some straw from the coop and spread it around on the ground which is still quite muddy, to help their human caretakers not track so much around and beat what little grass we have down.

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The hens thought that we were tossing the straw about to make it easier to find tasty morsels. We had to do a double take and recount the hens, because all the feathers from the molting they did this winter looked like a fox had been in the hen house.   Fortunately it was a false alarm.

We are all ready for a little spring weather here.   Everyone is tired of being cooped up.

Mud Season Has Arrived

We are having a warm streak here in southwestern Montana.   This winter we had an unusual amount of drifting  that had to be removed from the road by a front-loader to make it passable. Hence monster piles of snow currently sit  alongside the road.   This is now all melting.    It is causing mud season to arrive early and in full force.

Once you turn off the frontage road, you best have your  4-wheel-drive engaged because you are never going to make it here without.   Yesterday the UPS driver arrived with a package and now our driveway is one huge rutted mess.  Today the propane delivery man decided to not even enter the drive, but stopped on the road and pulled the hose for yards to the tank behind the garage.   Smart man.   IMAG2047

We are praying for dry weather, lots of sun and lots of wind so that this soon becomes more than a sink hole of mud.