Travels with MaryE

Most things I love best are about good light and good timing. That's where the adventures start. Don't be in no hurry here. Here you'll find a little bit about bluegrass music, fox hunting, life on the road, time on the mountain, and a whole lot about other things, too.

Friday, February 09, 2007

First Snow, Blue Tits and Great Tits

So sometime in the wee hours of Thursday morning it begin to snow. And snow. And snow. This is my sixth winter in Wales, but until now I haven't seen more than 3 inches of snow on the ground in all those winters. So imagine my surprise when I woke on Thursday to maybe 4 inches of snow....I was so chuffed and I couldn't stop smiling. It was a powdery snow falling in the morning but as the day wore on and it got warmer it became more typical of Welsh snow - big wet flakes. Paxo and Pastime were beside themselves...they'd never seen snow before and they turned themselves inside out playing in it. I think they especially enjoyed getting it stuck all over their noses...didn't they look silly! I let them out in the big fenced garden (known as a yard in America) and it wasn't long until they had trampled every square inch of that 1/2 acre space - no virgin snow there! After a nice roast lunch, the girls came over from across the farm and we let Paxo and Pastime loose, their favorite thing, and they jumped and dashed and ducked and dove here and there to their hearts' content. It was a joy to see. The girls had a pretty large time with the snow and the hounds, too...until they got wet - and cold - which didn't take long at all.

We had the usual episodes of hysteria as the munchkin, aged just 10, got knocked down and then her hat was stolen and used for a football by P&P and tossed and dragged in the snow, chewed and salivated upon. After retrieving her hat, her gloves were next to be confiscated by the pesky hounds and they tossed them around like feathers in the wind. Meanwhile older sis, aged nearly 12, got on her blue "saucer" on a small hill and made a track down it. It was rough going, but soon the hounds were keen to have a go as well and tried to sit on her, join her on the saucer, and sometimes just tried to jump in front of it. Then the girls did the "snow angel" thing and the hounds tried to mimic them but failed miserably.

We headed on up across the field and forded the little stream there and then began the ascent of the fields known as "The Breast." It wasn't long before the munchkin decided to sit in the snow and rest and you guessed it, pretty soon she was cold, not to mention covered up by two overzealous hounds licking her to death. Meanwhile her older sister and I made our way to the top of The Breast and started trying to make a track for the saucer. We took the hounds' leads and tied them to the saucer and I attempted to drag her down the hill which I didn't mind at all, but the going back up was the rough bit. Soon she was tired as well and they both started calling for home. Yikes, I'm thinking....when I was a kid our parents had to FORCE us to come in when it snowed -- after we'd been out all day. We LIVED for that stuff. But I guess kids have changed and they'd rather sit inside playing computer games and Gameboy and watching television and doing things like that, not out doing red-blooded kid stuff. Sheesh.

This tit has a peanut in its mouth, not a deformity!

Anyway, it took some time to gather up the hounds and get them back in their pen/stable and then we headed for the house and I braved driving (by now the snow was 6 inches deep) and took them home since everyone was too tired and wet to walk.

Ever notice how deadly quiet it gets when it snows like that Snow is a giant muffler. There's a peace that cannot be denied....and you find yourself not only wanting to be outside making snowmen and sledding but also staying inside by the woodstove and making hot chocolate with milk and maybe cooking up a big pot of beef stew to serve with some garlic bread. Yummmm...

So today I got up and looked out the window half expecting that it rained during the night and all the snow was gone but surprise! It was snowing. Big, proper snowflakes, hardy Welsh flakes. That was about 8 a.m. When it went dark at 5:30 the flakes were just starting to taper off....and another 6 inches of snow lay on the ground. Wow, at least a foot of snow to play in. No gritters, no ploughs, just silence and the occasional tractor steadily making its way down the lane with a load of silage for some very pregnant ewes. Life has pretty much ground to a standstill around here and I'm loving it. 'Course the farmers have to get out and feed no matter what. But the schools are closed and lots of the parents have stayed home from work because frankly the roads are treacherous. My 4WD will get around the roads, but you never know what you may meet coming the other way and therein lies the danger. Stay put at home.

By tonight, after 2 fun-filled days in the snow I think the hounds were starting to think that goinginto the stable and lying in that fresh straw was a pretty durn good idea and I didn't have as much trouble with them trying to escape when I opened the gate to feed them tonight. I used a hoe to laboriously cut a path from the barn to the granary so the cats wouldn't drown in snow. Life on the farm doesn't stop for snow and the animals must be fed.

So today I took a little walk on my own and filled up a bunch of bird feeders with peanuts and sunflower seeds. The birds fully appreciated it and I was able to stand just inside the door, leaving the door open, and using my 300mm lens I snapped a few photos I like quite well (nothing to brag about); especially some of blue tits and great tits on the sunflower feeder - 7 at one time to be exact. I was bragging to my friend Ruth who informed me this very day she'd made a photo of 13 tits on HER feeder. There's always someone better....

Now there's a foot of snow on the ground and they're calling for more tomorrow, then rain on Sunday. Maybe winter has come at last. I'm sure enjoying this weather and the way snow makes the landscape look so fresh. I hope it sticks around a few days.

I felt like a kid who had the day off from school and could go sledding all day, just like I used to do back in my young days down in front of North High. I used to have this orange "flying saucer" and it was a lot of fun. We had this old, old sled, too, that I think my dad had as a kid; got plenty of use out of that back in those days. Remember how wet you'd get but you didn't mind because it was way too much fun to leave. So you were cold and wet and having the time of your life with all your neighborhood pals.

It doesn't snow like that anymore, at least not often. Today I was telling a neighbor that I haven't seen this much snow in 20 years at least and she said she hadn't either. But back in the 60s it used to snow alot here, just like in upstate New York where I was raised.

It's nice when you see or hear or smell something that takes you back, back, back to happy childhood memories. I'm enjoying each and every flake.