Thursday, March 21, 2013

The First Day of Spring

My Spring Fantasy
Whenever I think of the first day of Spring, this is the way I picture it.  I found this little painting at a Goodwill store years ago when I was digging through the racks of donated pictures looking for a good frame for my mother's oil paintings.  I don't know who the artist 'C. Jaffey' is, but I love the colors.  I never grow tired of looking at this scene and often fantasize about what it would be like to live there.

 But then my pessimistic thoughts kick in and I worry about the logistics of having a stream so close to my abode.  This looks to be a flood plain, doesn't it?   All it would take is one good gully-washer of a thunderstorm and there goes my pretty stone cottage floating downstream taking all the landscaping with it.  Sheesh, so much for pleasant daydreams about Spring, huh?

The reality of Spring in Wisconsin is much different from the pastoral painting.  Here's what it looked like out my kitchen window this morning:
The First Day of Spring: Blowing Snow
We had about 4.8 inches of snow on Monday which wasn't too bad, but then Monday night the winds kicked in and blew for two straight days in the 35-40 mph range.  The temperature on Tuesday night was 5 degrees above zero and on Wednesday we struggled to get past 25.  I watched with fascination as the snow drifts in the back yard grew taller hour by hour.  I wish I'd had the foresight to set up a time lapse camera, it would have been fascinating to watch Mother Nature build her sculptures.
Wednesday morning
Since the wind just kept howling, I waited to plow out our driveway until Carl came home from work on Tuesday night.  We haven't had snowbanks like this in years and Carl was just able to get his car off the road and into the driveway.  It would have taken me a good couple of hours to use our walk behind snowblower and I doubt that thing could have gotten through some of the 4' tall drifts.  Joel wasn't around, so I was looking forward to using our tractor and the big snow blower attachment for the first time.

Carl said he'd handle the chore, which is unusual for him.  His stance on snow removal has been historically nonchalant.

"We don't need to plow or snow blow, it will all be gone by July anyway.  Why work so hard?"

But on Tuesday night, even Carl felt there was a definite need to get rid of some of the white stuff.  I'd been cooped up in the house all day and was rarin' to go.   I hadn't driven the tractor since November and I miss it.

Carl drove me up the road to Mom's house so I didn't have to walk headfirst in the high winds.  When we got to Mom's driveway it was impassable, too.   But there were truck tracks in her yard so Carl parked his car on the road and went in to find out who had been there (It was amazing they hadn't gotten stuck!) while I warmed up the tractor.  Turns out, Mom's furnace went on the blink and she had called the furnace repairman who had just left to go get some parts.  And no, she hadn't called me to tell me she didn't have heat.  She's so independent yet, but I do worry, which is why I suppose she doesn't tell me anything.

With the tractor running and warmed up a bit, I lifted the snowblower up with the hydraulics and cautiously engaged the power take off shaft and then revved up the rpms on the tractor as I backed into the first snowbank.  The blower is over 5' wide, so it takes a lot of horsepower and I had to ride the clutch constantly so the engine won't bog down, but it's amazing how fast I could clear the snow.  I made two passes down the driveway and was on my third trip when the furnace guy arrived again.  He must have thought I was done because he parked in my way, but he was nice enough to move his van so I could get by him and drive down to our house, too.  

Ernie the Urn looking forlorn (and still wearing Christmas lights!)
The road was icy and the snow blower is very heavy making the front end of the tractor light, so I drove in first gear.  I didn't need the tractor getting squirrelly and end up running in the ditch.  In less than twenty minutes I had our yard cleared too, and then I just had to brave the high wind in my face as I drove back up to the machine shed at Mom's again.

 I met our town snowplow on the road and we exchanged the standard two finger salute as we passed each other.  The township we live in does an amazing job of keeping our little side roads clear.  Back in my childhood we would have been snowed in for days before the county would have gotten around to our dirt trail.  That has all changed in the last twenty years, we're no longer cut off from civilization after a blizzard.  They wing out the ditches as far as they can with their plows.  Sometimes they get over a little too far; a few weeks ago Carl came home to find our mailbox lying in the middle of the road, poor thing.  I'll have to get Mom to do some touch up work on the flowers she painted on it.

Frost on the windows, reminiscent of ferns to me
I went out to the chicken coop this morning to check on the Girls.  They weren't liking the new snow and clucked at me sadly as they surveyed the scene outside.  Another day spent 'cooped up'.  Their coop window was frosted with dazzling designs and I was reminded of how our windows always looked like this in the farmhouse when I was a kid.  I have always loved staring at the sparkling, intricate designs and missed them once my folks installed more weather-tight windows. 

 After the chores were done, I tried to capture some of the snow banks left behind by the wind.  I should have worn gloves because it was only ten above zero, but I find gloves to be a nuisance when I'm trying to photograph stuff.  So, with no further ado, here's the stuff I photographed:
Aaargh is almost level with snow. 

East Quarry Hill, only a few rocks sticking out. 
The drift behind the house is of epic proportions though this picture doesn't do it justice.  The trellis is over 8' tall.
Amazing how the snow collects in these shapes.
Waves of snow, frozen in motion
'Fat Albert' spruce and accompanying snow sculpture
The Quarry itself didn't have much drifting, though the pond area is filling up.  Here's a bunch of random Quarry pictures:

I was amazed by the shape of this drift, about 3' tall.
The biggest drift of all is between the Escarpment and the Quarry garden itself.  This monster drift is over 7' tall and has completely obliterated the passageway that is big enough to drive our tractors through.

Monster Drift!

If I was standing in front of this drift, I would look Small, so trust me, this is a BIG pile of snow.  Ha.
The other side of the temporary mountain.  I wish we could get rocks this size.
Snowbanks distort the tree shadows in weird ways, too.
So, that's what the first day of Spring looks like here on the farm.  You know me, I'm happy with the snowstorm, I think it's great.  I've been keeping busy indoors with the ol' exercising and with stained glass.  I'm still working steadily on the big Wisteria shade, which is a whole lot bigger than the Pony Wisteria, below:

'Indoor flowers'
Once the snow melts, I have to get those seeds planted and go back to work on Aaargh and all the other stuff that didn't get done last fall. I never feel guilty or pressured when there's snow on the ground, I can go outside and just enjoy visiting the garden. 

Spring will get here soon enough and all the outdoor madness will begin again.

But not until it thaws.  Until then, I'm a Gardener on Vacation.

Please don't hate me 'cause I'm lazy.

And a procrastinator.

Yep, guilty as charged.  Christmas decorations in March.

There's two deer in there.  Somewhere.

No worries.

We'll find 'em by July.


FlowerLady Lorraine said...

Wonderful photos Karen. They don't look as bleak as earlier ones. The sun shining on your home's roof and on everything is a great sign. Light and warmth, even in the cold. Love those drifts.

Have a great day working on your newest lamp.

Hugs ~ FlowerLady

Sandy said...

Your first day of Spring looks cold but oh so beautiful with the sun shining on all that snow... We had a chilly thunder storm blow through and it was wet and soggy all day.
Beautiful photos!

Heather said...

Karen, even with all the snow and everyone talking about spring, these pictures look just beautiful! Fresh snow is an amazing scene! Good for you for driving the tractor, not something I would do, that's hubby's job! Cheers~

Pamela Gordon said...

Karen, it looks really beautiful even though I know you are tired of all the snow and cold. The drifts are amazing sculptures. We had a snowstorm yesterday that delivered 18 inches of snow to us! Our snow was mostly gone from heavy rain last week and now we're covered in white again. A year ago we were basking in 75 F heat and no snow. A fluke year for sure. We know spring weather is coming soon and the miracle will happen - all that snow will be gone and replaced by green and colour. Hugs, Pamela

Alison said...

Oh My! This post gave me nightmare flashbacks to when we lived in New England. Nigel always hated clearing the driveway too, with our snowblower. Would it start? Would the snow be too much for it to handle? Every storm was a nailbiter for me. His attitude was similar to Carl's -- it's just going to melt eventually. Yeah, but in the meantime, I have to get out to the grocery store.

El Gaucho said...

I think that was the storm that blew through our neck of the woods, we got about 5 inches of snow too and a heck of a lot of wind. I've also discovered the same thing - photographing snow drifts just doesn't do them justice. It is dang hard to get a good picture of a snow drift!!

Dragonfly Treasure said...

All that lovely oure white snow is so gorgeous! and a great excuse not to go out ;)

I still have a few xmas decos up but no snow to blame it on :(

What is up with all the spam?? I get about 5-10 a day. Makes me so frustrated! And some of them are so gorss. I hate to go back to word verification but I see a lot of bloggers have. So frustrating

Have a wonderful weekend in you warm house with your lampshade.

Lana said...

Oh...I want to jump in that snow so bad!! This past weekend, we were at our acreage here in Texas and it was 86 degrees! I am sunburned! The pictures you post are always amazing and I ended with a hearty laugh over the Christmas decoration! Always love coming for a visit!!


Zoey said...

We got the same storm here. I love the interesting shapes of your drift pics.

Everyone I talked to is sick of seeing snow, no matter how beautiful it is. Hopefully we all get warmer weather next week!

Anonymous said...

I love the snow sculptures. They really are beautiful in the landscape. Gorgeous photos too. I am like you, more than happy to wait. We have a lot less snow, but it is still white out there with more each day. Each year that Spring is late, the plants bloom simultaneously and make for a really pretty garden. One year, when I still had the Cherry tree, all the trees bloomed at once, it was like your painting, lots of color. They are planned to bloom sequentially, but I was happy to see the change up.

Rosemary said...

Per usual you manage to find beauty in the world around in riding a tractor.... you are a lesson in how to enjoy whatever life sends your way.
Cold here too, spring is still waiting to make a full appearance..

Betsy said...

Oh how pretty your pictures are. I can see the wind was strong by the drifts. The pastoral painting is a spring dream, we can't have two days in a row here that are warm enough to keep what little blooms of spring flowers we have. I don't think the azaleas will be very pretty this year.
Enjoyed you pictures and happy weekend - Betsy

Lona said...

Okay you convinced me Karen, I am not going to complain about the 3 to 6 inches that is heading our way.LOL! Those snow drifts are amazing. I think I have only saw drifts that size about five times here in Ohio. Seems we had more and bigger snows when I was a kid, or maybe I was jut smaller then and they looked bigger. LOL! I do not know how you stand up to that cold girl. I am such a wimp. Have a lovely weekend and by the way the lampshade turned out just so gorgeous. Wow!

Debbie@Debbie-Dabble and A Debbie-Dabble Christmas said...

Holy Moly!! You sure have a lot of snow there!! We are supposed to get another storm Sunday into Monday....
Love that picture of Spring with the cottage and flowers but I really LOVE your stained glass shade that you are working on!!! Spectacular!!!

I have loss 4 pounds now and am finally feeling better. I hope my stomach got used to my new food choices and that it was a touch of the flu which was bothering me.
I am encouraged with the weight loss . I hope to post about it all soon....

Thanks for visiting!!


HolleyGarden said...

Those snow drifts are amazing! Not having seen much snow, I've never seen anything like that. Didn't even realize snow did that, I guess! This spring has been so wishy-washy. One day it's nice, the next day it's cold. The next two nights are supposed to get down to freeing here! I know it's nothing like you're used to, but that's cold for us! :) Anyway, I'm glad you're not going stir crazy. It sounds like you're enjoying the time inside, and having a break from the garden. Spring will show up eventually!

Shirley said...

Too funny! I am amazed your grasses remain upright with the drifts around them! Mother Nature did some fine sculpting in your yard this time. It's all very beautiful.

Carolyn ♥ said...

I've missed you, Karen! I came here from a comment you made to Ginny... so glad to see your smiling face again. Snow and wind... sounds like home to me. Spring always has a tug of war with Winter in my gardens. Yesterday we got 6 inches of snow with howling winds. Today the snow is mostly melted. Your snow drifts are magical. I just added you to my reader so I can find you, again. I finally started a reader a few weeks ago, after nearly 3 years of blogging, I realized it was time. Stay warm!

Dragonfly Treasure said...

Hi Karen,
Just checking up on you to see if ypu've hit the thaw yet? When we lived in Kodiak, every Spring the base would have a kid friendly "Break up Party" which meant the ice was indeed breaking up. It was fun for us and the kids.

Speaking of Zoos the one I have been most impressed with is Miami Metro Zoo....they placed base housing right next to it, guess they thought it was a perfect fit! LOL At night you could hear Lions, monkeys, etc kinda cool. We spent lots of time there, seasonal passes with free guest passes if someone flew out to visit made it a great place for entertainment, which also included concerts. Three Dog Night (High School era) and the like would be there. BUIT the way they had it set up was amazing. All the zoos I had ever been to all had the animals in cages. Metro Zoo had huge, reall huge )like an acre or more huge!) areas surronded by moats and then the fences. The areas were all set up with a natural habitat from where the animal would be from.

Which of course made the whole Zoo an all day walk from one end to the other. Used to poop the kids out too ;)

Miami is such a great place to visit, but not live. We got stuck there for 5 yrs (DOT ran out of money for transfers)During the Miami Vice days. It was exactly as you saw on TV. Shots everywhere, bomb threats in housing - rough days. I'm sure it's calmed down since then. We also got season passes (with free guest passes) for Monkey jungle where the monkeys are free and you are the ones in the cases - caged walkways for the humans. Great times.
Parrot Jungle had the same set up. Made it really nice when friends or family flew out for visits, cheap entertainment for all. And they all had great shows with the animals too.

Wishing you and yours a Happy Easter now in case I don't get back around before then!
Take care

Jennifer said...

Hi Karen, It's funny, I read about your Goodwill picture and paused for a second to consider the painting. I admired the scene and thought hmm, "that stream is awful close to the house". In the next sentence, I read your pessimistic thoughts about the flood plain. I think I am too practical a person as well.
It is cold here as well, but we don't have new snow. We just have old, dirt, grey snow that refuses to move on! That is quite the storm you had. I sure hope that it warms up soon. I am more than ready for spring. Have a nice Easter!

Corner Gardener Sue said...

Your place does look almost as pretty in snow as it does full of blooms.

Anonymous said...

"Your place does look almost as pretty in snow as it does full of blooms."

Definitely agree on this one.

Shyrlene said...

THAT is some serious snow! (My husband would be in Heaven! He loves winter and would move up to WI in a heartbeat.) We don't nearly have the snow that we used to here, but it absolutely can be freezing - especially this year.

So no more complaints about cold weather from me. You have it in spades and then some. On the other hand, you are going to have some awesome snow melt .. which means very happy plants, bushes and trees. That is a nice long 'drink' of water! :)