Wednesday, March 7, 2018
Having been recently trapped on our hillside home site by a snow filled driveway and closed roads, finding indescribable beauty in newly fallen snow may seem contradictory. At bedtime last night the calm air was filled with large flakes of gently falling snow. This morning we were pleased to discover that our new snowfall was much less than had been forecast. A decision will have to be made about the driveway but doing nothing may be the best choice since frost has left that ground.
These cone flower seed heads show both the amount of new snow that fell here and the gentle nature of the windless night. We prefer to leave dead flower stalks in place over winter so that the birds have access to their seeds. Recently we watched Dark-Eyed Juncos harvest their morning meal. At first they appeared to be feeding on objects so small that we could not identify the food. Darting about on the surface of the snow, they were rapidly eating something. Then one of the birds grabbed the Anise Hyssop stem with its beak and gave the plant a firm shake. That action released more seeds that fell on the snow and the bird resumed feeding. It almost looked like a wild bird using a tool to harvest its food.
It may be difficult to understand how an individual that has lost much of his ability to hear can marvel in and enjoy the muffled silence that fills the air during snowfall like this. Absolutely no sound penetrates the dense barrier of the snow covered trees. Vehicles are now moving on the road just across the river but no sound from them reaches us here. Airplanes are still flying overhead but we cannot hear them.
In my younger more reckless days, a walk to the distant ridge would have been my activity of choice during this calm in the storm. The risks of walking alone in the nearly endless forest were understood and accepted. Call it cowardice or wisdom that sometimes comes with age, but home is where I will stay today. Past adventures remain vivid in my memory and using words and pictures once again brings them close.
The end of this pine branch is showing me how to carry the load without breaking. A slight bend keeps the branch attached to the tree for now and creates an attractive image. It will spring back when the snow is gone.
This row of pines that were planted by a child of the farmer that lived here for a time many years ago, always look great. We have used their images many times in the past. The plowed dirty snow heaps show just what is here today. Dead branches have been cleared to create a path that traverses the length of this wooded area. The quiet created by these trees is almost as strong as what surrounds us today. We will not explore this peaceful area today since ice now covers the sloped ground. Its peace and quiet will be experienced once the weather has warmed.
Anise Hyssop stems can be seen just to the right of the bench. No birds are presently feeding there but they will return as will we.