June 2019, Getting Hot!

The evening sky near home. Field of mustard in bloom. Visiting Elijah Cummings district office in Ellicot City, Maryland. Some views of Ellicot City and the old train station. Dorms at Delaware University.

Surprise! June started off with overcast skies and a touch of an early morning light rain. The forecast seems to be varying back and forth between a slight and moderate chance for rain. That makes for something of a tough call for what I have planned. While Liz is still in California I hoping to take the Mustang out for a longer spin. Well, more than just a spin and more like a short trip to visit some friends about an hour and a half away. It would be nice if the rain held off as I would like to make the trip with the top down although it will probably require a light jacket. Ah the things we must suffer for vanity.

Well I feel I got hornswoggled. By the time I was going to head out the weather apps showed a 30%+ chance of rain for late morning, bumping up to 40%+ in the afternoon along with highs in the low 60’s. So with a bit of frustration I opted for the Subaru instead of the Mustang. Well, it turned partly sunny and temperatures hit the high 70’s which would have been perfect for the Mustang. The predicted rain didn’t hit until after midnight. Oh well. No platitudes on this one, I just should have done it.

Sunday is something of a quiet day. My normal routine is to get the Sunday paper and a cup of espresso and spend about an hour just relaxing and reading. It would have been nice to do that on the deck as it is warm enough but things are still a bit wet from the major rain we got around 3 AM. I have few chores to take care of around the house but I need to think up an errand to run so I can get the Mustang out. Do I trust the forecast this time? Maybe time for a coin flip.

Over the next few days the weather zig zagged between a bit of rain and partly sunny skies. By Wednesday the forces of nature aligned for a perfect day for a ride around the countryside in the convertible. It wasn’t a long ride but was enough to blow the cobwebs out of both the Mustang and myself. On Thursday I needed to head over to White River Junction on the other side of the Green Mountains. That morning I was mostly in drone mode and it wasn’t until I was about half way along on the two hour trip that I realized it would have been another great opportunity for the Mustang. It was an enjoyable ride in any case as the trees are now in full leaf mode adding to the vibrant green of the grasses and bushes. Friday I was to be an even nicer day and I was determined to take advantage of it so I opted to take the Mustang as I headed for the gym. I had gotten an early start and there was still a bit of a morning chill but nothing to stop me from enjoying the ride. By 10:30 AM I was done working out and had an espresso at the newly reopened café. The day was fantastic which led me to taking a two hour spin through the countryside. After the long and, I have to say, bleak winter everything was so green. It was quite an enjoyable trip. Upon returning home it was still too beautiful out to waste the day indoors so out came the deck chairs. After about half an hour relaxing in the sun and reading I realized I was about to overdo my time in the sun. I was just starting to feel the edges of a sunburn so with a bit of reluctance I finally headed indoors. On a happy note, both Saturday and Sunday are supposed to be a repeat of wonderful weather.

As I mentioned in the above paragraph I had an espresso at the newly reopened café. It is nice to have a café close to the gym again to be able to have and after workout caffeine treat. As I have moved to having espresso over regular coffee I decided to give their espresso offering a try. It was good but I have to say while it was along the lines of very strong coffee it was not quite what I would say is espresso. The thing is the café is using a different coffee than the one I do so there is a possibility that is a normal espresso for that particular brand. At our favorite coffee shop they have a sign up that states “Brew It Strong”, and they do. Their strong coffee was on par with the new café espresso. I guess I am just spoiled.

Even though today is Saturday and I have no firm commitments I was again up early. My normal routine complete and it isn’t even 10 AM yet which is perfect because, as predicted, it is a beautiful day. Time for another spin around the countryside.

It was a fine ride through the countryside. I have to be careful as this could become quite a habit. Don’t want to conflict with other outdoor activities like hiking and kayaking. Sunday was another beautiful day which worked out perfectly for our neighborhood picnic. The picnic was held at our local state park right by Lake Champlain. Over 40 neighbors showed up and being a potluck there was a lot and a wide array of food available. All in all, a very nice day.

I have been getting up early recently but for some reason Monday morning was an exception. It took a lot of energy to drag myself to the gym but I made it there though over an hour later than normal. While I didn’t do a full workout I did get through about 2/3rds of one so it wasn’t a bad morning. Rain is on the bill for today but it seems to be running a bit late. I could use a little downtime though so I guess all is well.

Our favorite coffee company holds classes on different aspects of all things coffee. This Wednesday the topic is coffee cupping (tasting that is) and I signed up for it. While I am pretty sure the extra dark roast is for me it will be nice to make sure. There are a couple of other roasts offered that I have been meaning to check out and this class will cover that. Sounds like a good day to me.

The coffee tasting went well but wasn’t what I had expected. The class was about noticing the subtle aroma and flavor of coffee. In this test a batch of single source beans were ground up and added to 5 ramekins. Then a second batch of single source beans were ground up and added to 5 different ramekins. The first batch of beans were from Peru and the second batch from Columbia. We then smelled each ramekin to see if we could tell the difference. My senses are not all that delicate but I seemed to be able to note a slight difference in a couple of them. Hot water was then added to the grounds and the sniffing process was repeated. Then it was on to taking a small soup spoon and getting a small taste of each. I am kind of the bull in the china shop type and this was more of a notice the delicate flavor test. I could tell the Colombian beans has something of a berry flavor, which is one of my least favorite flavors of coffee. As it cooled the berry flavor got a bit stronger which was not a plus in my book. The Peruvian leaned towards being a touch nutty which moved more to something like a peanut shell as it cooled off. Not bad but I was looking more for a rich, smoky flavor of an extra dark roast. In any case it was nice to see what the experts go through in selecting coffee for this company. There are several categories that are judged and while one can get better at it over time it still takes a discerning palate to be good at it. So, being a coffee taster is not something in my future but being a dark or extra dark roast coffee/espresso drinker is where I have landed and will stay.

The past several days have been either mostly sunny or at least partly sunny and warm which meant it was convertible time. With the leafing out of the trees a ride around the countryside was a treasure trove of greenery. By Thursday I had already taken three loops of about an hour each and decided today would be a longer time out. Planning on heading out right after being at the gym I took the convertible in. There was only one other person there, a guy I have known for a couple of years. He also got the sunny day bug and rode his Harley in. We headed our separate ways and after motoring around for over an hour we passed each other on one of the back roads. Yup, I wasn’t the only one to have been bitten by the beautiful day bug.

Friday brought a different sort of routine. Liz, who had been visiting friends out on the west coast, was flying back into Burlington on a late flight. Even though we are just over an hour away from the airport I decided to get a room in Burlington for then night. The flight came in a touch early but it was still a late night. We had intended on wandering around the Church Street area before heading home but I forgot we were going to do that and headed out. Oh well, not a big deal but it would have been fun to just stroll around. Saturday started off with early clouds and a touch of rain before becoming partly sunny. It was time for another backcountry ride to show Liz how things have greened up. There was a very light sprinkle as we returned home but nothing of consequence. It is now Sunday and we are settled in thinking about getting back to our normal routine tomorrow morning. We will see how well we do with that.

We fell back into our normal routine fairly easily. It was almost as if there hadn’t been a break at all. On top of that the café in the same building as our gym has now reopened so we have been stopping for coffee a couple of times a week. We were chatting with the owner, a very friendly person, on how things were going. She will have the formal opening in a couple of weeks and was doing what she called a soft opening for now to get the feel of the place. The former café was open from 8 – 2 with light breakfast and lunch fare but the new café will soon go to longer hours and serve dinner as well. While the coffee is no longer from the Vermont Coffee Company, our favorite, they are using a fair trade, organic coffee that has a good flavor. Anyway, yea for the new café!

We have had several days with great weather. Partly or mostly sunny with highs in the 70’s. Thursday was a bit of a one off though as a pretty monster storm came through that brought a deluge of rain with it. Flood warnings went up all over and some of the towns near us did get hit with flood damage but our town was fine. Kind of a funny way to welcome the first day of summer. By late morning on Friday the beautiful weather was back and we were again out and about. The first Sunday of summer lived up to its Babylonian namesake with a lot of sun. There was only a slight breeze which would have made a morning paddle on the lake a treat. The thing is the kayaks are still in the rafters in our garage and since we are heading out on Monday for around a fortnight to poke around Maryland and Delaware we figured we would wait until we came back to get them out. With this past winter being colder and longer than the last three we are doing our best to ‘make hay while the sun is shining’ to use an agricultural saying since we live in a rural state.

It was time for a road trip and to go somewhere a bit different we are headed to have a poke around Maryland and Delaware. A while ago we decided we would like to keep our driving time down to around 4 hours a day and this trip is no different. It is about an 8 hour total drive to the area we are headed to so we have picked out a place about half way there that fits the bill of a 4 hour drive. By not pushing it we get to explore during our trips and are not worn out when we get there. We did take a look at the train schedules just in case and it is a possibility but we would have to rent a car on the other side so maybe next time.

With the weather getting more summer like, when we get back from our trip it will be time to get the kayaks out. The water has warmed up enough to make it OK to get out there. The one thing we do have to watch though is the wind if we head out on Lake Champlain. It can come up pretty quickly and get a bit choppy. There are always the smaller lakes or other waterways but we have been to most of the ones in our area a couple of times. Going on a repeat paddle would be fine but we need to get out on the lake a few more times. In any case, just getting out on a nice day is a winner even if we have paddled the area before.

We have been getting up early as it gets light around 4:30 AM which makes it tough to sleep in. Well, I should say we have been waking up early as we don’t quite leap out of bed at 4:30. It is more like 5:30 or more likely 6. We are also staying up later as it stays light until after 9 PM. That makes for nice long days as it is light out for more than 17 hours and we are enjoying the longer days. The thing is, now that the Summer Solstice has come and gone the daylight hours will start to shrink to just under 9 hours a day when we hit late December. That is a whopping 8 hour difference in the amount of daylight.

The 4 hour trip turned into about 5 and a half hours but that was our choice. We chose to take the backroads rather than the freeway. Even though it was longer, the drive was a lot more relaxed and scenic. We stopped in Troy, NY for lunch and to stretch our legs. It was the largest of the towns we went through. Most of the towns had seen better days but still had something of a decent core in them. We also got some nice views of the Hudson River and Champlain canal.

The weather has been somewhat cooperative in that it only rained a slight bit in the early morning but it was hot. Even leaving the windows slightly open in the car did not really help. At first the humidity was in a decent range but that soon changed so we were treated to both heat and humidity. Just stepping outside one would get hit with a blast instantly. Blue jeans are a definitely a wrong choice.

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May 2019 Is In The Books

High water at the Panton town beach. Those trees are not normally under water. Progressive shots of the sunset. A late night visitor captured on our trail camera. More high water views. One can normally walk another 30 feet out on the rocks that are now under water.

Spring, the greening up and not the date, had arrived in North Carolina before we arrived for our visit. It was a foretelling of what was to come when we returned to Vermont. Not right away but it is coming. It is amazing that just under 900 miles could make such a difference. When we left North Carolina the temperatures were in the 70’s+, it was getting a bit humid, the trees had all leafed out, and spring was in full swing. Arriving back home, the grass is green but the trees have not yet leafed out and the temperatures are in the mid 40’s. Spring is about to arrive in Vermont and I am really looking forward to seeing it here.

Today is cleanup day for Vermont. I’m sure it happens in other places as well where local folks get trash bags from their town and stroll along the roads picking up trash. We did our local area and found it to be fairly clean. We only collected about half a trash bag which seemed to be about par for the course as some neighbors we came across had about the same amount in their bag. We have had a lot of rain lately but luckily the cleanup Saturday was clear and semi-warm.

When Monday rolled around the skies were clear and the temperature was headed towards 70 degrees. That meant just one thing, it was time to get the Mustang out. It had been slumbering in out garage since around October except one nice day in March when its annual inspection was due. I had started it a few times but the deep cold finally took a toll on the battery and I had to get out the jump starter. With the top down, sun glasses on and the jump starter in the back seat it was time for a spin in the countryside. After about an hour of driving around the battery was still flat so it looks like a new battery is in order. Anyway, the drive was quite nice and relaxing. As usual there were not a lot of other cars on the road which added to the easy pace. A lot of rain in the near term forecast but there will be other days.

Speaking of car things, it is time to switch out the snow tires on the Subaru. It might sound strange to wait until mid-May but this is the northeast so erroring on the side of caution is not thought of as odd up this way. Even though it hasn’t happened in a while there has been measurable snow up through June. Still, it is time for the change.  And soon afterwards the kayak racks will go on the Subaru getting ready for the paddling season. There have been several days where Lake Champlain looks pretty smooth which would make for great kayaking. The water levels are still a bit high though but should be back to normal by June.

Wednesday brought another beautiful, sunny day although a warmer temperature did not come to visit along with it. It did break into the low 50’s but even a gentle breeze put it back into the 40’s. And a frost warning has been issued for tonight as it is predicted to drop back just under freezing. Looking at the forecast we will be in a slow warming trend so that teasing of spring is on its way. Speaking of wind, it has picked up so the glass smooth lake is now kind of choppy. In fact it is just on the edge of forming whitecaps.

I had a set routine for my workouts at our gym. Monday, Wednesday and Friday were cardio days and Tuesday Thursday was weightlifting. Well, I checked with a physical therapist and while exercising is good I wasn’t doing an optimal workout. I just had to ask didn’t I! Combining cardio and weights is a better way to go, at least for me. YMMV. I now start off with 30+ minutes of cardio, go to 20 minutes of weights, another 20 minutes of cardio followed by another 15 minutes of weights. I then wind things up with about 10 minutes of Tai Chi. Between catching up from our two week vacation at the end of April and this change of routine I feel as if I rolled down an rocky slope. It is starting to get better but it is going to take a bit of work to get there. As speaking of the gym, the little café is about to open. I’m not sure what the cuisine will be but I really hope morning coffee is on the list of items. Stay tuned.

Spring is again teasing its possible arrival. Last night it was mild out with mostly clear skies. I was able to be out on the deck in my t-shirt and not feel uncomfortable. While I did see the forecast for rain so there might be a bit of bias there I did have the feeling there was some rain on the way. I could say it was one of my old backpacking skills but it has been several years since I have been out in the backwoods. Then again… Sure enough our Friday morning trip to the gym happened in the rain but by around noon a bit of blue sky started to poke through. As the day wore on the sky cleared even more so it was time break out the deck chairs and enjoy the sun. The good news is the weekend is supposed to be mostly clear and sunny so the Mustang might make another appearance on the back roads. Then again I might just get lazy and ride the deck chair while doing some reading. Taking a hike would be a nice thing to do but with all the rain it is not a good idea as the trails would be gloppy. Not good to mess up the trails and it would be hard on the boots as well.

Friday the 10th was open late night in the nearby town of Vergennes. All the shops on the small main street will stay open until around 10 PM to celebrate the coming of spring. We were debating about attending or to just be curmudgeons and stay home with a warm beverage. In the end we did rally and went to the Friday night stroll. It was somewhat enjoyable so I’m glad we went. We stopped in a few of the shops but didn’t pick up anything as we are still trying to pare down on stuff. We had thought we had done a good job of it when we moved from California but when we unpacked here in Vermont we still had a lot of stuff we need to get under control.

Today and Sunday are supposed to be partly sunny and I see a lot of blue sky this morning. A bit of a wind is making it a touch cool but it is still early morning. During the week we are usually up early to head off to the gym because it feels better to get our workout done in the morning so we can have the rest of the day for whatever. We don’t go to the gym on weekends so have the chance to sleep in, which for some reason we rarely do. Take this morning for instance. It is Saturday and we have nothing pressing yet we were up sometime around 6:30 AM. Still, I do enjoy making a cup of espresso and standing out on the deck watching Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks. It is usually quiet, from human noises that is, but there is almost always birdsong and the sound of the waves hitting the shore. We are also hearing the honking of newly returned geese and a few ducks here and there as well. I’m not totally sure why but we seem to have a connection to geese. Even out in California it was fun to see the geese. They liked to hang out at the local park and occasionally flew over our house. Our first few months here in Vermont we were in a rental by Lake Champlain up north and it had a woods next to it. It was prime goose territory and by late spring there were over a dozen yellow fuzzballs hatched. The adults would bring them by our place and land them on the beach for feeding and training. It was quite interesting to see how the adults trained the chicks and to watch the chicks grow up and turn into young adult geese. I think the geese got used to us as we would sit on the patio and watch them. One adult goose wanted to see how close it could get to us but we gently shooed it away as we did not want them to trust humans. Best for them to keep a wary eye on us two legged beasts as not all of us have good intentions. Anyway, another sound we occasionally hear at night is the call of a loon. It is a treat when we hear that warbling call as the loon population has diminished over the years. During the late nights of summer we also hear the hooting of owls. We have not seen them but it is a deep hoot so figure it might be a large one like barn owl. The eagles and osprey are making their rounds along the shoreline and we have seen osprey in the nest down the road. They must have already laid their eggs as one of them is always sitting on the nest now. The eagle’s nest is across the street in the pines on the other end of the farmer’s field but we don’t know exactly where. I could tromp over there but don’t want to disturb the eagles or go through the field without permission. Redwing blackbirds and robins have also returned. And ‘our’ rabbit is around more often now. We have seen a few grey squirrels but less that what seems normal. There was one grey squirrel I was watching build a nest but all activity in that effort has stopped and I haven’t seen the squirrel in a while. The red squirrels and chipmunks seem to have disappeared too. I guess I need to set up the trail camera again as it might be a fox or other predator in the area. I’ll let you know what, if anything, shows up on the camera overnight. I have gotten some pictures in the past but haven’t set the camera up in a while so it is time again. There has to be some activity going on at night and if there is the camera will pick it up.

It is pretty obvious I enjoy a good cup of coffee. At home I have moved to having a cup of espresso first thing. And will it warming up, standing out on the deck enjoying my espresso is occurring more often. One thing I have noticed is the cup doesn’t last very long. I guess sipping is just not something I am programmed for. I looked at mixing some decaf beans with my normal grind. While flavor was OK it just wasn’t the same so I gave up on that. Because I like strong flavor I like the extra dark beans which I have read have less caffeine than medium or light roast. Maybe not a lot less but it works for me. Being in my mid-60’s I have decided not to go along with mediocre coffee. I want my Vermont Coffee Company dark roast beans. Yes, I’m spoiled.

I mentioned earlier the snow tires are getting swapped out for the all season tires and tomorrow is that day. I mentioned that it is not out of the realm of possibility we might get some snow. Well, the weather report this morning mentioned a cold front headed our way out of Canada that will bring, wait for it, snow. OK, just snow flurries at the higher elevations but still. This time of year the tire shops are backed up with tire change out requests so I had made this appointment a couple of weeks ago so changing it is not an option I want to take. The appointment is at 9 AM so hitting the gym in the morning is not an option so I will just give the Tuesday morning visit a miss. On a more positive note, the tire shop is about half way to our food co-op and since Tuesday is grocery shopping day the timing is good.

Well that was an interesting few days. There was a bit of snow at the higher elevations but down here by the lake it was rain. There have been some sunny intervals but for the most part clouds have been the order of the day. I got to the tire shop on time and it didn’t take long to get the new tires installed. It was then off to the co-op for the weekly grocery shopping. After that, I was headed to the local bakery and while at the traffic circle, the only traffic circle in Middlebury, waiting for my turn to enter I got rear ended by someone coming out of a side street. It’s not as if I was weaving in traffic. I was waiting at the yield sign for traffic to clear so I could enter the traffic circle when boom, I was hit. It wasn’t a gentle tap either. I have no idea what the person was doing or thinking. I was at a dead stop, yielding to traffic in the circle, and had been for at least 20 seconds when the other driver gunned her car and crashed into mine. Luckily there were no injuries. While still getting my wits a Middlebury cop happened to be passing and asked if I wanted a police report. Well, yes I did! My insurance agent is in Middlebury so I took the car by his office and got the ball rolling for the repair. The insurance folks were quite friendly and helpful which made me feel better and take on the attitude of hey, it’s only a car. Just the aggravation of having to deal with the accident. The person who caused the accident had just driven up from Florida, evidenced by the Florida plates. It might not be all that rational but it reinforces my dislike for Florida. Sigh. Time to head off to the repair shop to find out the extent of the damage and to get an estimate for repair.

While the large dent in the right rear looked pretty nasty, it appears to be mostly cosmetic in nature so the car can be driven. Well, that’s a relief. It should only take a couple of days to repair and further on the plus side the shop has a great reputation. On the downside, the shop has a great reputation so it is quite busy. The first opening for repair is out into July. With the repair date scheduled it was time to head back home. But since I was already near our co-op, a stop to pick up a couple of items was in order. Errands all done I was back home before noon and ready to kick back for the rest of the day. The rain that had arrived in early morning but by mid-morning it had stopped. In fact, by noon small blue patches started to pop through the gloomy sky. Not long after there were some very large patches of blue and the sun warmed up the day. It was just right for the for the deck chairs to come out and for us to take up our preferred position on the deck. A good book, the warm sun, and a gentle breeze made sitting on the deck a wonderful experience. Just as it started to get too warm a few clouds would drift by providing shade for a few minutes then back to sun. This variation allowed us to enjoy staying out on the deck for over an hour. It’s happening slowly but the warm weather is arriving.

It seems there is a rhythm that has appeared with the weather. Some days are overcast, chilly with occasional rain. Those are followed by partly or mostly sunny and warm days. Today was a mixture of partly sunny but a touch on the chilly side. Well, enough is enough so we got out the Mustang for a spin. It was really nice to take a Sunday afternoon type drive around the backroads with the top down. Things are starting to green up which made the trip even more fun. We compensated for the slight chill with a bit of warmth from the heater, which is quite good being it is in a convertible. I see quite a few more days this summer where the Mustang is on the road. The downside is the competing events during our all too short summer. Still, it is nice to have those choices.

As if on cue, the National Weather Service has issued a cold water warning. Lake Champlain’s temperature is in the 40’s and the adjoining waterways are running about the same. We are due for some high winds over the next few days making the water quite choppy. Between the wind and choppy water there is a good chance that smaller, and some larger, watercraft have a good chance of being swamped or flipping over dumping people into that cold water. Being immersed in water some 50 degrees below body temperature would be quite dangerous. So no kayaking this week. OK, dealing with that reality but it won’t be long before the urge becomes overpowering. Time for it to warm up.

It is kind of weird out right now. It is overcast yet there is still some light out so it doesn’t seem totally gloomy. The weird part is the almost dead calm. Not even the treetops are moving. Kind of brings the old adage of the quiet before the storm to mind. Fast forward about an hour, the waves on Lake Champlain picked up but the wind in the trees stayed low. It wasn’t until around 6 this morning that we had a pretty heavy rain for about 30 minutes. After that the sun poked through a couple of times and it warmed up but no more rain, at least not yet.

We have been in Vermont for 4 years now and are just now starting to range further afield. Part of the reason we moved here was to explore the northeast and while not comprehensive we have had a good look around. It is now time to open up our travel and touch some former bases. While we are both retired we still have active lives so finding a two week stretch where we can both go visit the west coast was difficult to do in the short term. Seeing that we need to do some long range planning, we will be looking at opportunities to block out time for visits. Until then though, Liz had the chance to visit now so we jumped on the chance. Liz will be enjoying the California weather for a bit and hopefully by the time she returns summer will have shown up here. We will see.

That Was April 2019

 

Our backyard bunny, Benedict Arnold’s monument mostly under water, North Carolina beaver, view from Chimney Rock State Park, goats, case in Asheville loaded with a lot of gluten free yummies.

April Fool’s Day is the joke we were prepared for as the high temperature is barely into the 30’s. Very funny Mother Nature! Lake Champlain had some open water but even with the temperatures hitting the 50’s after the 1st, a thin layer of ice returned. Speculation is the water was still around freezing and the wind blowing across it caused the ice to return. As we get further into April the ice is starting to give way though.

Good news about the café near our gym that had closed. Someone has decided to give it a go so it will be reopening around mid-May. It will be nice to once again be able to enjoy a cup of coffee after my workout. It is also nice to see a local business making a comeback.

Ever ask yourself ‘What are the odds of that’? When we lived in California I mostly commuted by bicycle. Occasionally I would take the major roads but my favorite route would be through the neighborhoods. Every once in a while I would come across a car backing out of its driveway as I was passing and I thought about the odds of that. Well, with the congestion of the Bay Area the odds were actually pretty good as I must have passed over 100 driveways. All that said, we now live in a rural area where in comparison congestion is almost nonexistent. A bit of information about our current area. Sidewalks are relegated to the larger towns, well, larger for Vermont. In the smaller towns and country roads there are no sidewalks and for the most part no shoulders either. Now, being a rural area that makes sense as we don’t have a lot of pedestrians but do have the odd walker, jogger or bicycler. One would think there was not much of an issue passing them because it seems there are relatively few other cars on the road. That is what one would think. I have counted the number of times I have come across a walker, jogger, or bicycler and had to slowdown or stop while an oncoming car passed and guess what. Over 3/4th of the time I had to slowdown or stop. What’s up with that? I wish I had those kind of odds with the lotto!

We are five days into April and it looks like Lake Champlain is finally starting to lose its icy covering, starting with the thin layer that had reformed a few days ago. By around noon we noticed a wide swath on the Vermont side of the lake had opened. It was difficult to tell because it is about two miles away but there may have been open water on the New York side a few days ago. The watercourses have been clear for over a week now, except a few small pockets in protected bays. That ice is very thin though as can be seen by the occasional goose or duck whose weight is not being supported by it. It doesn’t seem like a traumatic event as it would if we went through because they just start swimming about.

Well Friday night held something of a surprise. Just before 10 PM I had a look outside and we had about ½ an inch of snow on the deck. What in the world is that all about? On Saturday morning we slept in until about 8 AM and when I looked outside all the snow was gone. I guess a reminder that winter has just not given up yet. I was looking at changing out our snow tires on the Subaru but after last night I will wait for a while longer.

The lake looks to be fully open now so we were enjoying our morning cup of coffee and looking out at gentle ripples on the water. It was this time the local rabbit we haven’t seen in a while chose to come hopping into our yard. The rabbit’s brown and white fur matched the ground making it somewhat difficult to see. I did get a few pictures of it though.

I mentioned in an earlier post the geese have returned and some other birds have returned as well. Another arrival I just saw was an osprey. There is a large nest just south of here that they occupy from about now through the onset of cold weather. The osprey that flew by was pretty large. I did get a picture of it but it went by so fast it is blurry. Still it shows just how big it is.

Now that the weather is warming, though slowly, we figure it is time for another trip. More than just a day trip as well. Day trips are fine but the area covered is limited so we are looking to branch out. The spot we have picked is North Carolina.

The weather might not be fully cooperating but the signs of spring are still popping up. On a drive past the osprey nest today we saw that two of them had taken possession of it. If the pattern follows past years by the end of May there should be at least one and possibly more osprey fuzzballs. The nest has been around for a while and like some other ‘homes’ here it is vacant in winter. I guess these two osprey can really take the moniker of Snow Birds. I cannot say for sure but I have a feeling these two are the same pair from last year, or at least offspring of the pair that resided there when we got here.

A funny part about Lake Champlain being ice free is it is a temporal state. The ice on the lake in front of us has disappeared but there are still patches elsewhere. It becomes obvious when the wind blows from the north and we see patches of ice from up that way floating by. And then the wind changes direction and the ice patches that went by earlier, although a bit smaller than before, head back the other way. This should be a short-lived thing as both the air and water warm up causing the ice to finally go away, at least until winter returns.

It is only 45 degrees out but the skies are clear blue and the sun is warm which is bringing on a bout of spring fever. This is one malady I don’t mind experiencing. This coming Saturday, the 13th, we are supposed to hit close to 70 degrees. Looking forward to that.

Not only did it get to 70 degrees but we had mostly sunny skies so we broke out the deckchairs. It was fantastic to lounge in the sun and we even started to fall asleep. Good thing we didn’t because, even with the sun still not fully overhead, we probably would have gotten a sunburn so after about 30 minutes we came back inside. We did another short turn on the deck after a while and did it feel good. That spring fever feeling has ramped up even higher and are looking forward to basking in the sun as time goes on. The wind has picked up a bit and since the lake is now ice free we can see some whitecaps. Yup, summer is coming. There have been a lot of gulls using the wind to glide by and then the local eagle made a pass by. Too quickly to get a picture but it was good to see. As an added bonus the two local osprey also made a pass, again too quickly to get a picture but hopefully in the future we will get some photos later on.

Our trip to North Carolina was wonderful. After a long, chilly northeast winter it was amazing to see what spring looks like. The trees are all leafed out, greenery abounds, and it is warm. When we left Vermont there was a light set of flurries as a northeast sendoff. Spring-like weather will not be arriving in Vermont for a few more weeks, or maybe a month, or more. Visiting family was a real treat and reminded us we have to do that more often.

Another treat during our trip to North Carolina was seeing a family of beavers. There is a nature area along a creek where the beavers have taken up residence. It is only a 10 minute or so walk from our relatives’ house so we were able to visit the beavers a few times. Living in Vermont I would have thought I would have seen beavers here but the North Carolina encounter was our first. We have seen beaver dams and lodges but are still looking for a local beaver. We did have a short meeting with some otters during a kayak paddle but it has been a while

Anyway, we are back in Vermont and it is already a couple of days into May so it is time to publish this post. Next post, the end of May.

There Goes March

Feathered breakfast club on the deck. Snowy woods. Sunrise on the way to the gym. Mid-March ‘light’ dusting. Stare down with a furry monster. Feathered friends waiting for their morning repast. Acrobatic furry monster.

It’s already March, well, if you are reading this March is pretty well over but it has just started as I write this. Of course it is just a line on a calendar that we crossed over from February but it seems to help knowing time is moving on. March 1st doesn’t look much different from February 28th but it is closer to warm weather.

Some two decades ago the company I used to work for decided to try a program with the local university to have some of us return to school. Five of us in the program formed a bond that stuck and we stayed in touch for a long time. Since I moved to Vermont some 4 years ago I mostly lost touch with the ‘team’. Well, recently I found an email from one of the team in my inbox. It brought back good memories and we traded a small flurry of emails. While not as frequent as our contact used to be, I intend to stay in touch every couple of months at most.

Saturday night we were all settled in at home having dinner and watching the local news. The weatherperson was happily telling us the big snowstorm that was headed our way had moved south and we would probably only get about 1, maybe 2, inches of snow Sunday night instead of the 6 to 10 that might have come our way. OK, no big deal. Around 7:30 PM I decided to take out the trash. Turning on the outside light, it is still getting dark around 6, I was surprised to see we had about 2 inches of snow on our deck. The weatherperson had not mentioned anything about it until the 10 PM broadcast so I guess it was a bit of a surprise for them as well. Still, the predicted snow is not supposed to arrive until later on Sunday which makes watching the gentle falling flakes kind of surreal. Even though this has been a long winter there is something pleasing about watching snow fall.

We had finally gotten back into our normal this past week but it did seem busy. Up early going to the gym, getting groceries, and a couple of other errands had us out and about.  Being this morning was Sunday we decided to sleep in. We are usually up early so sleeping in means getting up around 7:30 or so to get the day rolling. Rolling usually entails making the first cup of espresso, taking vitamins, getting breakfast and feeding the birds and today getting the Sunday paper. We only get the Sunday paper as it seems to help keep the TV off on Sundays. Notice I said it was about 7:30 when this process got started. It is usually started an hour and a half earlier around 6 AM. Well, with the light snow we had Saturday night I decided to wait until I was headed out to get the paper to shovel the deck. When I opened the door there were bird tracks all over the deck and even up to and around the door. It was like they were saying, “Hey, where’s our breakfast?!” I had a good laugh and should have taken a picture of it but, not having my espresso yet it didn’t cross my mind until after I had shoveled off the deck. It was a light, powdery snow so it only took a minute to shovel. The downside with powdery snow is the birdseed just sinks into it so the birds, and furry monsters, have to dig it out. To give them a break I spread the seed on the deck I had just cleared off. We had our normal 2 dozen or so visitors and they made short work of the seed.

For some reason at the beginning of fall I put our juicer away. I can’t remember now why I did that but it might have been something to do with thinking cold weather means no more juice drinks. Looking back on it that is a bit of flawed thinking. Anyway, the juicer came out of storage and we have added juicing back into our routine. Years ago when we first started juicing it took a bit of trial and error to hit on a basic recipe we liked. That recipe has carrots, celery, ginger, garlic, apple, a leafy green and parsley. Parsley should be an easy one but I remember one time a few years ago when I was quite distracted I grabbed the cilantro instead of the parsley. As you probably know cilantro has quite a burst of flavor compared to parsley. That made for quite an eye opening drink and needless to say it never happened again. Especially since I am not a fan of cilantro. I have heard some folks like the taste but to others it tastes like soap. I am in that second category.

March in Vermont is time for Town Meeting to occur. I am sure I have mentioned Town Meeting in the past but it has been a while. With a town of around 677 residents these meetings exemplify grassroots democracy. I believe some find going to Town Meeting is a bit of a chore but I find it quite interesting. There is an old quote attributed to Otto von Bismarck conflating the workings of government with the making of sausage. You might like both but should not see them being made. Things have changed, at least in the sausage making business since Upton Sinclair shined a light on the meat industry. Things there have gotten better, well, for humans that is. As for the workings of government I think the jury may still be out but the local processes are pretty good. Anyway, I do enjoy being part of the local process and watching the wheels turn. For the most part political party is not an issue at this level. In fact, I could do not know what political party most of the town officials belong to, and it doesn’t matter. There are some lively discussions but rarely any disparagement of one’s opponent, which is frowned upon as well as being out of bounds. Basically I find it an uplifting time because people are getting involved.

There are times when it is relaxing to just stare out at Lake Champlain, even when it is frozen over. This morning was one of those times. Partly sunny skies, patches of blue with billowy clouds, very light wind, and an occasional snowflake. As I was lost in in non-thought something looked different. I then became aware there were two snowmobilers motoring down the lake about 100 yards out.

Town Meeting was on the 4th and voting on the 5th went well. I had an interest in the results as I was on the ballot for one of the town auditor positions. The results came back pretty quickly because on the 6th I received a message from our town clerk that I have been reelected. Not really a huge surprise as people are not falling over each other for the position. I’m not sure how many votes I got but when the results are posted I will let you know. My other volunteer position as Emergency Management Coordinator is an appointed position so no issues there. One of the major issues that came up during the meeting was the requirement for fog lines on the side of the road if the speed limit on our major roads stays at 45 mph. The state set that requirement so the issue came up about changing the limit to 40. I was sure that would cause a major issue but it turns out it is the fog lines. They are required to be repainted every year at a cost of around $8k. The repainting cost was a bigger issue than lowering the speed limit. Of course most drivers exceed the 45 mph limit anyway so lowering it to 40 probably won’t matter, except on the days the sheriff sets up a speed trap that is. The surrounding towns have set their limit on connecting roads to 40 so my town is the one off there. Anyway, I expect to see the limit reduced sometime in the near future. It is not a big issue for me as I do my best to keep within the limit although at times I do find myself pushing it a bit.

OK, raise your hand if you got up at 2 AM to set your clock forward? With all the smart devices these days it is almost past even bothering to set one’s clock at all. Although there are still a few older devices that do need adjustment. And for Vermont, even those devices may not need to be adjusted. One of the things the state legislature is dabbling with is to dump the time change and just stay on the same time all year long. I haven’t heard if standard time will become the standard or if savings time will be but I have a feeling it will be standard time. Although with the free spirits who live in Vermont, who knows.

This coming Friday the weather forecast shows we will hit the upper 50’s but then drop back into a more normal March with temperatures reaching the high 30’s and low 40’s. Still we are, slowly, headed toward warmer weather. Warmer weather is something of a tough thought this morning though as it is in the 20’s and snowing. It is supposed to clear up by this afternoon which is good as we are headed to a Bach concert at Middlebury College. We have been to a couple of musical events at Middlebury College and have enjoyed them. And because our ‘smart’ clocks set themselves ahead this morning we are not worried about being late. An update on the Bach concert: We really enjoyed it.

Still having a touch of trouble getting to the gym at our normal time after the time change. After late December the sunrise started arriving earlier so getting up earlier was easier because it was light out. The time change put getting up earlier back into the darker part of the morning. We are still making it to the gym but for now it is a bit later than before. As the daylight period gets longer it will get easier to get back to making it to the gym at our normal time. Going later seems to throw off the entire day making the day feel a bit rushed.

Today, about half way through March, we are hitting 60 degrees. It won’t last but for now it is a nice taste of what is coming. The highs will be dropping back down to the 40’s for St. Paddy’s day and for the next fortnight although we know things will be warming up. Odd fact. Did you know that Earth’s orbit brings our planet closer to the sun during our winter? It is the tilt of the Earth that causes our winter. Anyway, on our way to the gym this morning we saw another harbinger of the coming warm weather. A flock of geese flew over, honking away. The return of the geese is a happy event for us. While a lot of the lakes and streams are still frozen over there is some open water and more of it is appearing each day. The furry monsters are getting more active and it is amazing to see them get out to the end of those tiny tree branches to get at the buds popping out.

Wow, how different things are. The sun came out and the temperature was playing with hitting 60. Liz and I sat out on the deck taking in this glorious day and making some vitamin D. We have the heat off, the windows open to let fresh air in, the shades are up letting in the sun, and we are on the deck in t-shirts. It wasn’t that long ago if the temperature was in the 50’s we would have had on heavier clothes and moaning about it. It has been such a long time since we were out in the bright sun I mused at the thought of getting a sunburn. I can see that happening with such happy feelings of seeing the old yellow ball and forgetting to take care. It will be a while yet before summer arrives but we took advantage of what felt like warm weather.

Saturday the temperature dropped a bit with the highs reaching into the upper 30’s and the lows dropping below freezing. It is supposed to be that way for a few more days followed by a gradual warming trend. Towards the end of the month we will be back into the 50’s for the highs and just above freezing for the lows. Summer is coming. While Lake Champlain still has a layer of ice on it we should see some open water soon. By the end of April we should be able to get our kayaks in the water. Uh oh, starting to think about summer fun. As if winter is saying hold your horses there partner, I’m not done yet, there is a very light snow falling. Oh well, still dreaming of warmer weather.

OK, winter is sticking its oar back in the mix. We are getting snow for St. Pat’s day. Not a lot of snow but enough to provide a light covering. And that light covering is softening the look of the fields that had been exposed by the rain and warmer weather. It will be a short respite but still a welcome one.

I recently got a pleasant surprise. I have mentioned before that for the past three years I have volunteered to be one of the Santas for the local holiday party. My Santa suit only gets used for one day a year so for the most part it is out of sight, out of mind. At the beginning of March I found the suit hanging in the back closet and it should probably get laundered. So Liz and I took it to our regular cleaners. When I went to pick it up the lady behind the counter handed me the suit and said “Merry Christmas, no charge”. They clean Santa suits for free. It is a nice gesture and perked up my day.

On Wednesday we had a couple of early appointments in Burlington. The up side is we get to spend some time in Burlington. The downside is it will be an early morning for us, a very early morning. Back to the upside, we completed our errands and were back home by just after noon even after taking the long way home. As an added bonus we got to see Oliver on the way up. Just in case it has been too long since I have mentioned just who Oliver is, he is a two hump camel that hangs out with sheep at a local farm next to the highway. We figured Oliver is there to protect the sheep from predators. Having a ‘protector’ animal is used a lot but are usually dogs, donkeys, or even alpacas but this is the only camel we know of in this region. Tomorrow we take the Mustang to the shop for its spring checkup/inspection and the plus there is the shop is only about 200 yards from our gym. OK, the lake is still frozen but it won’t be long before we have the Mustang back on the road. The fly in the ointment there is the 4 some inches of snow predicted for this weekend. Winter is just not ready to let go yet but the warmer days are coming. That also means we will be changing from snow tires to the all-weather tires on the Subaru. The thing is we have to get new tires so it won’t be just a swap out. Looks like we will need new snow tires next winter but that is a ways off for now. If one can think of 5 or 6 months as a ways off. Since we only drive the Mustang during the warmer months snow tires are not needed for it.

On the 20th spring arrived, but in name only. On the 21st we got a weather warning. 2 to 6 inches of heavy wet snow, hazardous driving conditions, and high winds are all expected. Along with all that, some possible power outages just to make things interesting. In any case, it is just a lucky happenstance we picked Thursday to get the Mustang inspected as the rain that had started on Thursday night turned into a wet, gloppy snow by Friday morning. When we left for the gym there was already an inch of snow on the ground but the roads were in decent shape although we still had to be careful. After our workout there was another two inches of snow on our car in the gym parking lot. By the time we got home we had about 4 inches on our deck. Later on in the day it warmed up a bit so most of that snow melted.

Saturday’s weather was something of a repeat of Friday. There was a light covering of snow and the temperature was in the teens. Being Saturday is a day off from our gym we slept in a bit. The reason I say a bit is because we normally don’t sleep past 7 AM, and usually earlier than that. Even though it is not a gym day we do have to take our trash in. There are two times a week the transfer station is open, Wednesday and Saturday. On Wednesdays it is open from 2 PM to 6 PM and on Saturdays from 8 AM to Noon. We don’t need to take our trash in often, about once every week or two. After dropping off our trash we had no other errands so we plan to goof off the rest of the weekend. The cloud cover is breaking up and there is blue sky over the Adirondacks. With all the snow around the patch of blue looks quite nice and the sunlight hitting the peaks is really a sight to see. The days are getting longer and it is slowly warming up. It will take a while before we can comfortably sit on our deck and enjoy the sunny days but I can feel it coming. Looking forward to it. We should be getting the warmer weather sometime in April.

Sunset today, the second to last Sunday, is now occurring around 7:10 PM. In December it occurs around 4:15 PM which is quite a difference. More so that the sunrise. In December the sun rises around 7:30 AM while now it is rising around 6:45 AM. In June, the longest days of light, sunrise is around 5 AM and sunset is around 8:45 PM. Those are some long days. Anyway, we have had cloudy skies for a while but the blue has been starting to poke through a lot more lately. Last night I took out the trash around 8:30 PM and noticed the sky was totally clear and full of stars. This morning we have beautiful blue skies with only a couple of clouds hanging around the peaks of the Adirondacks. It gives one an uplifting feeling even though it is still chilly, about 15 degrees. It is supposed to hit the high 40’s later today and we intend to take a stroll down to the town beach just to get outside. Otter Creek, don’t know why they call it a creek as it is a fair size, is totally free of ice now although it will be at least another month before we can do any kayaking on it. Lake Champlain is still frozen over but the ice should start disappearing there as well in the near future.

Geese! The geese are returning! In the past few days we have seen loads of geese. It must be in the 100’s of them. Flying in V formations and hanging around the newly ice free waters. And last night about 8 PM we stepped out on the deck to see the stars. As I have mentioned in the past it is very quiet here. Well we heard this somewhat distant murmur and it took us a moment to realize it was geese. There are again loads of them in Button Bay about a ¼ mile up the way and even at night they are ‘talking’ to each other. Sure we have the slowly warming temperatures, disappearing snow, ice starting to melt, sunny days but what really brings spring to mind is the honking of the geese. We have also noticed Red Winged Blackbirds joining the mix of Wrens, Tits, Doves, Cardinals and Blue Jays now arriving for breakfast. All this seems to brush away the blues of a winter that has stayed a bit too long.

It was nice seeing the sun but the wet weather has started to arrive. We will be getting a couple of partly sunny days in the next two weeks but rain will be the major event, at least according to the long range forecast. And a couple more dips in the temperature but it is slowly getting warmer. I am already thinking about doing some hiking, picnics, kayaking, and other summer events. We are still thinking of taking the train to Montreal and spending a couple of days there. Not sure when just yet but at least we are thinking about it. Although today it is a bit warmer but the clouds have moved in making the day a grey one. Seeing the sun the past couple of days heightened my spirits so I am looking forward to seeing more sunny days.

As March winds down we are getting more spring like days. There are a few partly sunny days ahead but mostly rain is being predicted. It looks like we may be able to start putting our deep winter coats away but will need to pull out our raingear. Well, if that is what it takes before we get some warmer weather, so be it.

Last day of March is quite overcast with rain on and off. The temperature is hitting the mid-50’s with only slight winds although with the moisture in the air it feels a bit colder. The forecast shows the high being in the mid-50’s for the next 10 days with one exception. It will be in the 30’s on April First. Yup, Mother Nature is pranking us.

That Was February of 2019

WildcameraIMG_0810IMG_0821IMG_0843North Hero Lights

Birds gathering for breakfast. Lake Champlain frozen over. Furry monster contemplating options. A bit of snow the next day where the furry monster was. LEDs under the ice on Lake Champlain.

“Oh! We’re having a heatwave, a tropical heatwave”. With apologies to Irving Berlin. We didn’t get the horrific negative temperatures hitting the upper Midwest but our lows with wind chill did dip into the negative 20’s. By Monday we are slated to hit almost 40 degrees, therefore the song about a heatwave. It was still a bitter cold on Friday, 1 February, so the birds and furry monsters were not out and about early. Saturday was a bit warmer but the wind was still piercing. Sunday pretty much mirrored Saturday so going from bundled up over the weekend to getting out the sun tan lotion, almost.

Monday brought a slew of happenings. We did head up into the 40’s and it felt strangely warm, well, warm for this area. The sun also showed up for a bit and was a welcome visitor. It made heading for the gym a bit easier as we didn’t have to brace against the minus 20’s. We were a touch later than our normal time but no big deal. As we passed by our little café on the way to the gym we were stunned to see it was closed. Not just for the day but shutdown until new owners are found. The café space and equipment belong to the owners of the building who rent the fully equipped space out. The folks who until recently ran it found it wasn’t working for them so they didn’t renew their lease. I was really sorry to see them and the cafe go. It is a sad day for me but impact for the folks who worked there is more important. Then there are the other folks who worked in the building and frequented the café. It was quite convenient to have it there but now the closest place is at least half a mile away. That might not sound like much of a deal but a quick break for coffee, fresh baked pastry, or a local lunch has now become more of an effort. As for me, I was spoiled by being able to get a cup of coffee after my morning workout by having the cafe inside the same building. For now I will just head back home for my espresso rather than having to make a stop along the way. Hopefully someone will pick up the lease and put the café back into service.

Strange how sometimes things work out. There was a meeting tonight I needed to attend for one of my volunteer positions with our town. As luck would have it I picked up a bug over the weekend. Just as I was sending a message to the organizer I got a message that it had been postponed due to inclement weather. Now where did I leave those lotto tickets?

What is with the weather? It was in the teens over the weekend, hit the 40’s Monday and Tuesday, down to the 20’s on Wednesday, then back into the 40’s for Thursday and Friday. Cloudy and grey to sunny and blue the back to cloudy and grey, green grass that gets covered with snow only to show through again. And now we are under a weather watch for freezing rain and sleet. Sheesh! I wanted seasons but not 3 out of 4 of them every 3 weeks! OK, enough of the moaning.

For some reason I was puttering around in the garage. It was one of those times I couldn’t remember why I was out there, which are getting a bit more frequent, but it did bring to mind I need to fire up the Mustang for a bit. I don’t know if that is a real thing but I don’t want to let it sit for six months without running it. Good thing I have a battery charger because its battery was flat as a pancake. I should probably also take it for a spin around the block but it would have to be a nice day, which it was although cold. And I need to make sure I take the battery pack with me just in case. Oh, never mind. I just let it sit in the driveway and run for a bit as it was best not to leave it running in the garage.

I think I will change things up and talk about the weather. Sigh. Again, the weather is inserting itself into the conversation. Friends in Seattle mentioned they just got lambasted by an unusual winter storm. Even in our former stomping grounds around the San Francisco Bay Area, snow is being reported on the peaks around the area and shutting down higher elevation roads. Negative temperatures falling into the -40 hit the Midwest along with strangeness in the southeast. While we have a cold but sunny day today, the National Weather Service has issued a storm warning for Tuesday through Wednesday that will bring sleet, high wind, and some 6 to 12 inches of snow. The 15 inches we had just over 10 days ago is down to around 2 inches, with a lot of bare patches, after the warm temperatures and rain of the past few days. Lake Champlain has stayed frozen over and I have even seen ice fishermen out there on the ice. It seems like a mixture of the boredom of fishing matched with the trepidation of plunging through the ice all while slowly becoming hypothermic. OK, it’s pretty obvious Ice fishing is not something I have ever been interested in so therefore my snarky explanation about it. I would guess when this big storm hits there won’t be many folks out there but the day after, that is a different story.

Because of the big storm coming in, I gave going to the gym this morning a miss to go to our co-op to stock up on standard items. We do have supplies to use during an emergency but we like to keep things as normal as possible. I’ve also got a good book I need to get back to and being told to stay inside sounds like a good time to get back to that book. I used to read a lot of fiction but over the years have become much more interested in non-fiction, most of which is about the history around the founding of our country. From what is reported to have gone on at that time, I find it astounding things turned out the way it did. Conversely, I would also have found it astounding not to have turned out as it did. Just to give an example, have a read of how Ethen Allen and the Green Mountain Boys captured Fort Ticonderoga, and the days that followed. Here is a quick overview. At sunrise on a day in early May, 1775, the GMB’s pounded on the door, roused the commander who was shocked at the situation, and then surrendered the fort with only one minor injury occurring on the GMB’s side. Shortly afterwards the GMB’s found a storehouse of ‘medicinal spirits’, aka liquor, which was plundered to the maximum extent. Wow.

The sunrise Tuesday lit up the peaks of the Adirondacks across Lake Champlain. It was quite a nice sight but a few minutes later the cloud cover took over and the light faded. In a few hours we will be getting that major storm but we are ready for it. In an odd sort of way I am kind of looking forward to it. We don’t plan to go anywhere so no worries about driving or needing to go somewhere. I might just bundle up and have a stroll out during the snowy part of the storm. Then again I might make another espresso instead.

Speaking of espresso, I started my day in the usual way. I went into the kitchen, measured out the coffee beans and started grinding. It was my first cup of espresso, the one that gets me up to speed in the mornings. As I was cranking the grinder I was staring out the kitchen window. There were several of our feathered friends in the branches of the cedars watching my every move. What’s up with that? It then hit me. I had forgotten to put out the morning seed. I immediately corrected that error to the joy of the birds who flocked to the deck after the seed was spread. A couple of furry monsters also joined in the morning ritual.

As the morning wore on the skies got slowly greyer and the day grew darker. It was also extremely calm, even the tiny branches at the top of the trees were very still as if they were a painting. It really exemplifies the old adage of the calm before the storm. I was going to mention there were no ripples on Lake Champlain and then the espresso sprang into action and I remembered the lake is frozen over.

Here comes the storm. In the last 10 minutes we can no longer see the New York coast of Lake Champlain. About 30 minutes ago a very fine, light snow started to fall. While the snow particles are still small, as time progresses the snowfall rate has gotten heavier and the temperature has dropped a couple of degrees to around 16. And the National Weather Service has issued another warning. Condensing it down it says prepare for a lot of snow, don’t drive, hunker down but they forgot to say drink espresso!

We are getting a lot of snow. It has been snowing continuously since about 3 PM yesterday. Some of the snowfall was light, some was heavier but luckily we haven’t seen a lot of sleet or ice. Although that is still in the forecast as it is supposed to be warming up. By around 4 PM it will be in the mid-thirties before dropping back below freezing for overnight. So while it was suggested folks should limit their driving, which is still a good idea, the conditions are not extremely bad – yet. The warming followed by freezing is still a concern. Other areas have been hit with more dangerous conditions which goes to show again Panton seems to be in an area that is a bit more protected. It is still snowing pretty heavily though. The deck got shoveled off around 8 AM and now, around 9:30, it has some 2 inches back on it. And visibility is below 100 yards.

Thursday brought sunny blue skies with billowy white clouds hanging low over the Adirondacks. There is still snow on the ground but the trees on the Adirondacks are hiding most of it. The open patches do show a fair amount of snow dotted through the mountains though. Lake Champlain looks like a huge blanket of snow which is pretty but kind of eerie. I still would not go out on the lake but I still see others who do to go fishing. Just south of here a guy decided to drive his truck out on the lake and it didn’t end well, sorry to say.

Now that my cold seems to have finally loosened up its grip on me, I am thinking of returning to the gym on Friday. It has been over a week since I have been there and I’m really needing to get back. The weather has also been less than accommodating to just be out and about but my cold was the biggest issue. It is strange how long it takes to get back up to speed at the gym when it takes just a short time to regress. Another reason to get back to it.

Even though today is President’s Day, our gym opened at the regular time. I did make it to the gym on Friday and then again today. It felt good to return and get back to a normal routine. We encountered a light snow this morning, as predicted. What wasn’t predicted was the three inches that followed. It was a fine, powdery snow so even a light wind brought visibility down quite a bit. By 11 AM the sky started clearing and the first rays of sun showed up. It is still cold out, around 15 degrees before wind chill, but we decided we were not going to be kept indoors. A couple of years ago we got two inner tubes for floating around on and thought what the heck. We bundled up, loaded them up and headed to the local sledding hill. It didn’t take long to find out the inner tubes didn’t do well in powdery snow. Well, at least we tried. The only option was to return home and make a couple of espressos so there was a positive aspect to the day. Maybe if we get an ice covering on the snow we can try again, or not.

The walls have closed in to the point we decided to take a break. We booked a room in Burlington for a night. There are several nice hotels in Burlington that all provide close access to the downtown area but there is one that is something of a favorite for us. The rooms are always clean, they have a fireplace in the lobby, there is a small restaurant on site, and the folks are friendly. So we packed an overnight bag and headed up to Burlington. We tried to stay out of our favorite chocolate shop while there, but didn’t try very hard. They make a dark chocolate espresso cup fill with espresso ganache and topped with a roasted coffee bean. While I don’t actively look for this treat I don’t ever pass it up either. We also found a nice tea shop, yes I drink tea on occasion, and had an afternoon tea with a couple of associated gluten free edibles. In fact, we had enough associated edibles we didn’t even need dinner. We strolled around the downtown for a bit and then headed back to the hotel to sit by the fire for a bit. It was then off to the room for a good night’s sleep. The next morning we had breakfast at the hotel, hit the local food co-op we used to frequent when we lived up that way. It was then an easy drive home and back to our routine.

Winter’s snow and ice can and does last a long time up this way. One can mope around inside grumbling about it. Or one can find ways to roll with it. There are the standard things like ice fishing, which really doesn’t appeal to us. Then there is ice skating, snowshoeing, cross country skiing and other winter sports. Then there is something that takes it up a level. A general store known as Hero’s Welcome, the story about that name in the future, is located on the shore of Lake Champlain with direct access to the lake and this time of year, the ice. They cut a small groove in the ice and fed Christmas lights into the groove then covered it back up. At night the lights come on creating a lightshow under the ice. It makes the skating rink that was made on the surface of the lake even that much more fun.

Had an errand to run in Middlebury Thursday so decided to go to our main gym there. About a year ago we used to go twice a week, Wednesday and Sunday, but have not done that in a while. When I got there early Thursday the pool was totally open so I decided it was time to return to the water. In the past I was able to do over 100 lengths in an hour. With the level of aerobics I am now doing I figured while I might not be able to hit my old level I should be able to make a good showing. Well, after 30 minutes I had finished just 30 lengths and was huffing and puffing like an old steam engine. I am now eyeing adding some pool time back into my routine. I’ll let you know how that works out.

Hello 2019

Redbird waiting for breakfast. Sunset over the Adirondacks. Merganser flock just hanging around on the lake before it froze. Some before and after snow photos. A bit of digging to get the car out. Darth Raven (look close, you’ll see it). Lake Champlain frozen over.

Resolutions? Yeah, right. We all know how long those last! Although there is one thing related to this blog I would like to do better. Grammar and spelling. OK, that’s two but hey, take it in the spirit in which it was meant.

There was a New Year’s Day stroll through our local state park with the Audubon folks starting at 9 AM that we had planned to go on. Well you know what they say about the best laid plans. We didn’t make it. While the temperature got up to around 40 and the sky was only mostly cloudy, there was a fair amount of rain overnight so a lot of moisture was in the air making it feel colder. The trails were most likely somewhat gloppy as well. To top it off, our gym is closed today so goofing off is the order of the day. I had my first espresso of the New Year while watching the big billowy clouds slowly drift by. I don’t usually go for trying to name thing but to just look at them for enjoyment. There are exceptions which are obvious like Cardinal Red Birds, Blue Jays, Skunks, Foxes, etc. but those are kind of on the obvious side. Knowing that the type of the big clouds drifting by are stratocumulus doesn’t add to the enjoyment of the moment for me. And while I am not sure of the name of clouds that portend rain, I know what they look like so there is that.

The wind has picked up this morning making the lake water quite choppy. Just on the edge of forming whitecaps. It has been cold enough for a thin layer of ice to form on some of the coves but it will take some really cold times to freeze the lake by us. Otter Creek, the one that runs through Vergennes and over the falls there, had ice on it last week. Not the normal smooth like surface but quite rough. Of course I didn’t have my camera with me and by the time I got home I forgot about it but I will endeavor to get a picture of it. Because of the warm weather and rain we have been having the ice has broken up for now.

One of the volunteer jobs I do for our town is Emergency Management. We didn’t have one for a while so there is a lot of groundwork to make up. Every town in Vermont is required to have certain positions filled and if no one steps forward to do them the town council chair has to do it. Since the chair is doing several jobs at once it is tough to give each one the time it needs. One of the first things I did was take a video of every pubic road. That way if something happens to the road it is easier to compare before and after. There are also a number of culverts running under the public roads so I am in the process of taking still pictures of all of those. We have about 21 miles of road in Panton and over a hundred culverts. I have already started on taking the pictures but have a long way to go. As an added bonus, I am also noting the location of all our fire hydrants. We have a water fresh water line that runs through the town so we are lucky there. Being a fairly rural state there are not water lines everywhere. To make up for that ponds, creeks and rivers have pipes installed in them so the fire department can draw water from them. Of course there are some drawbacks such and making sure the water source is not seasonal. There is more to this job but I think you get the idea. I will go into my other volunteer job of being one of the three town auditors sometime in the future when I feel like you need some sleep.

The forecast showed a range from zero snow to a light dusting over Wednesday night. This morning I shoveled 2 inches of the light dusting off our deck and sidewalk. Not a lot of snow though we need at least a foot or so to be able to use our snowshoes. It has been snowing very lightly on and off so far today but I am wondering how long the new snow will last as we are supposed to get into the high 30s today and into the 40s tomorrow. The long range forecast is back to showing we should have some 5 to 8 inches of accumulation starting sometime late next week. Still kind of on the light side to snowshoe but at least we can hike through it. A side benefit of getting snow is seeing the animal tracks in it. There seems to be a bit of activity overnight and it would be fun to know what animals are visiting. We can pick out the tracks of the usual suspects like rabbits but there are some we can only guess at. Well, being nosy about what is going on at night I am thinking of putting up a trail camera. If I actually get around to doing that I will let you know.

OK, I got around to doing it. Because we are not going to be on PBS or whatever we got a low end trail camera. Still, it takes some pretty nice photos and videos. The first night out we captured a couple of seconds of a fox on the video and another animal that looked something like a cat. It was a touch far away at night so not like a documentary but we were still able to see what it was. I am still working on finding a good location for the camera but things look promising for getting some nice pictures and videos of wildlife.

Even though the days are getting slowly longer, the sun is still pretty low in the sky. At noon, when the sun actually come out, the shadows are fairly long. Of course during the summer we get the flipside with long sunny days with the sun overhead. Anyway, with the mostly cloudy days we have been having, low sunlight and short days it makes staying awake during the day a bit tougher. So, why fight it? I think I am going to rename this nap season.

Night three of the trail cam experience. It appears not a lot went on last night, or the night before either, except a pair of glowing eyes that appeared for less than half a second from under a bush. I guess the first night the camera was out was the teaser. It did capture several birds and a couple of squirrels so all was not lost. Now that I know the camera works it is time to just mount it to a specific spot and let it go for a week or so. Checking it every morning is too often. Still looking for the optimal place to mount it but it is quite easy to move so a week at a time in different places sounds about right.

Sunday arrived as another cloudy, gloomy day and it looks like what is in store for us for the next few days. There are some light flurries continuing on and off throughout the day. At the same time the wind is flipping between calm and moderately blowing. The only activity is a few birds hopping around the deck and what looks like just one squirrel who lost his car keys. Some birds have taken up a perch in the bare trees and only move when that squirrel decides he needs to transit that spot. It was kind of an odd sight watching the birds just sitting there and the squirrel scurry up the tree and picking the specific branch the birds were on to run down. If the squirrel was a human I would say it appeared like he was trying to be annoying. In a simpler way, it is probably the set of branches the squirrel uses to move from tree to tree and the birds just happened to be on that pathway. Anyway, all is back to being calm as the birds, mostly mourning doves, have taken up new positions while the other birds are flitting around as usual.

And speaking of birds, it seems some geese are still hanging around. There was a big gaggle of them floating just offshore while honking up a storm. A light wind from the north was blowing the entire batch of them slowly down the shoreline. A while afterwards our local eagle was using the wind to soar north along the coast. The picture I got of the eagle appears to show him having a look at the gathering.

After a couple of false starts it appears winter is finally arrived in Vermont. Since Thanksgiving we have had a couple of snowfalls and chilly temperatures but they were followed by warm spells and rain. A few days ago we got just over 2 inches of powdery snow that was easy to shovel and drive on. It had almost disappeared when overnight we got a couple more inches of snow but this time it was wet and gloppy. It was heavy to shovel and a bit of a challenge to drive on even after the plows went through. There is a winter weather warning with high winds in our area which lead to all the schools in the area to be closed. And according to the forecast we are in for colder temperatures as well. While we are in for single digits for the lows on a couple of occasions it will dip below zero. The highs will also dip to around 10 degrees before settling back into the high teens and low 20’s. Good thing we put together a quality winter wardrobe when we first got here. And now we will get to use it.

Did I mention it has gotten chilly here? Chilly? I mean cold. Add in the high winds that are arriving which bring windchill we are talking double digits in the negative range. The evening weathercast showed a windchill around here will be around -24 here tomorrow. And more snow is on the way. Time to break out the balaclavas! Saturday morning was a foreshadowing of this when our thermometer showed -1 degree at 6 AM.

If you have kept up with this blog you know coffee plays a big role with us. Our go to brand is Vermont Coffee extra dark. It is organic, fair trade and tastes great. Normally about once a week we stop by the factory café for a fresh cup and to pick up another pound of beans. Since we now drink espresso the grind has to be finer than the one we used for regular coffee. Our simple grinder at home was ok for the regular coffee but not espresso so we used the professional grinder at the factory. Now, I am not that much of an expert nor are my taste buds fine tuned but I did notice as the week wore on the espressos seemed to slip in flavor. I looked at several home grinders but did not find one that hit the mark. Then, after almost giving up, I found a manual crank grinder that got high marks and took a chance on it. The grinder arrived about a week ago and appeared to be good quality. We picked up a pound of extra dark roast beans and pulled out an air tight container to keep them in. The next morning I followed the directions and set grinder for an espresso grind. The first cup wasn’t good, it was great! OK, it might have been a bit of hysteria on my part at the new process but each and every subsequent espresso was just as great. On Saturday night I decided to give the process yet another test and am delighted to report that cup of espresso with the freshly ground beans was just as good as the first cup. We have a winner. And just in time to help make the sub-zero temperatures a bit more bearable.

While the storm that hit the Midwest and is settling in on the east coast is something of a monster we seem to only be getting the edge of it. That holds pretty much for a lot of the storms that hit New England. We do get some of the effects of the storms, they mostly pass north and/or south of us. It is cold and light flurries are falling but nothing like what is hitting the Mid-Atlantic States. It is enjoyable to have my espresso while watching a light snow fall. Kind of makes me want to wax poetic, but don’t worry, I won’t.

I got my flu shot for the season and while it does help it is not a guarantee one won’t get sick. Although along with a healthy diet, exercise and supplements I felt I had a better chance of making it through what is dubbed as the cold season. I had been dabbling with what might be the onset of a cold or the flu but it was pretty much in the background – until this morning. The drained energy, stuffy head and a couple of aches greeted me when I awoke this morning. More so than just the getting old thing. Feeling this way also means giving the gym a miss. Kind of feels like I am playing hooky although without the return of health after the school bus passes by. I still get to sit by the window watching the light snow fall with the birds and squirrels milling about. It is time to just sit back and do nothing, besides contemplate a nap.

The long range forecast has been varied although it kind of zero’s in as the time gets closer. A few days ago we were in for a couple of inches for this coming weekend but that has morphed into 8 to 12 inches on Saturday and the same is listed for Sunday. Not sure if that means that amount for each day or a total for the particular storm but we will find out shortly. Read one way it could mean by Sunday evening we will have about 8 inches of snow or read the other way we will have around 2 feet of snow. Then the week after that there will be the addition of another 10 inches. In any case it looks like we will finally get to use our snowshoes.

I know I have been droning on about the weather but it is something to bring up. Just yesterday the prediction for this weekend was 8 to 12 inches of snow. As of this morning the forecast is now 5 to 8 inches so it looks like this storm is still causing a bit of trouble. In any case we are in for some snow this weekend. Today we are looking at some minor warming into the high 20’s and it might even hit 30. Although with the wind blowing it is making it feel like it is in the teens. I felt that wind chill when I took a walk today. I was bundled up but did note the wind was somewhat piercing and that some very light flurries are about. Yesterday we noticed patches of ice on Lake Champlain but they have disappeared this morning. The wind might have blown them along the shore or broken them up. With the temperature for the most part riding below freezing for the foreseeable future there is a good chance we will see the lake freeze over this winter.

OK, it is now Friday and we are under a winter storm alert with the possibility of up to 20 inches of snow from it and most likely more with another storm on its heels. Also the temperature is going to be dipping below zero for a few days before getting back into the 20’s. On the upside, our snowshoes should be in use soon, along with our balaclavas and layered clothing. Looking forward to getting out and about. The storm reports also mention the type of snow that will be falling in our area will be powdery and light unlike a ways south of us where the snow will be wet and gloppy. The powdery snow makes for easier shoveling but also becomes easier to be blown around and since we are also in for high winds so drifts and whiteouts are expected.

At about 1:45 this afternoon a light snow started to fall. It wasn’t a bit deal at first but as time wore on the snowfall got heavier and the wind kicked up. The temperature has dropped to around 2 degrees with a listed wind chill of -13. Visibility looks to be less than about 100 yards. So what are we planning to do? Why, take a stroll outside of course! Not sure if it is to just get out of the house or to show we are not intimidated, or both, but we are going to go outside. Now where did I leave that balaclava?

Actually that balaclava came in quite handy. We bundled up and were warm for our walk including our faces because we had them covered. We also used our ski goggles to protect our eyes so we were able to stay out for almost an hour on our stroll. There were a couple of cars that went by and one of our neighbors was out so it seemed like something of just another day, although a really cold one. Funny enough it will be warming up overnight as the snowfall increases. We will go from around -2 before wind chill to around 10 degrees by 1 AM. As for the snowfall, we are still looking at something over a foot. To let you know how serious it is bingo was canceled for tonight, the volunteer fire department has called off their monthly pancake fundraiser breakfast (first time in 25 years), and some Sunday worship services have been canceled. Our road crew here in Panton is working to keep the snow from building up on the roads by completing their first round of plowing.

WOW! There was around 12 inches of snow on the deck at 7 this morning. I had it cleared off by 7:15 and by 7:45 there was a inch that had built back up. Cleared off again and within another 30 minutes there was another inch back. The snow is still coming down fairly heavily and will until sometime this afternoon. Tomorrow partly cloudy and Tuesday mostly sunny. While it is going to be quite cold it will be great snowshoeing weather! Fast forward to 1 PM and it is still snowing fairly heavily although it seems just a touch lighter. Since I cleared the driveway several inches have settled back in on it. Still, it was good to clear what had built up overnight to make it easier to do a second round later today or tomorrow morning.

The snow stopped sometime around 4 PM although the wind was still blowing a fair amount. I suited up and got the snowblower out to clear the 5+ inches that had accumulated. It didn’t take as long as the first round but it was good to clear the mound at the end of the driveway left by the plow. It also gave me an excuse to enjoy another espresso.

Late Sunday night I noticed it looked bright enough outside that I figured I must have left a light on. Further investigation revealed a glowing full moon that was reflecting off of the snow. It was actually light enough to be able to read a book outside, but the cold kind of puts the dampers on that. So we had a totally clear sky which was spectacular to view but, once again, those pesky cold temperatures made that a short viewing. And clear skies made for even colder temps. Monday started off with those same clear skies and we actually got to see the sun. By around noon things started to cloud up and by 1 PM the cloud cover was complete. Then a light snow started to fall. Well, not as much fall as blow around while headed in a downward direction. It is a very fine, powdery snow and will probably not add a much in the way of accumulation. I guess we will have to be content with the 15+ inches we already have, for now.

On Tuesday we noticed Lake Champlain by us had frozen over. It is most likely a very thin sheet of ice but it is covering the lake. Wednesday morning the ice cover is still there even though temperatures are rising a bit. At the same time there is another storm headed our way only this time it will be freezing rain then dropping temperatures will make things even scarier. And the threat of flooding before the freeze because the ground is frozen and any rain will not seep into the soil. It also makes travel more difficult with a lot of ice on the roads. I stopped by our town garage and the folks there were putting chains on the town plows so they can be out there and keeping our roads clear. There are other side effects like the added weight of ice bringing down trees on power lines and over streets. Even the emergency management meeting I was going to attend has been postponed due to weather. In other words there are some scary times ahead. Luckily we are pretty well set as we did our shopping yesterday so no need to go out.

Well, we did get some warmer temperatures followed by freezing rain but not as bad as it could have been. The road crews have kept the roads pretty clear but side roads, parking lots and some walkways are slick now that the standing water has frozen. There was some flooding around but as usual our area did not see much of any issues. Over the next 10 days or so we are supposed to get another 3 or so inches of snow with possibly more later on. The hill at our local park has a nice covering of snow and kids in the area are having a ball sledding down it. On Monday when the kids are back in school we might just pull out the inner tubes and give it a go ourselves.

We didn’t get to the hill for a slide, too many things to catch up on. Thursday might be the day for a try though. We just got another 5 inches of powdery snow but the big issue is the low temperatures with wind chill taking it down into somewhere around -20. Even with layers that might be too far down the scale. At least the hill is close by just in case. The recent snow has made the frozen Lake Champlain look like a huge empty field rather than a lake. Oddly luring to take a few tentative steps out on it but I think I will give it a miss, at least for now.

I decided it was time to take a stroll to the shore and get pictures of the frozen lake. So the layering and bundling occurred and figured I was set for the half mile walk. After about 200 feet the -17 degree wind chill found my vulnerable spot just below my ski goggles. The balaclava was too thin for the sharp wind. Even though there was just over 1 square inch not doubly protected the wind found that spot. The tip of my nose under the ski goggles and my cheeks above my beard, while covered by the balaclava, really felt the cold wind. Because over the next few days it is going to warm up and would be a better time for a stroll and photos I bailed for now. Good excuse for another espresso, as if I needed one.

We have had quite a few grey skies for more than a month. I have come to find not seeing the sun for such a long time does have an effect on me. After living in California for many years where there was sunshine for an overwhelming amount of time it is strange not to have it. Lack of sun also drains ones energy and I have to admit can make me a bit grumpy. It has been 40 years since I lived in the northeast and this winter is more like the ones I now remember. The past few winters were mild and lulled me into a false sense that northeast winters aren’t that bad. Well, this one brought back the old memories in full force along with the doldrums that come with short days and lack of sun. While it will be tough to shake off those doldrums, getting out and active in winter sports may not solve the issue but can make the drab, cold days easier to deal with. Espresso seems to help as well.

Bye Bye 2018

The Adirondacks across Lake Champlain, The Claus family, male Cardinal, sunrise across the field, the fox from a distance, a dark and stormy night, snow, a New York farm across the lake.

For the past week we have had grey skies other than a small sliver of blue on Saturday. It was nice to see the blue skies as Saturday was also the local holiday stroll where I played Santa. Well, one of three or possible four that is. One does breakfast at the high school, one does some readings at the library, and there was rumor of one at a local business just outside of downtown. Then there was the one I played where kids get their picture taken with Santa and tell him what they want. That goes on for a couple of hours followed by the tree lighting in the town square as I wander around chatting with kids and parents. There weren’t as many kids as last year but there were still quite a few. It was a lot of fun although I was still nervous about the whole thing. On Sunday the gloomy skies had returned and after coffee, the beard I had been growing for the part of Santa since late August finally got trimmed. By midday the gloom turned into light rain which lasted on and off the rest of the day and into the night. At least the long range forecast shows there will be some sunny days over the next week. But along with that, temperatures will be dropping into the 20’s as the high. The rest of the warm weather clothing has been moved to the back closet.

Well, we finally got a mostly sunny day. It took all the way until Friday to arrive but it is really good to see the sun. While most of the lowland snow has gone, there is still plenty of it up in the mountains. The ski resorts are all open although still making snow to supplement what nature has brought. I am still holding out for enough snow down here by the lake for us to snowshoe through the fields across the street. Am I lazy? Maybe but is also means I don’t have to drive to get to a place for some winter fun. It is also nice to be able to get to my espresso machine immediately following a couple of hours tromping through the cold and snow. OK, maybe not lazy but spoiled. With the clear skies there is a clear view across the lake to the Adirondacks. It is nice to see the peaks covered in snow. Kind of helps with the holiday feeling.

Today was another sunny day although not quite as sunny as yesterday. We had some errands to run, one of which was a stop by a toy store to obtain some items for the donation barrel. Our route also took us by the Lake Champlain Chocolate Factory and try as we might we could not stop the car from turning into the parking lot. I have to say it some of the best tasting chocolate we have ever had. While we did get a couple of dark chocolate truffles we were hoping for a special they have on occasion. A dark chocolate espresso chocolate cup, filled with coffee mousse with bits of roasted coffee beans. A wonderfully decadent combination. Unfortunately, or fortunately, they were out so we had to console ourselves with a dark chocolate almond caramel cluster. Not quite as wonderful as the espresso cups but still a good consolation prize. Now it is time to flop and recover from our chocolate comas.

It is now Sunday and we are still recovering from the chocolate coma. I knew we overdid it but oh my. Moderation is now our friend otherwise we will have to skip visits to the chocolate factory in the future. A pretty harsh action but one that might be necessary. By the time 2 PM rolled around we had recovered enough to get out and about and were at a local church enjoying a holiday concert. At first we thought it would only be a small ensemble we have heard before, and liked, but it turns out there were a variety of musical folks. The list also included a wonderful jazz pianist, a family playing Celtic music, a ukulele band, solo guitarist and a couple who did vocals and guitar. It was a great way to spend two hours on a Sunday afternoon. There was a reception afterwards but we gave that a miss as they were offering cookies and coffee, and we still just on the recovering side of too many goodies. We are now in search of our next holiday event.

Monday found us pretty much back to our normal routine. Up early, espresso while watching light snow flurries, gym, back home for more espresso and to enjoy the clearing skies. The view of the Adirondacks across Lake Champlain looks spectacular as well. The snowcapped peaks looked like a postcard. Still no major snow for us but the long range forecast shows we should be getting some snow for Christmas but only after a few days of rain. This winter season has been quite different than the previous three we have had. One of the local farmers thought he would try to spread some joy. As we were headed towards Vergennes we noticed he had put two, two foot faux Christmas trees in his field on either side of the road. They were a ways back so not right on the road and must have a small solar panel and battery for the lights as they have been lit up at night for a while now. For the most part there are no street lights in this area so they showed up fairly well. A small gesture but a fun one.

We awoke to single digit temperatures this morning. While we have had a couple of snow flurries but there is still no appreciable snow around our house. And of course the warming trend about to happen with rain predicted, so again we are getting cheated on the snow. The temperature is supposed to drop back below freezing by sometime next week and the possibility of snow is getting more real. That means we just might get that white Christmas. Anyway, it is nice to bundle up and step outside to enjoy the winter and at times we get a special treat like the one on Wednesday. A fox went trotting by in the field across the street. It was only about 50 feet away. Unfortunately, my camera was upstairs and by the time I retrieved it the fox had moved on and not even my telephoto lens got a good picture of it. Maybe next time.

It has been a while since we have seen any deer so it was a bit of a surprise when six or seven of them came rushing out of a field, crossed the road and headed into the woods. They were only in view for a few seconds but enough to get a good look at them, which was quite nice. We have also seen several flocks of geese lately as well. They were flying in the usual vee formation looking as if they were getting ready to fly south. Because we had an early start to the winter season it feels like the geese are a bit late in leaving but I guess they know what they are doing. The other birds that hang about for the winter are taking full advantage of the seed we are putting out. There are usually a couple of furry monsters hanging about as well.

By Tuesday the geese seem to have decided to finally move south as we have not seen or heard them for a couple of days now. The same for the ducks that seemed numerous until recently. But it appears there is a balance as the eagle we have not seen in a while has returned and is soaring along the shoreline. And of course just after I noted the geese seem to have gone we heard some honking down by the lake so I guess there are still some around.

We were invited to a holiday party at the office of the local physical therapist. He is a high energy guy and does a lot for the community. It was a very relaxed atmosphere where everyone was welcome. It was not listed as a potluck but a lot of food and drink showed up to form a real feast. There must have been about 50 people there and one medium sized dog to keep an eye on everyone. The dog belongs to the PT guy and is usually at the office so he seemed to know everyone. It was a very festive event and even though we were home before 8 PM we stayed up late because of being full of energy. It was a bit of a haul making it to the gym on Friday but we persevered.

Saturday was another grey, gloomy day that started off with a light rain. We ran a couple of errands early then settled back in at home. A cold front that had been predicted moved in sometime around 11 AM and the rain turned to snow. Since it has been above freezing for the past few days the ground is a bit warmer so none of the snow will stick.  Last night around 7 PM, remember it gets dark around 5 PM, we stepped outside just for a look. Because we had a warming trend earlier and it got up to almost 50 degrees, the moisture in the fields across the street formed a wall of fog over the fields. It looked quite eerie as we couldn’t see anything beyond about 5 feet into the fields. It was like a big, off white blanket had been hung up. Lake Champlain also had a dense fog blocking the view. It was a good night to stay in and relax. And just since I have been writing this entry the sky has lightened up a bit and the snow has stopped.

Well, we are now officially in winter. Other than a couple of days next week, temperatures will be below freezing with the highs in the 20’s. That makes the recent rain and snow melt a bit more of a concern as there is a potential for black ice and flooding. The wind has also picked up appreciably making it feel even colder. There is even an alert from state agencies related to the conditions. And now we have a 50% chance of snow for Christmas. Not much and it won’t last long but it seems like the right thing to have happen on Christmas Eve.

Snow update: We did have a white Christmas. The flurries that started on Monday morning turned into a light snow that continued throughout the day. By the time the snow ended, around 6 PM on Christmas Eve, we had an inch and a half of snow. We slept in on Christmas Day until 7 AM, which is sleeping in for us. The day started off cloudy but by 9 AM some blue had broken through and by noon we had clear blue skies. It was still chilly though but we couldn’t let this sunny day pass without getting out in it. We bundled up and walked over to the town beach. The town beach is a small area for people to launch small boats or have a picnic during the summer months. None of that was going on today and we were the only ones there. We still felt a bit restless when we got back and we because had a few hours of sun left we dusted the snow off the car and took a drive through the countryside. It was a nice drive and a lot of it looked like the old Christmas cards. The farmhouses had snow on their eaves and smoke swirling up from their chimneys. We settled in for the evening and decided to watch a movie. We had already watched some of the normal ones like Miracle on 34th Street, A Christmas Story, White Christmas, etc. so we decided on a movie with a bit of a different theme, Hot Fuzz. For those who have not seen it, it is a comic, although a bit gory in some parts, British cop movie with Simon Pegg (the new Scotty in the Star Trek movies). Well, we wanted different and that’s what we got. We are thinking maybe Sean of the Dead for New Years.

Our gym was closed on Christmas Day, as it should be. On Boxing Day the opening time was 9 AM and that meant we could again sleep in, which we didn’t. We got to the gym for our full workout just after 9 AM which was about 2 hours later than we normally get there making it seem the day has slipped past us. There are no firm plans on our calendar for the rest of the week which is probably good as I am on the edge of what feels like a cold trying to force its way in. One thing that we have not formally scheduled but want to do is visit a couple of the Erie Canal towns we docked at during our canal trips. During the winter the canal is drained down to about 4 feet deep so the ice won’t damage the locks and levees. At Seneca Falls the lake just on the west side of the locks almost disappears to reveal several old structures that got flooded when the new locks went in and the lake was formed. It would be fun to take a few pictures showing how different things look this time of year.

We still have some snow on the ground but it will probably disappear by Saturday. While it is still in the 20’s right now by Friday it will be in the low 40’s with some rain, followed by pretty much a carbon copy for Saturday. Then a nose dive back into the 20’s for the foreseeable future. OK, here is an update on that. From Thursday night to Friday morning the temperature did rise but before it got above freezing we got a dose of sleet giving everything a coating of ice. The trace of snow that is left seems to be protected by the ice covering so it will probably last until the temperature drops back under freezing on Sunday.

At around 4:30 this morning, yes I was up for some reason, I saw the sand truck go by. While the roads were probably in shape enough to drive on we decided to skip our Friday morning trip to the gym. I think that was a good choice and fired up the espresso maker. A bit later we checked the deck and found it to be like a skating rink which reinforced our decision to stay in. On Sunday we are supposed to get some sunny skies but for now it is back to grey with a distant fog blocking our view of the Adirondacks. Just another reason to crank up the gas fireplace and espresso maker.

It’s a good thing I am not a weather forecaster. The ice cover that was here yesterday was gone this morning, and the snow with it. The temperature has headed into the low 40’s and there is some blue sky poking through so we decided to make up for missing the gym on Friday by going today. Saturday is not a normal gym day for us but there were a couple of familiar faces there. I didn’t do an intense workout but did a bit of aerobics and some weights. Nothing much planned for the rest of today but Sunday we are thinking of spending the day in Burlington for a change.

We did spend the day in Burlington. Nothing really planned but something to help stave off cabin fever. We poked around the north end a bit then headed to the south end co-op for lunch and a few grocery items before heading home. It was mostly sunny in the morning but by around 1 PM the grey clouds moved back in. Those clear skies from this morning were a left over from last night. I noticed how clear the sky was when I stepped outside around 10 PM and saw all the stars. Good thing I was bundled up as I stood there staring at the stars for quite a few minutes. We have had a lot of cloudy days lately so it was a real treat to see the stars. The one downside with clear skies is it makes for a colder night, and day. As to the weather, we were forecast to get 3 to 5 inches of snow this coming Friday but as of this morning it has changed to rain, sleet, ice and snow. It almost feels as if we have done something to upset Mother Nature. That is next month, and next year as well, so the January blog will cover that. Tomorrow is New Year’s Eve and our gym is open so our early morning is planned. As for the evening, probably an early night. See you next year!