the endless winter

Greetings and salutations, everyone; yes, once again it is I, your popular host, Mani the purebred border collie, here to bring you up to date on the latest news, which really isn’t all that much. You may remember me from such posts as “Biscuit Time”, among so many, many others.

Here I am in a characteristic pose.

I know I haven’t posted for a while, but as the guy I live with would say, this winter has been endless. Not only endless, but endlessly endless. It got down to six below zero last Sunday night (that’s -22C), with snow, and it’s supposed to snow again this week.
Temperatures have been below normal here since the middle of November; the guy I live with has not been able to work in the garden for a third of a year. He has other things to do, so he’s not as put out as you might imagine. But this winter does seem extremely endless.

Yesterday was nice, though; the sun was out, and it was pretty warm. Today was okay, too. We can tell if it’s going to snow because the weather gets nice for a day or two, and then it snows. The ice along the paths is really thick.  The guy I live with sprinkles sand on the ice, and I guess the sand heats up in the sun, and helps melt the ice. I know that sounds kind of weird.

Today I found a couple of warm spots to lie in. The flagstone was really warm. 

This is just about the warmest spot in the garden. In fact the bulb frame heats up so much that the plastic has to be removed to let out the hot air.

Some crocuses finally started flowering. Everything is late this year because it’s been so cold for so long. If you look at the post I mentioned, “Biscuit Time”, you will see how late things are now. This is kind of an overexposed picture of Crocus chrysanthus ‘Snowbunting’, with a visitor.

Crocus stridii.

Crocus sieberi from Amfiklia, Greece.

My walks have been pretty good, except for last weekend when it was really, really cold. We still walked then but I got ice in my paws and the guy I live with thought he was going to get frostbite. He didn’t.

There are still voles to look for. I haven’t found any yet, but it’s fun to look.

We haven’t seen the owls in a while. The guy I live with said that the female is sitting on a nest somewhere, or that there are even baby owls now. I hope they stayed warm last weekend. We can hear them hooting, and there are pellets everywhere.

The owls regurgitate stuff they can’t digest, so the pellets are full of really gross things. The guy I live with said they say not to touch the pellets because there can be all sorts of bacteria and viruses in them, from rodents, and that the only way to bring one safely into the house is to put it in the microwave first. “Then you throw away the microwave”, the guy I live with said.
So we leave the pellets alone.

This afternoon we walked under this kind of gnarly willow. 

Someone had made a home in it. It’s too small for an owl, but maybe a woodpecker.

And that’s really all I have for today. At least we remembered to set our clocks forward.

Until next time, then.




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36 Responses to the endless winter

  1. Barb K says:

    There is a class offered here for children. They get to pick through owl pellets and see what they find. If I had any children under my influence I would insist they take the class, but sadly I don’t. I wonder if they wear surgical masks. It’s supposed to get warm here in a week or so, maybe there too? I hope so, even if you don’t like it Mani.

    • paridevita says:

      I really like snow but the ice on the paths is a bit scary. The guy I live with said it would be gone by the end of July, though. The guy I live with poked at one of the pellets with a stick, and said there were all sorts of things to be seen. I didn’t find it all that interesting.

  2. tonytomeo says:

    We were just talking about owls today. There are not so many in California, but for some reason, I have met several in places where they are supposed to be rare. The most humongous white owl I met was in Mid City Los Angeles. I think it was there to eat the feral kittens next door. He or she was HUGE, and flew very quietly. There were two really big brown owls who seemed to have horns like a steer, who lived in two places in San Mateo County. One lived in blue gum trees in San Bruno, and only gave us a mean glare from a distance. The other lived in Montara, and often walked around on the ground, and followed us if we went for a walk at night. While the house was still being built, he or she sometimes came inside, and just walked around looking for shiny things in the tool belts that were left strewn about overnight. When I camped out there, I could not sleep until it left. After the house was built and enclosed, I sometimes saw it on the ground, staring at the shiny hub caps of the old Electra for long periods of time. It was creepy.

  3. ceci says:

    Wow, it never occurred to me that owl pellets would be contaminated with hazardous things, but it does make sense. We used to unpack them with kids and sort out all the little bones, claws, teeth and hair and so on to see what the owl had been catching. Maybe there was through hand washing afterwards and I just don’t remember that part? All 3 kids (2 in their 30s) continue to have a deep interest in birds so the risk payed off. Sympathies on the long winter – I am tired of it here too, but we had a sunny day in the 50’s yesterday and there are tons of snowdrops and crocus all around.


  4. Nell says:

    You and Lamb Chop in the opening picture pretty much sum up the mood here, too: endlessly endless winter. It snowed Friday after a few days of not going above freezing, and then yesterday there was a psychotic break with south winds and 68-degree temperatures and sun.

    We weren’t fooled into thinking spring is here, and indeed today’s back to cold and grey, but it did give us a chance to go out and pick up sticks — and discover one fat little patch of crocus ‘Cream Beauty’ which has apparently been building up its strength for 25 years! That’s when I last planted any crocus here, and there’s never been more than one or two scattered blooms since. These are nestled among a group of foxgloves, which may have kept the squirrels away long enough for the bulbs to multiply. A delightful surprise, which I drank in and appreciated fully because it’s unlikely to recur.

    From inside, I can see that the earliest of the hybrid daffodils has opened a pair of blooms; up to now only the ancient N. pseudonarcissus have flowered. This has been the least sunny, soppiest fall and winter ever here. If the sun ever comes out for more than two days in a row, the growth is going to be explosive. _If_.

    • paridevita says:

      It’s supposed to snow again here day after tomorrow, with like a blizzard. The guy I live with has to go out in it. Pretty nice day today but the weather here has been “atrocious”; I guess like a lot of areas in North America. The thing here is that it used to rain in March, April, and May, but not any more. Just snow. Rodents do dig up bulbs. The guy I live with says they usually go for the most expensive ones. No daffodils here. The ones that are here are those heirloom ones and they’re in shady parts of the garden, so frozen solid.

  5. Nell says:

    @Tony: I’m not going to stop thinking about your “house owl” and its attraction to shiny objects for a long time. A little creepy, but also endearing.

  6. Deborah says:

    The Winter of Our Discontent?

    • paridevita says:

      I would say definitely. On one of our walks, the guy I live with suddenly found a way to see his mom’s estate stuff (which was generating considerable anxiety for him) in the same way that he was experiencing the cancer-destruction of identity stuff, and that was a big relief, but there is still anxiety over the weather. We do have an Outback which will drive through anything, and the guy I live with has a lot of experience driving in snow and ice, but other drivers might not have.

  7. Mark Mazer says:

    There is an old nursery rhyme….

    The Woodpecker

    The woodpecker pecked out a little round hole
    And made him a house in the telephone pole.
    One day when I watched he poked out his head,
    And he had on a hood and a collar of red.
    When the streams of rain pour out of the sky,
    And the sparkles of lightning go flashing by,
    And the big, big wheels of thunder roll,
    He can snuggle back in the telephone pole.
    Elizabeth Madox Roberts

    Time to strap on the ol’ pole climbing spurs?

    • paridevita says:

      Nice poem. The guy I live with said that the willows are way too brittle to be climbed. Even the big branches. They are either “crack willows” or the native ones; probably the latter.

  8. The beginning of flowering season at your place, I can see, Mani, and nesting season too. Happy you’re around, good dog, to snozzlelate on warm flagstone and keep the guy you live with going until snowmelt in July. Maybe you can help him *come to terms* with changing weather pattern. Whoever does your makeup for these photo sessions is genius, especially with the kohl stick rimming your eyes. As a dog, you do feature well with Lampchop. Our dogs Petey and Shredder have come back from the afternoon walk, just beating the rain. I would be ecstatic if it rains right through July, here. Maybe not tonight, though; we travel the freeway to hear Christopher Woods talk about the best new gardens of the world.

    • paridevita says:

      Thanks; I try to look my best. Just now, well sort of just now, on my evening walk, a couple of kids on bikes said “I like your dog”, to the guy I live with. Meaning me, of course. Sometimes people ask what breed I am or if I am—get this—part border collie. I think I am authorized to maybe lightly chomp on them. I am a tricolor saddleback purebred border collie, thank you very much. Oh. Anyway, the guy I live with said that he would like rain, too. Instead of snow. But I think that isn’t going to happen here in spring any more. It always snowed in spring here, but it used to rain, too. Now just snow. Even in May.

  9. bittster says:

    That snow looks disgusting, but laying in the sun looks absolutely ideal. I hope it becomes a regular thing and that the snow gets lost for the next 2/3s of the year.
    We finally had some warmth and sun but a little too much wind. I’m sure the wind is up to no good though, and blowing some rain in… heaven forbid the garden dries out a little.

    • paridevita says:

      Lying out in the sun is excellent indeed. We are supposed to get a whole bunch of snow in two days. The guy I live with can hardly wait. We don’t really have wind here, except with storms. Denver used to be a very windy place, but not any more. The air is still.

  10. cindeesgarden says:

    I have a pair of Great Horned owls nesting in the yard. I collect the pellets whenever I find them and have several baggies of them. I guess I never heard about the diseases they could have. Oh well. I am still alive. LOL I think they are fascinating. I love the owls so much. They whoooo whoooo all the time. They are beautiful birds. They nest each year in one tree or the other in our yard. They have always been friendly and I have never had a problem with them. Several times I have had the chance to hold one. An adult once that flew into the window and several baby owlets that fell out of their nest. I look forward to spring every year just so I can see the new babies. Soon I will have pictures of the owlets branching if all goes well.

  11. Endlessly endless. What a perfect description. Our temps are supposed to jump way up the next few days. But rain is coming with them and we are still covered in a foot or two of snow. So I am completely envious of your bare ground to say nothing of those lovely flowers!

    • paridevita says:

      When it warms up here, it’s to get us ready for yet more snow. It would never rain here with snow on the ground. So today is supposed to be about 65F, though the sun isn’t out so that’s hard to figure, and then tomorrow a big snow storm. This is the way it goes until it finally stops snowing in May. It has snowed in May here every year but one since the turn of the century. Before that, it didn’t. There was one first of May about 1987 when it snowed, and everyone thought that was weird, but now it’s common.

  12. Meow meow iss wunderfull to see you again Mani!! Yore THE hansumest poochie mee knowss….LadyMew all wayss *sighsss* deeplee when shee seess yore photoess….shee has a ‘crushie’ on you!!! Mew mew mew…
    Wee so-o ree-late to yore endlesslee endless winter…THE same upss here! Snow an snow an more snow. Wee all so have had rain an cuud get freezin rain an thunderstorm tonite or Fursday!
    Sorry mee late comin to vizzit; LadyMew has Flu’ again! Shee has bin sick with Flu efurry month this yeer…not guud rite?? An shee has bin gettin B12 shotss to help her stay well….not sure that iss werkin so guud! We hope ‘THE guy you live with’ iss doin well. LadyMew says purrayerss fore him to bee strong an get bettur an bettur!
    Yore crocuses look so lovelee…..
    ***purrsss*** BellaDharma an {{{huggiesss}}} LadyMew

    • paridevita says:

      Thanks. I’m sorry about the flu. The guy I live with doesn’t get sick. Or didn’t, until recently…. We have a blizzard today, with high winds and a lot of snow. I didn’t go to Day Care, and the guy I live with got a call from the radiation place that said they were going to be closed today. He was kind of worried about having to drive over there. The Outback does really well in snow like this, but everyone else doesn’t drive one. I can barely see across the street, it’s so windy and white.

      • Barb K says:

        I was wondering about you on the edge of the “Bomb Cyclone.” Ugh.

      • paridevita says:

        It’s super-blizzardy here today. The guy I live with went to shovel the walk and said how heavy the snow was. He shoveled anyway.

      • Meow meow Mani mee asked LadyMew ’bout her health an shee told mee shee has not bin this sick with Flu inn yeerss!! As it iss our ferst Winter together mee not know what to xpect! EEKKK you had more snow? So did wee….still snowin here tonite (Caturday) an wee fed upss with it! Mee hopess you an THE guy you live with are OKay an did not get snowed inn fore long!!! It was a weather bomm….wee still getting ‘bommed’!
        **urrsss** BellaDharma

      • paridevita says:

        I’m sorry she has the flu. The guy I live with got a shot. I think. It was a blizzard here on Wednesday and there was no radiation that day and no Day Care either. We stayed at home and shivered. About half the snow is gone now but there is a lot of mud to play in, and to track into the house.

  13. Nell says:

    Does TGYLW have a copy of Janis Ruksans’ The World of Crocuses? I saw it on an Instagram feed today and thought of him.

    • paridevita says:

      He doesn’t. The guy I live with said he thought about getting it, but the species have been split now into so many other species, and nurseries in the Baltic countries no longer ship to this country, so he figured whatever. Frustrating to see tongs of pictures of plants you can’t get. It’s probably a great book, though.

  14. Nell says:

    Gosh, the book is only from 2017, and that much has changed! Sobering.
    The Insta feed was John Grimshaw’s; he often features books. Including the snowdrops monograph he co-authored in 2001, updated in 2006. A commenter was lobbying for another updated edition, and indeed it seems even to a semi-casual observer like me that a lot has happened in that genus in the last dozen years. I’m sure a lot can be gleaned from several recent books, but that one seems to be regarded as The Bible.

    • paridevita says:

      I think the guy I live with thinks that the “splitting” was already evident in the book, which he hasn’t seen. We (I am kind of into snowdrops too, because they make the guy I live with happy) have it on good authority that a new, two-volume snowdrop bible is in the works. Meanwhile, take a look at how much the “old” snowdrop book is going for on Amazon. It’s true that the ones selling for ten and eleven thousand dollars (no, really) aren’t there any more, but the existing prices are still impressive.

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