Saturday, February 28, 2015

Still Cold.

2-28-15 SHORT HILLS: I’m glad to see the last of February. March 1 always means spring to me even though the Vernal Equinox doesn’t happen for another three weeks. The sun is racing northward and by April 21 will be half way to the Summer Solstice from the Equator. At the Summer Solstice the sun’s geographic position, the spot on the earth’s surface directly beneath the sun, is on the Tropic of Capricorn, the northern limit of the tropics and the northernmost reach of the sun’s excursion. It is about 23° North Latitude.

At the moment the sun is at 10° South Latitude. At the Equinox, of course, the sun will be at 0° on the Equator, and four weeks later it will be at 12° North Latitude. Are we ready for that?

Winter is certainly hanging on with tenacity, our yard is full of snow, and it was 10° F. here at 7 AM.

No spring in his step.

Not in bloom....

Not yet.....

Monday, February 23, 2015

Warming Up with Brahms and Tchaikovsky.

2-23-15 SHORT HILLS: We came back to NJ on Saturday, arriving a little after the latest snowstorm started. Sunday afternoon offered a brief respite from winter’s clutches. It was in the forties, it felt like a balmy summer day, there was sun and no wind. We walked around Lincoln Center Plaza with dozens of others glad to be outside without wishing we were inside.

We were there for a concert at Avery Fisher Hall. As is often the case on Sunday afternoon, we breezed through the tunnel with no delays and were early for the concert. It was a delight to just amble around the plaza.

The concert was great. We heard the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by our new fav, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, do Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 1, Nicholas Angelich soloist, and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5. We thought they were great and so did the NYT.

Today we’re back to shivering.

Mallard in the Lincoln Center reflecting pool.

Linclon Center Plaza on the one nice day in February....

Friday, February 20, 2015

Pretty but Frigid.

2-20-15 VERMONT: We’re back in the below zero freezer again, -5° this morning. It’s sunny with little wind. The birds have drained the feeder again. The feeder by the front door has been filled every day.

I have seen only chickadees at the feeders, at least a dozen or more swarming the tray and snow pile under the feeder. I saw turkeys, three or four, near the road on the way to the Skiway Wednesday.

Think how cold it would be here if it wasn’t for global warming.

Cold Turkey.

Icicle of Damocles.

Don't slam the door.

Thursday, February 19, 2015


2-19-15 VERMONT: The last few days have been warmer, in the mid-teens. We got more snow last night, and it’s coming down again now. After those sub-zero temps, the teens feel warm, warm enough for me to go skiing yesterday at the Dartmouth Skiway.

It was sunny with no wind and great snow. These days I’m good for about three hours of skiing. If I continue to ski for a few more years, lift tickets become free after eighty, looming in the distance.

We have seen some of the neighbors this week, Andy and Katie for dinner at Elixir in WRJ on Tuesday, then Ken and Jane came over to see the Tanzania pix last night, and tonight we join Melissa and Dick for dinner in Norwich.

While we were running errands this morning, Judy suggested getting pix of barns on the road, so we did.

Very close to home - our car barn, caught in the sun.

Two barns about a mile up the road.

Barns in our pasture.

Sunday, February 15, 2015


2-15-15 VERMONT: We’ve been here for a few days, and it hasn’t been any warmer than 10° or colder than -10° so far, although it’s supposed to get cold tonight. Saturday was sunny, but then snowing started that night and just now stopped. The wind has been blowing the snow around so depth varies, but the bottom rail of the three-rail fence is mostly covered. We haven’t been outside much, just back and forth to the car, the woodpile and the bird feeders.

The dogs are fine with the weather. Maizie naps in the snow after a lot of running around and has been digging up frozen toys from deep in the drifts. The snow is light and fluffy—perfect for skiing, but it’s just too cold. Wednesday might warm up to the twenties.

Cold? What cold?

Looks like a comfy place to sit.

New snow.

Porch is becoming a tunnel.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Corn Seeds.

2-10-15 SHORT HILLS: If you’re still snow cranky, as I am, here’s some news. I ordered the corn seeds today.

We have had dusting of new snow the last two nights. Yesterday’s was more of an icy mix so I scrapped and salted the driveway path, but today portion is disappearing on its own this sunny, forty plus afternoon.

About the corn seeds, I bought them from Johnny’s Selected Seeds as I usually do. I bought ‘Trinity’, a bicolor [yellow and white] hybrid that will be ripe 68 days after planting. It is an se+ type, that designation means it is extra sweet and tender and that the conversion of sugar to starch after picking is slowed. The conversion time is not so important to those of us who pick just before cooking, serving and eating.

Each stalk will be five feet tall, have two ears per stalk, and the ears will 7.5 to 8 inches long and have 14-16 rows of kernels per ear. The minimum soil temperature for planting is 55° F., I suspect it’s colder than that now but will be there by mid-May. ‘Trinity’ is resistant to Northern Corn Leaf Blight, Common Rust and Stewart’s Wilt. A package of 100 seeds cost about $4 plus shipping.

Now, don’t you feel a little better about the long winter?

'Trinity' from the on-line catalog at

Saturday, February 07, 2015

Waiting for Warm....

2-7-15 SHORT HILLS: It has remained cold, but the afternoons are a bit warmer. We are supposed to get more snow this weekend. My memories of NJ winters of the past are snowstorms dropping a few inches that would disappear after a week or so without persistent snow cover and without persistent cold.

We had a nice dinner with Lynn and Bill a few nights ago, and tonight we see Leeza and Roger in the city.

The birds drain the feeders every day.

House Sparrow, male, is actually a finch, as you might guess from the beak. Out-of-focus female is behind the male.

Slate-colored Junco.

Downy Woodpecker, female has no red yarmulke like the male. The Hairy woodpecker is very similar but bigger with a more prominent beak, but no black markings on the lateral, white tail feathers.

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Winter Woes.

2-3-15 SHORT HILLS: Snow, snow, snow keeps coming, and I, for one, have a bad case of winter weariness. The last dose of several inches was mixed with freezing rain followed by severe cold so all the trees and shrubs are still bent over with a weight of ice. And—more is predicted. Broken branches will be revealed in mid-March which seems to be forever away.

The dogs had me up before 7 AM. They were out in the pre-dawn, single digits air and were reluctant to come in for breakfast. Maizie enjoys a nap in the snow, and Gus likes nothing so much as a back scratching squirm on the ice. The sky was pink along both the eastern and western horizons.

Sunset a few days ago.

Today - sky color before dawn in the east....

And the west.