Is it Spring yet? NO!

To those of my friends from warmer climes who have recently asked me “are you seeing signs of Spring”, the answer is “no”.  Don’t just take my word for it, ask these cardinals.

Male Cardinal in the thornbush
Male Cardinal in the thorn bush

No sign of it yet, but this bush, related to the English hawthorn, will eventually be covered with white flowers as thick as this snow. The thorns are longer and thicker than the hawthorn. You can see several in this picture.

The pair changed places for the next picture.

Female Cardinal in the thorn bush
Female Cardinal in the thorn bush

Note the less gaudy female cardinal in the background in the upper left.

We’re expecting another 10 cm of snow tonight.

On another topic, I liked the patterns this bark beetle made on a piece of bark that fell off our firewood.  Some kinds of the beetles are a pest, carrying disease like Dutch Elm, to which I’ve lost about 10 beautiful elms over the last few years, but I think these ones only do this much damage when the tree is already close to end of life.

Bark Beetle tracks
Bark Beetle tracks

Meadow Vole? Yucca seeds

I think that is what this very shy little fellow is, emerging from its tunnel under the snow to grab a bit of bird seed.  He came out very quickly and went back under as soon as any bird moved.

Meadow vole
Meadow vole 1
Meadow vole 2
Meadow vole 2

Let me know if you have a better identification.

I also like the way the light caught these seed pods just as the sun set.  It’s the closest we get to outdoor flowers at this time of year.

Yucca seed pods
Yucca seed pods

 

To see the world in a drop of water And a Heaven in a Tame Flower

OK, not quite what William Blake wrote, but close enough.

I took this shot through a drop forming on the end of an icicle, then flipped it over so you can see the refracted image the right side up.

Water drop
The world in a drop of water

You can see our cars parked on the snow in front of the house and, behind that, the woods with the sun low in the sky.

Although Blake’s poem referred to wild flowers, you can imagine there aren’t many out yet, since there is still over a foot of snow.  Luckily, I have some house plants in bloom, including this orchid which nicely shows a bud, an opening bud, a fully open bloom and the dying remnants of one, all on one stem.

Orchid-Birth-bloom-death
Orchid: Birth, bloom and death

I also like this wax plant, glistening with the sugar it excretes:

Wax Plant (Hoya)
Wax Plant (Hoya)

They’re quite fragrant, too.

 

Snow storm

My friends out west (except Vancouver) probably won’t sympathise much, but we had a bit of a storm Friday night.  The good thing about snow storms is that at least the temperature goes up a bit:

Zero Fahrenheit
Zero Fahrenheit

Clearly, Herr Fahrenheit was over-optimistic when he set his zero point; he thought that that was as cold as it could get.

But the snow is hard work. The road was ploughed by 7:30 a.m. – we get to small country roads a bit faster than my friends in England – and Tony had our driveway done for 9, so all I had to do was dig out Carol’s car and shovel the path from the front door to the driveway:

Carol's car in snow
Carol’s car in snow

I’m holding a tape measure: 19″.  A lot of shovelling.

Me shovelling snow
Me shovelling snow

The car is out already and the path was soon done:

All finished!
All finished!

Then it was time to enjoy the scenery, so I took a walk down to the river.

Path to the Pigeon River
The Path to the Pigeon River

I took a look back from the same spot:

Looking back to the house
Looking back to the house

The river was almost completely buried under the snow:

Pigeon river under snow
Pigeon river under snow

The two little lumps on the lower left are where the “bridge” is – just two cedar logs at the moment.

It would not be wise to walk on this as the river is still flowing underneath as you can see through this hole, below.  You wouldn’t want to get dragged under the snow by the current.

Hole in the ice
Hole in the ice

After all that snow, it was nice to come in and see the sun hitting the corner of fish tank at just the right angle to make a spectrum.

Fish tank spectrum
Fish tank spectrum

and even this silver fish picked up a bit of colour:

False coloured fish
False coloured fish

It is right at the surface, so the upside-down fish above are just reflections.