National Weed Appreciation Day on March 28th each year reminds us that some weeds are beneficial to us and our ecosystem. Humans have used weeds for food and herbs for much of recorded history. Some are edible and nutritious, while other weeds have medicinal value.
A few weeks ago, I began to sow herbs and vegetables for this Spring/Summer garden season. So far, we have dill, snap peas, snow peas, and tomatoes. The peppers seem to take a little bit longer. Yesterday, I have sown more vegetables: beef steak tomatoes, borage, fennel, spinach, etc. When it becomes warmer, and the plants are stable enough, I can plant them in the greenhouse.
“March is a month of considerable frustration it is so near spring and yet across a great deal of the country, the weather is still so violent and changeable that outdoor activity in our yards seems light-years away.”
This morning when I let Our pups outside, Zoey focused on something in our oak tree near our property border. When I looked up, I saw a Pileated Woodpecker in the tree. I ran inside, picked up my camera, and captured photos of the bird. Then a second Pileated Woodpecker joined the first one. They both pecked on the same branch. That branch is hanging on its last splinters, there must be a lot of goodies for the woodpeckers in there. They might stay around and peck a hole to build a nest and raise their offspring. That would be so much fun.
Downy Woodpeckers give a checkered black-and-white impression. The black upper parts are checked with white on the wings, the head is boldly striped, and the back has a broad white stripe down the center. Males have a small red patch on the back of the head. The outer tail feathers are typically white with a few black spots. Downy Woodpeckers hitch around tree limbs and trunks or drop into tall weeds to feed on galls, moving more acrobatically than larger woodpeckers. Their rising-and-falling flight style is distinctive of many woodpeckers. They make lots of noise in spring and summer, with their shrill whinnying call and drumming on trees. The woodpecker in open woodlands, particularly among deciduous trees, and brushy or weedy edges. They’re also at home in orchards, city parks, backyards, and vacant lots.
It was so nice today: warm temperatures and lots of sunshine. The Harbinger-of-Winter, Crocus, and Periwinkle are blooming. The snowdrops should be done blooming, soon. Birds chase each other and sing the songs of reproduction. That sounds better and more kid-appropriate than calling it the “Screams of Sex”. Soon, we will have birds building nests and tenting for their offspring. The bears come out of their Winter dens after a long Winter of hibernation. Nature begins to wake up. I’m still waiting for my little chipmunks to appear in our yard. I haven’t seen them, yet. They might snooze for another couple of weeks.
Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers live in both hardwood and conifer forests up to about 6,500 feet in elevation. They often nest in groves of small trees such as aspens and spend winters in open woodlands. Occasionally, sapsuckers visit bird feeders for suet. Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers perch upright on trees, leaning on their tails like other woodpeckers. They feed at sap wells —neat rows of shallow holes they drill in tree bark. They lap up the sugary sap along with any insects that may get caught there. Sapsuckers drum on trees and metal objects in a distinctive stuttering pattern. Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers are mostly black and white with boldly patterned faces. Both sexes have red foreheads, and males also have red throats. Look for a long white stripe along the folded wing. Bold black-and-white stripes curve from the face toward a black chest shield and white or yellowish underparts.
Since I’m used to Spring starting in late February/early March in Texas, it seems to be forever until the warmer weather arrives in New England. And we still expect more snow to come in the next few days. I began to get some Spring flowers for indoors. I did the same last year. This seems to help tremendously to overcome the Winter depression. Kevin and I discussed the insolation of the sunroom. That way, we could have a green room year around. And Sara has a party room. But this won’t be happening very soon. It needs some planning and time to get it done. In the meantime, I keep my flowers near the living room window during Winter.
This morning’s weather was very interesting. First, we had some sleet, then the fog rolled in and out. And another patch of fog rolled in and out. It repeated three times before Kevin even left for work. Around noon time, the Sun finally poked its head through the clouds. And the snow began to melt along the hills. Now, we have a muddy mess in the yard.
March Racing clouds and whistling winds, Coats flapping in the breeze, Bright kites circling in the skies, The dance of swaying trees, The cheerful sight of crocuses, The first sweet breath of spring – Just part of all the many moods The month of March can bring.
It began to snow at around 8 o’clock last night. When I looked out of the window at midnight, I could see the accumulation of snow for the last four hours. And it kept coming down heavily. This morning, Kevin used the snow blower for the first time this Winter season. He was so excited.
When I came out of the house, the snow fell off the trees and shrubs this afternoon. It was mild enough for the snow to melt from our house roof and off the greenhouse roof as well. The dogs and Joshua were the only pets going outside. Chewbacca and Ozzy wanted nothing to do with it. When Joshua’s paws were wet enough, he came the dogs back into the house. It’s no fun having snowy paws being a cat.
Since this Winter was very mild, we didn’t get much snow this season. Kevin was giving up on snow for this Winter. But, I warned him: “It might all come down in March and April until Easter. And we have snow. Well, it’s still February and Winter after all. However, soon this will get old. We need warm weather for gardening.
February 2023 is a fantastic time to easily view two unique planets in our solar system. The gas giant Jupiter and our scorching sister planet, Venus, are brilliant in the night sky this month. These planetary diamonds shine bright even in regions with terrible light pollution, like New York City.
Venus is a rocky planet that’s about the same size as Earth. It’s also the closest planet to us. But on the ground, its environs are hotter than a pizza oven, at some 900 degrees Fahrenheit(Opens in a new tab). The planet’s thick layers of greenhouse gases, like the potent carbon dioxide, trap copious amounts of heat. Its upper atmosphere, however, hosts more moderate, reasonable climes.
Jupiter is a giant gas planet, containing over twice the mass of all other planets in our solar system combined. Thick clouds and storms (mainly of hydrogen and helium) swirl around the surface, including the Great Red Spot, which NASA notes has “raged for over a century.” (Opens in a new tab) Jupiter contains 92 known moons(Opens in a new tab), including the fascinating world Europa, which harbors an icy ocean beneath its cracked shell.
Kevin and I did an almost 2-mile hike on the Herron Pond Loop at White Memorial Conservation Center. It was a good up & down hike this afternoon. Close to the Fawn Pond we missed our trail and walked the outer path. Since we made a “mistake”, we had the chance to see the engraved boulder, a rock in memory of the White siblings, Alain & May. Back on the track, we were at the overlook of Fawn Pond. The pond looks so pretty with the tree stomps and a water lily forest beneath the surface of the water.
Once, Kevin and I made it to Herron Pond, we took the outer track again. This time, we did it on purpose. The east side of the pond was too muddy, so we decided, we take the trail on the west side. There I found an interesting plant, I’d never seen before, the flat-branched tree clubmoss. At first, I thought, it was rooted due to the pine trees above. But it is a ground cover plant. We learn something new every day.
Before the advent of the refrigerator, people kept food from spoiling by placing it in an icebox – a wooden cabinet with shelves for perishables and a large compartment for a block of ice to keep everything cold. Where did this ice come from? It was cut from lakes and ponds in the winter in regions where the temperatures were below freezing for extended periods of time. Ice blocks were cut by farmers for family use and by crews employed by significant commercial concerns. Both occurred at Bantam Lake. The commercial operation was centered on the north shore and involved one of southern New England’s largest ice block storage facilities. The company even had a railroad service making the distribution of ice to distant cities possible.
Peter Vermilyea (HiddeninPlainSightBlog.com) describes the former ice-making operation that once thrived on Bantam Lake before electricity and refrigeration were available. The site is located on the White Memorial Foundation property near Litchfield Town Beach.
Imbolc, also called Oimealg, by the Druits, is the festival of the lactating sheep. It is derived from the Gaelic word “Oimelc”, which means “ewes milk”. Herd animals have either given birth to the first offspring of the year or their wombs are swollen and the milk of life is flowing into their teats and udders. It is the time of the Blessing of the seeds and consecration of agricultural tools. It marks the center point of the dark half of the year. It is the festival of the Maiden, for from this day to March 21st, it is her season to prepare for growth and renewal. Brighid’s snake emerges from the womb of the Earth Mother to test the weather, (the origin of Groundhog Day), and in many places, the first crocus flowers began to Spring forth from the frozen earth.
The Maiden is honored, as the Bride, on Sabbat. Straw Brideo’gas (corn dollies) are created from oat or wheat straw and placed in baskets with white flower bedding. Young girls then carry the Brideo’gas door to door, and gifts are bestowed upon the image from each household. Afterward the traditional feast, the older women make special acorn wands for the dollies to hold, and in the morning the ashes in the hearth are examined to see if the magic wands left marks as a good omen. Brighid’s Crosses are fashioned from wheat stalks and exchanged as symbols of protection and prosperity in the coming year. Home hearth fires are put out and re-lit, and a besom is placed by the front door to symbolize sweeping out the old and welcoming the new. Candles are lit and placed in each room of the house to honor the re-birth of the Sun.
February Winter walks and starlit nights, Good books and cozy hours, Time for friends, heartfelt sharing, Dreams of springtime flowers… Although it may be short on days, Each February brings The simple little gifts we count Among life’s precious things.
In 1851, Eli Terry built a dam on the Pequabuck River to supply water power for a new factory, the Terryville Manufacturing Company. Located on Canal Street, the shop made clocks and clock parts. Water from the pond was diverted down a canal to turn a water wheel that generated 35 horsepower at full speed. In 1864, the factory became the Eagle Bit and Buckle Company, manufacturers of harness bits and buckles for the Union Army during the Civil War. Eventually, locks for mailbag pouches were made here. Later a sawmill occupied the site, and by 1908, it was a woodturning plant.
Originally Kevin and I planned to hike the Orenaug Park Trail in Woodbury. But we couldn’t find the entrance to the park. So, we went down to the Trolley Bed Trail. There we followed Stone Brook to the Woodbury Reservoir. Even with temperatures in the mid-30s and snow in the forecast, it was a comfortable hike.
Originally a creation by Christy Hargrove, National Squirrel Appreciation Day on January 21 is a day to learn about and celebrate the world’s cutest rodents. Here’s the thing about squirrels: some people hate them and say that they’re an “invasive species.” But can those people leap across a space ten times the length of their body? Didn’t think so.
Change has been constant throughout the 100-year history of this piece of countryside. Where once a shared landscape of farmland and woodland dominated, a campus of higher education overtook them and ruled the property for nine decades. But it too, like the farms and fields before it, lapsed into disuse allowing the woodland to reassert itself and provide us with the landscape we enjoy today.
Since it was a beautiful day, Kevin, Sara, and I went hiking in Camp Columbia State Park for New Year’s Day. It was chilly a little bit. But we bundled up. We took the Camp Columbia Tower Trail, which is a short (0.6 miles/1 km roundtrip) trail. When Kevin, Sara, and I climbed the stairs of the tower, we had a nice view of the Camp Colombia State Forest. I can only imagine, how beautiful the view will be in Autumn again. While Kevin went down the steps and looked up some history about the Instrument House, which is now a ruin, and the tower, I had to get Sara down again. The outer staircase gave her some anxiety. Once she was on the ground and away from the tower, she did fine again.
This morning was extremely foggy. And the fog stuck around when it began to rain around noon. It was wet. But it wasn’t cold. Our neighbor made sure all the critters were fed in his yard. As soon as he poured some bird seeds, the Black-capped Chickadees and White-breasted Nuthatches arrived in his yards. We had a lot of fun watching them. I guess, it is time to get more seeds for the small critters and apples for the ‘possum and deer.
The year 2022 comes to an end. And the weather became a lot milder over the week. We went from 3℉/-16℃ to 59℉/15℃ within less than a week. But the rain is supposed to be coming in, tomorrow. So, Chewbacca and I enjoy every minute of sunshine this afternoon.
The few days before Christmas, I was very homesick. No day went by without me wanting to return to Texas. When Katelynn arrived in Denver, Colorado she called Sara on Christmas Eve. Her box arrived on time. And in that box was a Texas Waffle Maker. Awww, that made my day.
The following day, on Christmas morning, Sara wanted waffles before opening the presents. Our pets had to wait a little bit longer for their new toys. Joshua, Chewbacca, Luis, and Benny were patient. On the other hand, Zoey and Ozzy were going crazy. They wanted to play with the wrapping paper so bad.
Eastern chipmunks are found in forests, but also in suburban gardens and city parks, as long as there are rocks, stumps, or fallen logs to provide perching sites and cover for burrow entrances They dig complex burrows with many entrances and chambers as well as short escape tunnels, and each chipmunk defends a small area around its burrow, threatening, chasing, and even fighting with a neighbor who invades the space The chipmunks spend the winter underground, but venture to the surface occasionally on mild, sunny days They enter torpor for a few days at a time, and then arouse to feed on stored nuts and seeds Life expectancy in the wild is slightly more than a year.
Tonight, Joshua jumped up on the cat tree. It’s much warmer up there than on the cold den floor. He loves to look at the lights on the tree and play with those bells, I hung on the top post. When Joshua has enough, he lies down and takes a cat nap. ~ “MEOW!”
Yesterday around noon, it started to snow. The snow covered the trees and grounds. But it didn’t stick to the asphalt yet. So, the streets stayed pretty clear until dusk.
This morning looked completely different. We have a Winter Wonderland in December. And it looks so beautiful. All night, the snow plow trucks kept cleaning up the streets. Kevin was up and cleaned the driveway at 5 o’clock. Sara couldn’t sleep and she took over for Kevin. He needed to get ready for work. Sara had a 2-hour school delay. so, she kept pushing snow off the driveway until it was clean.
It is perfect timing for the Christmas/Yule season. The snow started at noon. And it hasn’t stopped to snow. The forecast says it is supposed to accumulate 4 to 6 inches (10 – 15 cm) overnight. We will see, how true this is at sunrise tomorrow morning.
This evening, we had a nice sunset of pink, purple, and orange. The surrounding sky had pink and blue as well. It was so pretty. Since I had the camera in my hands, I also captured a few Christmas photos.
Benny loves to relax under our Christmas tree. He enjoys slip and slight with the tree skirt around in the front room. And it is even more fun when Ozzy joins him in his mischievous behavior. Benny is such a funny cat.
Last weekend, Kevin and I purchased a Balsam Fir for Christmas. Two weeks prior, I ordered new Christmas ornaments. On Sunday, I decorated the tree. And today finally, I came around to capture several photos. The cats got a hold of the tree skirt. And the dogs think they can use some ornaments as dog toys. It never gets dull with our furbabies. This is one of the reasons, we changed our Christmas baubles from glass to plastic. So far, the pets have kept their paws away from the wooden ornaments. They are all excited about the season.
November comes to an end, and so does the Autumn season. The days become shorter, and the nights are much longer. We have some nights below freezing. The greenhouse is done for this Autumn. Since mid-November, I fill the feeders with hot pepper bird seeds to keep away Bruno from trashing the trays. The birds don’t mind the hot seeds. It’s still November. But soon, the last month of the year will arrive.
The Grand Opening of the Watertown Barks & Recreation Dog Park was three weeks ago, I believe. Sara was bugging us to take Zoey to the park, since our Zoey had the zoomies, lately. So much energy has to go somewhere. Today we went to the dog park. And Zoey got so excited, she jumped straight out of the car, after I opened the door. She wasn’t going far. And thank goodness, she had her leash on, which I could grab easily. Once she was in the gated area, we could release her from the leash. Immediately, she made friends with a couple of dogs, who greeted her at the entrance. At the end, she said hello to a dozen of dogs and their owners, before she got tired. And it was time to go home.
It definitely gets colder here in Connecticut. The west wind is stiff. Even with “onion layers” of a t-shirt, two hoodies, and a jacket, I’m still chilled to the bones. It will take a while for me to get used to these temperatures again. In the meantime, I have some scented candles burning to keep me warm. Brrrr! 🥶
The leaves hang on to the last moments of Autumn before they will give in to the wind, the cold gets too strong and they’ll drop. Yesterday, we had our first light snowfall in Connecticut. Winter sure is coming soon. Maybe we will have a white Christmas, again. 🎄☃❄
Despite it being a chilly and windy morning, I still went outside to photograph the Lunar Eclipse. When I walked up the driveway, I also could see many star constellations. Due to a clear sky, the stars were very bright. On top of the driveway, I had to hurry up. The Moon set soon. However, it was still in the phase of totality. When I was done capturing photos, it dawned in the east. I also had enough of the cold wind. I was chilled and needed some coffee.
This week it was unseasonably warm during the days in Connecticut. The nights were cold, which brought a lot of moisture. And therefore, we had to deal with some fog in the morning. The forest looked very enchanted; especially with celebrating Halloween/Samhain and Dìa de Los Muertos/Day of the Dead in the same week. A lot of leaves have been falling, and some of the trees are bare and look dead, which adds to the spooky appearance.
Tonight, I gazed northeast and southeast from our back porch. From there Jupiter could be seen close to the waxing gibbous November Moon. Zooming in with my camera the four Galilean Moons were visible orbiting around the Gas Giant. Gazing at the northeastern skies, I could clearly make out the star constellation Cassiopeia. Perseus hasn’t completely risen at 8:00 pm. And Pegasus didn’t fit fully into the frame. Triangulum can be seen in the night sky.
Today we drove to the Railroad Museum of New England in Thomaston. From there Kevin, Sara, and I took the train to the Campville Summit, about four miles north of Thomaston along the Naugatuck River. Meanwhile, we had cold apple cider on this beautiful Autumn afternoon. Once we reached the summit, we rode back through Thomaston and made our way down to Watertown, just past Echo Lake Road. Kevin jokingly said: “If we jump off the train, we have to walk only a mile to be home.” Back towards Thomaston, we made a stop at a small pumpkin patch. Kids and adults could take pictures and bring a small pumpkin on the train. After 15 minutes the train loaded up again. And we rode back to the train station. The excursion took about 1 hour and 20 minutes. It was a nice little ride through the Litchfield Hills. We also had the chance to see the Thomaston Dam and look down into the Naugatuck River Valley. Sadly, the peak season of leaf peeping is over. Most trees are almost bare.