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.
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.
When the trees their summer splendor Change to raiment red and gold, When the summer moon turns mellow And the nights are getting cold; When the squirrels hide their acorns, And woodchucks disappear; Then we know it is Autumn. Loveliest season of the year.
The same morning, but in a different part of Watertown: Kevin and I took a short trip to Black Rock State Park. While we were driving further down into the valley, the fog became denser. Actually, I wanted to capture some Autumn photos across the lake. Instead, I’ve got some fantastic fog photos of some golden maple trees. When we drove home, we got back out of the fog. On top of the hill, we had a nice view of the Naugatuck River Valley. The mist lay there like a blanket. The scenic view was stunning.
Kevin and I waited until sunrise before we drove to Veteran’s Memorial Park for a nice walk on this crisp morning. We both warmed up quickly once we walked our first round. Since it was so nice, we decided to go for another round. While Kevin and I were at the park, we saw all these beautiful October Autumn colors. An Eastern Gray Squirrel munched on an acorn and built a bed after breakfast. Our critters prepare for the cold weather.
Every day, the colors change in our yard and in our forest. I love how everything turns to gold, orange, and maroon. Colorful vines creep along the tree trunks, mushrooms grow on the fallen trees, berries become ripe and their skins split open. The colors of Autumn are so beautiful. 🍁🍄
Sven, Christopher, and Gunnar are back and dressed for the festivities in October. They are so ready for “Trick-or-Treat” by the end of this month. Since the gnomes had so much fun with the last photo shoot, they agreed to do another one. 😉
The temperatures seem to be perfect for the greenhouse garden, this October. We still have quite a few snacker tomatoes. The beef-steak tomatoes are still green. And the flowers seem to do well. I also could harvest a banana pepper, a bell pepper, two eggplants, and half a bowl of cherry tomatoes and golden sun tomatoes. This Summer I started late because I waited for the greenhouse to be built. Therefore I will have a late harvest in Autumn.
The Hunter’s Moon is also the October Full Moon. The leaves fall from the trees and the fields stand empty after harvest. The forest’s animals have fattened up for the winter ahead. The thinning leaves and empty fields made this an easier time to hunt in preparation for the winter ahead. The October full moon is about honoring that which has passed; the plants and the animals that gave their lives to sustain ours and our ancestors who brought us into being and helped shape our world. Cook old family recipes or retell old family stories in honor of your ancestors.
Autumn has arrived. Our yard and forest become more colorful as the season goes on. We had cooler nights, just above freezing, which help the leaves to turn into their beautiful colors. Just in time, the Autumn berries begin to ripen for the cold days ahead. Birds and small critters will need all the nutrition they can get before Winter will arrive in New England. Most birds have left for the South, where they will over-winter until Spring comes back.
While Hurricane Ian was causing a lot of damage in the Caribbean, Florida, and Carolinas, it began to fall apart as a tropical storm in Virginia last week. Now, the remnants of Ian linger in the northeast causing temperatures to drop, high winds, and a lot of rain for the last three days and nights. I’m tired of the rain. Tomorrow, the weather is supposed to warm up into the low 70s with some sunshine. This will hopefully be a much better opportunity for some Autumn photos.