Friday, February 14, 2014

Winter Storm Pax, Part Two....

....and, the first few days of the winter storm Pax, we spent companionably enjoying the snow, and all the things that go with it - 

Children out sledding on the neighborhood hill - which faces north
and REALLY gets the snow/ice. Its great for sledding, but the one
 and only time we had a snowplow actually show up in our neighborhood 
about 3 years ago, it reached the top of the hill, stopped dead and carefully 
backed out of the neighborhood and left us covered in ice. Its a pretty serious hill! 

Sledding is not something kids in South Carolina get to do every day - I mean, snow
is rare here. We can go years between measurable snow fall. So when they 
get an opportunity like this, they sled all day, literally! 
Our other great joy is watching the bird feeder. I think we were the only people in the neighborhood with one filled up and ready to go, so the birds were just all over it, all day long as well. We had Wrens, Chickadees, a bright red Cardinal (and his quieter plumaged mate), Blue Jays, and Mourning Doves. Every so often a murder of crows would swoop in, run off all the song birds, eat their lunch and scatter again, where upon the smaller birds would return. The Cardinal kept burrowing in the feeder for the whole shell sunflower seeds, and taking them aside, would crack them open to eat. 

However, this morning dawned with the snow slowing, then ceasing and the serious question arising...can we get out of the neighborhood? Because Wordweaving was going to have to try to go in to work at noon and the roads were an un-plowed mess. I was greeted first thing in the morning to one of the neighbors putting his car in the ditch in front of our house. I wish to point out, he is from Massachusetts and knows how to drive in this stuff. I watched him, he was careful, slow, and did nothing wrong or careless. And he still hit the ditch. This was not an auspicious beginning to our day. Nor his, for that matter. 

He was well and truly stuck...however, 6 guys, a lever of a long 
rail of wood and fulcrum of a heavy cinder block and some
sweaty effort finally pried the car out of its ominous position
- they did have to push him, wheels spinning, back up to his driveway
there was no traction to be had. What you see is ice from sleet over snow
over ice again.
Wordweaving was very alarmed about this, because like her, the only reason he had gone out was that his employer had required him to come into work today. (Needless to say, he did not make it.) And Wordweaving's turn was next, in a few hours. Temps rose, but light snow continued to fall, and things were no better when she set out mid-morning. She made it further out of the neighborhood than he did, but came to grief about a quarter of a mile from the house, spinning her wheels and getting stuck on a frozen incline. She was loaded for bear so to speak, with extra food and drink, sleeping bag for warmth, flash light etc. However, none of this had to be invoked....she managed to slither backwards, eventually, back down the hill to a turn out, got pointed towards home and managed to make it safely back into the drive way. Called her employer and explained that she had tried, that she was not the first car to come to grief, and she was not coming in, (Insert furious rant about employers who, in terrible conditions, force their employees to choose between safety, and keeping their jobs.)

On towards late afternoon/evening, as the day warmed (we achieved a high of 39 degrees which was a veritable heat wave at this point), Wordweaving and I ventured out in her car into the mess which was now icy slush, rather than frozen iron, and carefully ran several routes and plotted out the safest route for her to try for work "tomorrow". 
Tomorrow being 5 AM, which she will be leaving for about 4:15 AM to be able to drive slowly and carefully to get to work on time. When the temperatures have dropped to about 27 degrees. And all the slush has refrozen back into lethal iciness again. 
Oh frabjous joy. 
And I call 4:15 the middle of the freaking night...not "tomorrow". 

When we got home, we inspected our poor rutted, eroded red slush and icy muck driveway. Not good. However a brilliant idea was evolved. This past summer, we planted a huge crop of tomatoes in 2 gallon buckets, with soil layered on small stones in them (and holes for irrigation drilled in the bottom). The buckets with their soil-and-stone contents were still over by the garden. We hauled the buckets over to the end of the driveway, dumped the contents out, and spread out the soil and in particular the stones and gravel for added traction for her car to grab onto when she pulls out.

The really mucky, slushy icy driveway - imagine it at 4:00 AM
in the morning at below freezing temperatures.

Something obviously had to be done! Hence the earth and gravel from the 
garden buckets....

Which gave us the demented feeling initially as we dumped them out of
building a child's sandcastle with a child's pail and shovel.

Wordweaving just had to immortalize this moment. But you can see behind me 
where we were spreading it out, and getting the gravel into the ruts. Hopefully by
the middle of the night, it will add more traction to a potentially slippery problem. 
Our exploratory jaunt out and our filling in the bottom of the driveway did much to bolster Wordweaving's confidence.   Having done all we could to prepare for the up coming middle of the night journey to come, I turned to a ramble around the neighborhood as the sun began to set. 

Walking around the neighborhood found new friends
had sprung up to greet us....

...and tiny exquisite moments of treasures such as
the pine cones blown down in the pristine snow.

The sun coming out of course
cast its usual stunning beauty on the snow.

And evening was absolutely gorgeous with the
clear, clean light. 

The mountains were vivid in the distance....

And as evening approached, the quality of light became
mystical in the silence of the snow. 

So later tonight I will be getting up to see Wordweaving off, and stay in touch with her by cell phone to see if she arrives and be available if she gets stuck. That however, is Friday, and once she gets home, she is done for the weekend. And the weekend is a 3 day one due to a federal holiday. While I doubt much of the snow will remain, by then, we will enjoy having again some extended days together to enjoy our lives and each other's good company. A little bit more wintry mix is suppose to come in Friday night, but the warming temperatures will keep it from lingering. However, given the rolling winter storms coming down and across the country, who knows - we could do this all over again before the end of Winter. Winter however isn't really bleak. It can be harsh, even unforgiving. Care and preparedness can be important to comfort or survival or both. But it has, as each season does, its own unique beauty and character, that refreshes the heart and the soul. I am grateful for it. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Winter Storm Pax, Part One....

We are having more snow this year! Winter Storm Pax, so named by the Weather Channel, is aiming straight through us here in South Carolina, and we have begun today with a lovely 2 inches of snowfall....

The early, early beginning of the snow, up by the lake...
the ducks are out and paddling in the water - if you look closely you can see them.

An attempt at seeing the ducks a bit better through the snow falling...

So, we sat and watched the snow pile up out on the deck...

With continual forays up to the lake to see how it was going...

And it was going nicely!

The lake swiftly became a showcase for the snow....

....with the soft snow clinging to every branch....

...making exquisite contrasts of the darker branches against
the white and grey world.

Wordweaving ventured up to the lake to join me, which
ended up producing the most adorable picture of her,

Saw the snow against the deep evergreens that contrasted so
incredibly with the crisp whiteness....

And as always, some of the last of the rich red berries....

By late afternoon the snow had paused, leaving an
altered world in its wake....

There was no where to look that was not simply
stunning, visually!

The snow is still there, now, and has not melted...

I remember the words from Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame,
describing from Mole's perspective the change in the woods after the snow began to fall....
"Holes, hollows, pools, pitfalls, and other black menaces to the wayfarer were vanishing fast, and a gleaming carpet of faery was springing up everywhere, that looked too delicate to be trodden upon by rough feet. A fine powder filled the air and caressed the cheek with a tingle in its touch, and the black boles of the trees showed up in a light that seemed to come from below."
This is the world that I saw today, transformed and transformational...

Of course I did not go on these adventures alone - MacDubh accompanied
me, wearing his Spiffy Winter Coat! He enjoys snow, and thinks its great fun!

Ibn, the cat however....
Ibn thinks the only place a civilized cat should go potty is outside. No litterpans for him!
However, he loathes snow. Despises it. He grumbled all the way out the door....

Long pause of total disgust - "Really? Seriously? %$#@"

He did accomplish his business, and immediately teleported back to the door
with the demand to be let in NOW, this INSTANT! Poor Ibn...more
snow is on the way! 
 And there is more snow on the way - a lot more. We keep getting varied and changing reports, but by all accounts, there is a lot more snow and some ice heading this way, at least 9" according to various forecasts, maybe more, is possible tomorrow....


In the brief pause between the storms, the moon has come out,
and all the world is draped in magic, and silence and sacred light under
its blanket of snow...

The snow in its soft covering blesses all, turning a simple
familiar landslide into something wonder full, and holy...

This is part one - tomorrow the magic will continue to grow - for us, at any rate, it is magical, because it is so very rare for us to get snow like this here in the southern lands. 
May blessings go with all travelers who must be out and about these next few days
and may we be given eyes to see the beauty all around us...
and be transformed...

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Update and Shifting Weather

Well, my last post was about a wonderful snow day...the temperatures have since gone into the 60's and 70's with some rain, and some beautiful sun....

Beautiful day up by the lake....

The clarity of the light and the air was brilliant...

However, I recently spent some nights away from home staying with a friend who has been struggling with seizures, and could not be alone when her housemate was at work for third shift. I am delighted to say that today, test results have come back in and a diagnosis of epilepsy has been made and medication prescribed for her. Well, maybe not delighted, but relieved as she is that there is a.) a diagnosis - not knowing what or why was very stressful, and b.) that there is something that can be done for the situation that may control the seizures. She sees her Dr. again in 10 days, after the meds have gotten into her system and we shall see where we proceed from there!

I have arrived back home, for yet another beautiful day...and the temperatures are plummeting again into freezing weather tonight. Let us once again sing praises for the wood stove! Today, I took my first steps into the realm of splitting wood, with a splitter (an ax with a wedge built into it). My efforts are fairly clumsy - I swear the logs giggle maniacally as they dodge left or right, but my strength and aim will improve. I am being careful as I learn, but I find it to be fun and invigorating!

I work on it in small doses - once I start to miss too much, its
time to take a break! 

And the cats of course, continue to enjoy the wood stove - we obviously acquired it just for them....

Lugh wallowing by the wood stove...he has completed his
takeover of the house via his nefarious "cute beams" and
now contemplates world domination.
Only adult cat I know who can "Out - cute" a kitten! 

So, I am home and happy to be back with my Wordweaving, and my furry four footed children, the house is warm, all is well and I am grateful that there is help for my friend! 

Breathtaking sunset to a gorgeous day...