Thursday, 7 January 2010

Winter Wonderland

Being stuck at home isn't all bad, if you can gloss over how feeble you feel when you can't make your Job Seekers' Allowance cover all your bills, along with all the paranoia about how you must have written a subliminal "DIE YOU SCUM" message into all your CVs and THAT'S why no potential employers are ever getting back to you.

Ho hum.

Anyway, today is a day I can positively relish not having to go out in all that slippy-slidy snowy stuff. I'm here with my tea and biccies, wearing an unfashionable big jumper and still able to plug my shops and do my networking.

There was the unexpected surprise of the BBC changing their schedule last night, replacing football with a repeat of New Tricks. Not just ANY episode, but Father's Pride, the one with The Beautiful Rasmus Hardiker (high on my list of favourite Midlanders).

Then my artistic eye turns to the scene outside. It's not the superficial Christmas card prettiness of it, but something about the way the snow reflects the light back up and changes the whole atmosphere of the place.

In particular, I'm haunted by a sight I saw on Tuesday night. We'd had quite a heavy blanketing and there were still snowclouds covering the whole sky. I'd dozed off earlier, meaning I was bolt upright after everyone else had gone to bed. Sometime after 2.00 am I went into the kitchen and looked out into the garden. There's no artificial light covering that area so normally it's pitch black. That night though, the combination of the heavy clouds and the snow on the ground, reflecting what little light there was back and forth between each other, meant that the whole scene was almost as clear as daylight. Every little detail of the garden could be seen, but the whole thing was bathed in a strange pale orange glow.

Absolutely stunning.

I only wish I had some sort of highly expensive camera that could capture the scene and do justice to the colours, but I'll just have to draw something from memory.

So anyway, I've taken some daytime pictures for reference and here are a couple of them for you to enjoy. It also gives me a good excuse to tell you how my little feathery friends are coping.

A wide shot of the garden, taken at about 10.00 am today. The camera struggled to cope with the sheer whiteness of the scene, which makes the sky look darker and more dramatic than it really was. In the centre of the picture (between the bird table and ornamental well planter) you can see a little dark dent in the snow. This is a plastic bucket lid I've had to lay down to put extra food on. Some birds, notably the blackbirds and dunnocks, refuse to come onto the bird table so I have to have some method of putting food on the ground. They get some mixed seed, peanuts, sunflower seed hearts and - only in freezing weather because they're expensive - dried mealworms.

On the right hand side, in front of the shed, you can see the little stone birdbath with a green plant pot tray next to it. Providing water for the birds in this weather is just as important as the food but it's extremely difficult. I'm out with a kettle 3 times per day. I can normally get the big bath on the bird table clear at least once a day, but I've had to give up on the little one. It was just spilling over and freezing on the path. So I've added the plant pot tray as an alternative because some birds like the lower height and being undercover of the shed.

The bird table and the 4-part planter to its left stand on drain covers. We have the sewers running under our garden and the heat from them is keeping the covers clear!

Not much sign of the squirrels during this snowy spell. We have 3 regulars (2 of which I think are mother and child but she hasn't bothered kicking Junior too far out of the drey) but last week, on a clear but frosty morning, I actually saw 4! The regulars didn't put up with the intruder so I don't know if it'll come back. I really wish I could put little coloured tags on them to tell them apart.

Frozen birdbath, snowy bench and trees.

The pampas grass has taken a bit of a battering under the weight of the snow. About half of the stalks are broken. Still, if I tear off some of the fluffy plumes and leave them in the corner of the garden after the thaw, the birds will take them to line their nests. Something nice and cosy for their bums.

Winter. We moan about it when it's here but we kind of miss it when it's gone.

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