Take a moment and think back to Autumn. My nature notes indicate mostly sunny days, temperatures in the sixties and seventies, cooler nights in the forties and beautiful fall color. Garden vegetables, like peppers and cherry tomatoes, were still happily growing. In mid-October some of the tomato plants were continuing to crank out flowers. Asters and goldenrods, along roadsides and in gardens, were covered with bees and other insects. Annual flowers including zinnias, impatiens, fuchsias, and cosmos continued to blossom without a frost to cause their demise. Apple trees were laden with fruit, their branches straining and breaking with the heavy yield. Dan and I dried the apples from our trees, made pies and crisps and even apple wine. With fewer garden chores to do, I got to sit a bit in the yard and enjoy these lovely days. I watched for Monarch butterflies but only saw six for the entire season. The last one I spotted was on October twenty-first. Their numbers are way down. Time will tell how they are doing when they are counted at their wintering site in Mexico.
If I could control the weather this past autumn's is the kind I would select. Everyone who I saw out and about was happy and content but... BAM! We knew it was going to change and as always it did. On October twenty-second daytime temperatures began dropping into the forties while nights hovered in the upper thirties. It was a downward spiral until finally a hard frost occurred on the twenty-ninth, sixteen days later than 2012. I put away the gardening tools and brought out the snow shovels.
We didn't get snow in 2012 until the day after Christmas. This year we had a couple of dustings and then a snowfall before Thanksgiving. A mid-December storm dropped a foot of snow and was followed by frigid temperatures and it technically wasn't winter yet. In early January there was a repeat performance of over a foot of snow coupled with below zero temperatures. The January snow was lovely, light, and powdery. I got out snowshoeing between shoveling and huddling by the fire. Check my blog, Roundlakenaturenotes.blogspot.com for pictures. You'll also see photos of birds visiting my feeders during this harsh weather.
What has helped me stave off premature cabin fever (It's still only January?!) is looking at gardening books, watching birds at my feeders, visiting Leah's Cakery for treats and Nathaniel's delicious soups, and seeing Hair of the Dog, an awesome Celtic rock band with our very own Brian Gibney, guitarist, at the Parting Glass. I hope you are all coping with the polar vortex and staying warm. Spring in two months, hopefully!