But like I said, the visit was brief. I would have stayed longer, but responsibilities were still in need of my hand, the dogs were starting to look at me in that deep way only dogs have that seem to speak volumes without a word uttered. Sugar's look said "PLEEEEEEASE take me HOMMMMMME!!! I need to wrastle and play and grovel and growl and roll and play with Sméagol instead of having to watch every move". And I didn't want to wear out my first welcome. There could always be other adventures and misbehaving up the road.
More pressing of all, there was a very large Nor'easter storm building south and west of where I was at, and I really didn't want to be driving thru heavy snowfall, despite that I have experiences with doing it. Once I got to within' smell of home, though, I was surprised that Sugar slept in the passenger seat unwittingly, while it was the boy who roused himself and started his guttural worrying, enough so that "mama dawg" woke up and she realized she'd almost slept past where she and Sméagol watch for Domino, the crazy ass neighbor's dawg who insists on chasing cars despite that he's been hit nine times or more so far.
All her fun was spoiled as she geared herself up for some behind the glass confrontational grandstanding, as she must have realized that he wasn't anywhere to be seen. One day I will blow her composure and stop the van and open the door and front her out. She's all bark with Domino. I've already seen it when he visited one day while his owner was bringing up hay for his dad's cows and we arrived just in time for her to spot him and go off on him behind the safety of the windows. So I stopped, opened up the side door, and without thinking, she jumped out, only to kinda freak, try and catch herself and wound up back in the van! Such bravado and nothing to back it up.......
As we got home, I could smell the weather in the air. It was late at night on Thursday, and what I wanted more than anything was to just park the car, unload it and turn the dawgs loose. I did the latter first. Stopping only long enough to water the central strip of grass in the driveway, they then kicked up their heels and tore down the partially lit winding drive just past the gates and Zebra grasses and headed down to Miz Mary's for a sniff and lookee see. I hoped skunks were snoozing or at least further off, and started taking things inside. It was good to be home.
Apparently son was lonelier with me gone than he'd admit....every upstairs light was on. All of them. Were it not for the fact that 98% of these lights are now energy savers, I'd have had his butt when he got home, but I kinda sighed that mom sigh that we have when we're tired and don't want to make too much of an issue of something, and besides, son was at work. I had the house to myself. Turn off most of the lights, and noticed the nails hadn't been fed (the fish in the two huge aquariums in the living room), and then I noticed that the light that Squire rigged up for the smaller pots of cacti and succulents underneath the one aquarium was ON. Which meant that son had never shut it off giving the plants some rest. Talk about the land of no sunsets..........and the cacti showed signs of stress and newer growth that indicated my worst suspicions.....another sigh.................I should murder him in his sleep, but he's my oldest and I kinda like him and his company most times.
Sort thru the booty I'd brought home with me, turned on the tube and waited for the local news to tell me how bad the approaching storm was going to be. They promised it was to be a dozy. So all day Friday, I prepared for possible inches, nay, even a foot of much needed snowfall. Threw some more leaves on top of the new perennials I got at Stanley's a few weeks back, grabbed son up and we headed into town to visit my garden buddy and share some gifts and seeds with her before stopping at the local box store to stock up on suet for the winged dinosaurs in Fairy Holler. We were out. Snagged a large bag of thistle seed, but forgot the sunflower seeds, and made the mistake of going out into the garden center to see if anymore pots were reduced and wound up getting a mate to the first one, and taking ALL of the wrought iron trellises, including the slightly bent one. Son mumbled he never wanted to take me to Lowes ever again...........LOL
For his anguish and discomfort, I decided to make one last stop at the local grocery store and get supplies for a feast. About that time, Squire had called to tell me HE was going to be in the vicinity and would call when he was closer.....two bundles of fresh asparagus then, not one. I haven't made my famous chicken fried steak with smashed 'taters and oh my gawd gravy in a coon's age. There will be bloated bodies in various positions scattered about afterwards.......
The temperatures were high. In fact, as I pointed out to son, since we'd left hours earlier, the temperatures were actually RISING. This didn't bode well, and we both agreed that there indeed was a storm coming our way. And all my little "Arthur's" were aching me, including the new one on my left pinky toe. Oh yes, the barometer was doing crazy things.
I came upon some incredible bargains and sales at the town grocery, and got enough milk and supplies to make some really decent meals in the days ahead and was actually thinking of making a few meals in advance in case the snow was heavy enough to cause power outages. If that happened, there'd be no way to heat anything up except by the heat from the fireplace, and I just wanted to make sure we were prepared.
People always wonder why we buy bread and milk when they threaten snow storms......well, my take on all of that is.........snow cream for when the snow accumulates enough to scoop it into a pot and make a batch (I adore snow cream as some of you know from past posts) and sammiches. If you can't cook, at least you can have sammiches or "wish sammich", where you ...........wish you had some meat, baugh baugh baugh..........lol But seriously, when I lost power during an eight inch storm a few years back, I kept the fridge closed to not lose cold, ate sammiches, burnt wood in the fireplace with the doors open since the blower didn't work during a power outage, and had plenty of horded water downstairs in buckets and containers to at least FLUSH...........the animals had no such problem, and we all slept in the den in front of the fire until the power came on three days later. lord did I need a shower.........at one point, I went to the local truck stop who DID have electricity, with my own towel and soap and they let me bathe for free.......(that was day three before it came back on and I could leave the ridge and fairy holler safely)
Squire called to tell me Memphis was being slammed and that their dispatcher had put out word that no trucks were heading westwards. And the rains moved in. Once Squire got to the truck stop he parks his rig at when he's home, and I'd gotten him, we both agreed it would be interesting to see how much Mom's Nature would dump upon us. I personally wanted at least six or more inches of snow. I'd missed the three inches of snowfall on Wednesday, and only slight white remains on the northern edges were left as testimony until I had gotten home, and I was pleased to see I'd gotten probably all of that three inches and maybe even an inch more.
For whatever reason I'd been charged up since we'd gotten back home, and was running up and down the basement stairs that lead into the dragon cave and laundry room. The washer and dryer were cranking out humidity and artificial softener smells, and upstairs in the kitchen, I had a large pot on just coming to a boil for potato's. I was building a nice meal for us while running amuck.
In between all the running, I had checked all the suet feeders, filled up the wire seed dispensers, poured hot water into the water sources for the birds, taken out compost, potted up the four bare root perennials into pots and sat them out where they'd be covered with snow for moisture, planted the Brodaea bulbs and the lilies into some pots and placed them where they'd get the moisture as well, then started water for another gallon of tea.
Squire was comfortable enough his head was lolling and as he dozed, I trimmed the asparagus, pounded the pork ribs into tenderized pork steaks, and started putting together the main meal. The chicken fried steak would take the longest. The cubed steak was ready, and I seasoned up the flour and got the large pan heated up with peanut oil to quick fry and seal the juices into the meat. The oven was on at 350o and my blackened old pizza pan I've had for 35 years was ready to accept the golden brown fried meat to finish up in the oven while I put the rest of the meal together.
Squire had woke up when I was pounding the pork ribs into tenders, and teased me with not letting sleeping men sleep, and as I slipped the last of the fried steaks onto the pan and back into the oven, I drained off most of the oil and started a rue to make my oh my gawd killer gravy. As the drippings from the steaks and the added seasoned flour browned in the skillet, I assembled the beef stock and half and half, tossed a stick of butter into the KitchenAid industrial sized mixer, and drained the potato water into a jar for later dispensing into the waiting soils of deserving pots when it cooled. I sometimes used potato water for soup, but not today. I do the same with boiled egg water.
The rue was brown, the beef stock and half and half were ready and I got a lava surge when I poured it into the hot skillet with the drippings, and as I finished the gravy, I shut off the steaming asparagus in the other skillet, turned off the super sweet white corn and put half a stick of butter on top of the steamer basket and then lifted the basket out and placed it into my mother in law's antique crockery bowl to melt down. I changed my mind and didn't make Hollandaise sauce. The meal would be rich enough and blow Squire's diet all to hell anyway.
The meal did what I expected. There were overstuffed male bodies strewn about the livingroom for awhile, and then son begged off to go back down into the dragon cave to continue with his chatting and blogging. Squire settled upon the futon and I made a few phone calls after I did 3/4's the dishes in the sink.
We're night birds, and late into the night I kept a watch, just waiting to see what the day's promises held into the quiet night. Around midnight it began snowing. Son and I were like children. We ARE children. And I hope we never grow completely up and keep our naivety.
I had had a rather intense, emotionally charged moment with a long time friend over the phone, and in a moment of need, I'd stepped outside onto the dog run and stood in the cold, watching the snowflakes falling in huge, gigantic puffs. All day it had fallen, but it was wet and didn't do more than tease. But now the temperatures had righteously fallen to where the flakes were still huge, but the now cold ground was taking the accumulations. The magic was everywhere.
I inhaled and felt the cold trying to bite me, I ignored it. I was a bit hot at the moment with the hateful words still echoing in my head, and I needed to just FEEL my magic and healing quiet before going back inside. I had jeans, shoes and socks, but a sleeveless undershirt on. Period. The house is warm enough to not need a sweater or overshirt. As I stood and watched the thickly falling snow, I looked about me. The moon was waxing full, but no sign of him above me as the thick clouds dropped their load. But the streetlight that Miz Mary had installed years before I lived here cast that bright mercury beam onto the driveway just past the gates and Zebra grass at the edge of the north pasture. You could SEE the heavy snow falling in the stream of silver white light.
Everything was magical and white. Everything. Coated like some crazed baker with too much confectioners sugar and too much coffee and a large sifter........ thick. At least an inch of snow coating everything. As I noticed I could cut glass with my nips, I decided that son needed to experience this right now. Not later. Now. Times like these with parents that get along with their grown children are what memories are made of. He'll miss me one day when I am finally gone, but I hope he reflects on these moments I've imposed on him and smile.
I came back inside, and told Squire I really needed a serious hug, he replied like most wise men........"but you've been outside in the COLD like some loony, and you're COLD!!!!!! oh, alright, come 'ere.............DAMN WOMAN, YER FRIGID!!!!!!!!!!" Once I got me hug, I was fine, and proceeded to go in search for son, who was downstairs in the dragon cave on the 'puter. I beckoned him to come hither, immediately, and I heard his grumblings and mumblings and sighs and I told him he'd better move it......and he retorted back.."this had BETTER be good.............." where upon I told him "don't threaten me, I know where you sleep.............this is worth your efforts to dislodge yer ass from the chair for a few moments". While he moaned and kvetched, I folded more clothes and then implored him to PLEASE DAMNIT come upstairs with me, I wanted to show him something.
As he thumped up the stairs, my grin was too obvious. I told him he'd need shoes at least. He then proceeded to torture me and drag himself to his room where he slowly got himself dressed. I then dragged him outside the nook door and he saw the splendor all around him. It was worth it. We let the dawgs out to rip around in the still thickly falling snow, and he stayed outside with them, walking down the driveway to observe more closely. We both agreed a well placed shooter marble in the center of the mercury street light would solve the problem of too much light, but oh well............Miz Mary has offered many times to have it moved, but I can't bring myself to agree because it might cost her an arm and a leg to do so. Maybe one day it will just sizzle out. I hope so. It's one of the pleasures I get, the visibility of the stars overhead with little light pollution.
All my containers were thick and crusted with enough snow to give them the appearance of poofy pie crusts. The plants inside them, by the light of the reflection off the snow and the street light showed the shapes and details as I squinted at them. Magic. I love it. Of course this coming from the woman who tries to capture the images of hoar frost on leaves in the early light of morning. I was feeling the cold seep in, as I had no coat like son did.........I had thought to slip on a sweat shirt to at least cover me.
When I finally gave out and crawled off to kick the dawgs outa my side of the bed (once Mike had let them back inside, they had gone to be without me), there was a good inch and a half on the cars and some on the plants. I hoped I'd waken the next morning to find a nice white blanket on everything.
The promises of much snow accumulation was dashed when I woke the next morning to white, but not enough white. Outside, the pathetic excuse for a fence with the fire thorns and privet were packed with red dots. As I stood gazing out the bedroom window, I realized I needed to put on my glasses to see better. The red dots were Cardinals. Almost 20-30 of them. Males and a few females. The sight was inspiring. But there wasn't enough snow to even hide the grasses. As I looked up and down the driveway, observing the snow on the plants and pots. Then I noticed there was about six, seven inches of snow on the cars, and my heart picked up. The puddles at the end of the sidewalk though were showing me that they weren't puddles. They were ice. hmmmmmm, Squire might should have left yesterday after all.
I walked out the bedroom with the dawgs knocking me against the wall in their excitement to be loose (dad leaves them in bed with me, sometimes letting them out while I sleep, and they always come back and get into the bed with me until I finally get up once and for all) and I heard his voice asking them "is mama finally awake? I have Amaretto coffee honey, I'm almost ready to go to the truck and be off".
I scooted across the kitchen floor to the stained glass door and peeked thru the clear glass portion of the design to the buffet feeders next to the Pawlonia tree. I'd given up using the lower branches as hangers, since the older branches broke eventually, and especially with the weight. I'd purchased some reduced plant hangers at Lowes the last year I'd worked there, and had shoved them into the clay soil. Double hangers, more than adequate for all my feeders, thistle socks and suet baskets. Despite the double hooks, I took full advantage of them. The feeders hung proper, but I had hooked a long thistle sock in the crotch of the hook. On the other double hook were the larger mesh feeders that the birds have finally discovered and love. Suet baskets hung from the crotch of that one and a single hook took care of the other feeders. From a stub from the Pawlonia trunk, I had shoved a hook onto and over the protrusion and an odd bird feeder hung suspended on three chains. It was birds perching on the edges of a scalloped bowl an old lady had asked me to take, and I used it to hold water for the little guys. By now the word was out about the fountain because I caught many birds visiting the three spots where the water was, drinking and bathing. The actual birdbath that I haven't decided where to position, has dual usage. When there's water in it, the birds drink and bathe. (they are more apt to bathe in the puddles in the driveway with incredible abandon) The other times, it's a cat bed. My old cat, Pester's who was Rose's kitty has found it sits in the best place to capture the south and western sunlight on a slow day and snooze. And he's taught Maggie his apprentice, the same thing.
The yard was a gaggle of birds of all sorts and types. I stood at the kitchen door which faces the deck and western yard and saw Cardinals, titmouse, wrens, finches, three or four kinds of those, Mockingbirds, robins, two kinds of woodpeckers, bluejays (not many for some reason) the usual scrounging mourning doves on the ground beneath cleaning up everyone's sloppy eating habits. No fuzzy tailed rats were visible. They fear my wrist rocket and bag of marbles. They can eat elsewhere. The smell of the coffee was enough to pull me away and I had to crank up to get finished dressed and ride with Squire to his truck six miles over the hill. The trip would show me how bad the roads were. And they were bad.
The main reason we close the schools here for such pitiful amounts of snow is the ice and how the roads are. They are all cow paths and horse trails that were paved. None of them are built to take driving them too fast in wet or snowy or icy weather because you'll lunch out and either hit a tree, go down an embankment into a pasture and flip over or spin out of control and land in someones yard. The route to the truck stop where Squire's truck was is UP. You go out the long driveway, hit the pavement, and go DOWN, trying to position yourself in the middle of the road so that you don't wind up going into the Wine's lower pasture on the south side, which would cause you to flip and go upside down once you broke thru the double strand electric fencing.
The other side of the dead end road isn't as bad, but you then have to negotiate against hitting Barney, the ancient donkey, one of the older young trees, hitting C.H's own fence or one of the trees that grow on the north side. Once you get down the hill, you can shoot thru the stop sign (if there's no one coming, and believe me, at 6 in the morning after finally getting a cold ass snow and ice, there wasn't anyone out) there's enough momentum to get up almost to the top of the next rise. Squire knows how to drive on ice and snow as do I, only he's better at it having grown up where they deal with snow in feet...... He talked to me the whole way, and once we got to his truck, he just advised me to take it slow and use my snow driving sense. He knows I can drive very well.
Only once I got home, the ice and snow didn't melt. And he had forgotten something very important. I had returned and started the car I was going to drive son into work in, and as the heater and defroster melted seven inches of snow that had accumulated on it, I sat and reflected on everything. When I discovered I had to meet Squire at the other truck stop with his forgotten items, I figured I'd be able to assess the roads. They were horrible.
I came home, made myself a cup of Amaretto coffee and put a hunk of semi sweet chocolate into the cup, nuked it and spent the day finishing "The Invisible Garden" and my new copy of Fine Gardening magazine. Cold enough that the dogs went out and came right back. And the cat window was hardly used, as each cat poked his or her head out, went out for a brief time and shot back thru. The only hard core was ol' Piquito, or Furr ball as he's sometimes known. He looks like he has pantaloons. Fluuuffy pantaloons. And he's fun to brush. Except his pits. He HATES you to brush his pits. I suspect he's just ticklish.
My last act was to quickly look in the western bed and see................yep!! three crocus and two more snow drops!! When it gets warmer, I'll hunt to see how the yellow twig dogwood is doing and if it's doing well, I'll plant the new red twig dogwood with it.
Thank you for letting me share this with you all. I feel much better now. There WILL be more...............I promise.
madgardener up on the ridge, back in Fairy Holler, overlooking a sleepy English Mountain in Eastern Tennessee