Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Blankets of Snow

It's been snowing pretty steadily here in southeastern Michigan for the last few weeks. Below, James, the intrepid explorer, treks southwest across my front lawn on Christmas Day. I'd like to think he staked those yellow flags there, as any explorer might, but to be honest any yellow territory markings he might leave are not made of plastic! (Seriously, I don't know what utility those flags mark, or who called them to be installed, as it wasn't me!)

Updated 1/18: Below is the same view today--the shrubs to the left are barely visible and James is inside!

Inspired by Marnie's winter photos at Lilacs and Roses, I ventured outside Monday to get a few more shots of my place. (Just imagine two more inches of snow overall and you're up-to-date for today!)

Here's my front yard, looking due south to the nature area that borders my property. Somehow the garden lantern looks like a gnome to me, in its snowy cap! There's a walking path immediately behind the trees and a creek another six feet beyond that.

Here is part of my backyard, with my neighbor's garage in the background. There's a cute brick walkway between those metal sconces, which had been shoveled as recently as a day before! And look at my little arborvitaes and dwarf Alberta spruces (or is that sprice?), all covered in snow, and that's not even snow thrown from the shovel! (I'm trying to obscure said garage and these babies were on sale for $3.33 and $6.66 each a few years back. They're filling in nicely!)

Frances at Fairegarden posted photos of her indoor seed sowing efforts. Her trays look all warm and cozy, sitting on heating mats. She even has some sweet baby sprouts already. In contrast, my winter-sown flats look like this! But they'll catch up later, as the seedlings won't need to be hardened off. If you're interested in what's planted in them, see my seed list (PDF).

This is my backyard facing southeast from my deck. There's nothing artistic or wonderfully "snowscapy" about the photo, but I wanted to show how much wildlife comes to my feeders. All the tracks in the snow are from wildlife, not people. The path to the left of the tree stumps is made by ducks. They really like to walk single file!

Speaking of ducks and tracks, I found duck footyprints on my deck. In the top print, you can see the webbing, and in the lower ones just the three toes. As a bonus, there are also bird tracks, I think of a sparrow!

Elsewhere in Blogland, leaving winter behind for the moment, Britta at Cat with a Garden mentioned how her cat Chilli sometimes looks like an owl in the way she turns her ears. I've noticed this with my Fiona as well, and dug up this photo as proof.

And finally, Shady at Does Everything Grow Better in My Neighbor's Yard? posted some lovely photos of pulmonaria. This is a favorite plant of mine as well. I just love its freckled leaves and sweet blue and pink blossoms. So I leave you with this wonderful bit of color on what is otherwise a dreary white-gray winter day!

Updated 1/14: Bananas! Yesterday morning when I left for work it was 33° F (1° C), and this morning it's a brisk -3° F (-19° C) (you are noting the minus signs, right?!)


  1. Hallo Monica! Bei mir schmilzt der Schnee leider seit heute. Es war schön, für ein paar Tage richtiges Winterfeeling zu haben. Deine Photos sind klasse! Gerade musste ich etwas lachen, da auf dem Photo Chilli und nicht Siena zu sehen ist. ; ) Siena ist die langhaarige und Chilli die kurzhaarige... Das Photo zeigt Fiona wirklich sehr owl-ish! Danke, dass Du es rausgesucht hast. Liebe Grüße, Britta

  2. Oh, you don't know the famous Daisy? She's a blogging dilute calico Devon Rex cat, finalist for the best pet blog award in 2008 (you could still vote for her here). That's why my cats feature her friend top spot on their blog...

    Yep, Chilli is a girl... I seemingly picked really bad names, as Siena is often spelled with two "n" and Chilli with one "l". Isn't it ironic?!

  3. Hi Monica, thanks for the link love.:-) When you said your seed trays were outside, I didn't truly understand what you were talking about! What do you have planted in them? I believe the yellow flags signify gas lines, blue is water and red is electricity, if the flags were put in by the utility company. So much snow, it boggles the mind. When we lived in PA back in the 1970's and '80's, we had snow like that too. I don't miss is at all! :-)

  4. Hi Monica! How great to have that natural area bordering your yard, and all the critters too.

    I love pulmonarias too. It's good they're deer resistant! ;)

  5. Monica, I loved the photo of the animal tracks. Isn't it great to have them come to your grden and feeders. Free entertainment on those days when you dont want to get out.

    Your Fiona looks so much like our Gray Girl aka Fat Cat! Same coloring, but I'll bet she is much trimmer than ours.

    Thanks for sharing your snow in pictures-that's the kind of snow I like best. Now if we can just get through this cold spell...

  6. Hi Monica! What a fun surprise!! I couldn't fathom how you'd have photos of your pulmonaria with snowy winter scenes... until I got to that breath of fresh air at the end!!! Thanks for the link. Your plant is drop-dead gorgeous!! :-)

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  8. Cat,
    Gut dass nun alles mit Chilli stimmt! Fiona laesst sich gruessen!

    You're right about the colors; I found info on the Miss Dig website (that's what they call this in Michigan), and it told me that red=electric, orange=telephone and cable TV, yellow=gas/oil, green=storm drains, blue=water, brown=sewer (LOL, that's my favorite color code!), and pink=surveying. Um, in case anyone else was wondering! ;-)

    Of all the wildlife in my yard, I've only seen deer twice (two each time), and I've lived there over six years!

    I like the tracks, too. If you're interested in that kind of stuff, you may like this blog, which talks about all kinds of wildlife (plants and animals): .
    Fiona is indeed a trim little thing; she weighs just under 8 pounds. She's much bigger "on the inside" as she used to be a stray (was abandoned) and learned to fend for herself. The vet told me her coloring is called "dilute tortoise shell"--ooh, fancy!

    I like to think all those years working as a writer/editor have taught me how to make a savvy segue! :)

    I like snow--it's pretty and it's great insulation for plants. I just don't like the bitter cold and we don't have snow cover all four months of winter (Dec-March). This year we've had WAY more snow than I remember since I was a kid in the 1970s.


  9. Beckie,
    Oops, I forgot to paste in the link to the blog I mentioned: Naturespeak.

  10. Hi Monica, everything in your garden is wearing white gnome hats, even the shrubs;)

    I have had such bad luck with winter sowing. Nothing has ever sprouted in my flats. I have a couple containers saved for one last try. This weekend I'm making up two seed trays... We'll see what happens. BTW, I like that cart--perfect.

  11. Ha, our Maggie May also has the owlish ears like Fiona and Chilli!
    Thanks for stopping by! We love your winter wonderland photos!

  12. Pulmonaria are great - they are one of my favorite plants in the garden and with some trimming, look good all season long.

    I also love your owl/cat - cutie!

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  14. Monica, My yard and garden look much the same way this morning--the snow, that is. The poor birds are scrambling for something to eat, and I'm trying to muster up the courage to go outside to feed them. Oh, we Midwesterners are a hardy lot, aren't we?:)

  15. James is SO brave! And I can see the resemblance of Fiona to an owl for sure. Maybe the coloring. Pulmonarias are one of my favorites too! I just ordered Sissingham White. I hope does well. Shady's is looking mighty good!

  16. I can't quite see there, but is James a cat? lots of them just don't venture out into the snow this time of year. Truly an intrepid explorer there!

  17. Nutty Gnome,
    I apologize for deleting your entry--it had been posted twice, so I thought I'd delete the duplicate comment, but Blogger went ahead and deleted both! And it wouldn't let me republish it!
    Sorry! Monica

  18. Marnie,
    I just happened to have the wooden cart/potting bench thingie. Like a lot of things, I got it from my mom who gets tired of things in her own yard! It's a bit rickety at this point, but I like it. I commented in your blog about winter sowing confabulation, and I'm happy to be of any assistance.

    Creek Cats,
    Hello and welcome! We live next to a creek, by the way!

    Blogger is being weird with duplicating some comments. That happened with yours, which is why I deleted one. I do like that pulmonaria reblooms, too!

    We've gotten about four more inches of snow since I've taken the photos and it's even colder today than yesterday! I feed the birds before going to work, and miss watching them eat/play!

    Yes, Fiona has similar coloring to an owl. She looks more convincingly owlish when I'm looking down on her, but I don't have a photo of that. I've added Sissingham White to my wanted list!

    Hello and welcome. Yes, James is a 15-and-a-half year old orange tabby cat. He doesn't go out in the snow every day, but he and Fiona do venture out at least once a week.


  19. Hi Monica,
    Don't worry about deleting my comment - I've not really got to grips with doing blog posts yet anyway!
    My comment was about your wonderful snow - and our total lack of it!
    We've had plenty of thick hoar frost and lots of good old British rain but I dream of having oodles of snow like you've got - I've not seen snow like that since I was a child!

  20. Monica, Wonderful snow photos and your Fiona is an owlishly wise critter. My kitty Coal is neither wise or owlish...but he is fun! We play hide and seek!

    I hope you are keeping warm on these very cold days!


  21. Brrrrr - that looks seriously cold Monica. Here in the UK we have had our coldest start to winter for thirty years but I still have to see a single snowflake :)

  22. Hi there Frozen Faerie, it really is nippy in your neck of the woods. Here the frost is gone and we're back to our regular programme of dull, wet and grey.

    It was nice to see your garden under its blanket of snow as I imagine the plants to be very snug as the proverbail bug under said blanket.

    Yes, cats can be very owlish, it helps when they have great big round eyes like Persians. My Chuck could do a very mean owl in his day.

  23. What great photos! I, too, would love to believe that the dog placed those markers as part of his explorations...after all, I don't see any human footprints there, either.

    Grew up in New Hampshire, and would love to say I miss the snow......

  24. Nutty,
    Whew! I don't mind snow at all. I lived in Stuttgart for six months from January-June and it rained EVERY DAY from Jan-April. It was the coldest winter ever, it felt like!

    Fiona is indeed quite wise and savvy, and can look after herself (she was a stray). James is, um, not so wise but highly "emotionally intelligent" and the sweetest cat ever.

    Crikey! It was MINUS 11 this morning. Eep!

    Snow is nice, dangerously bitter weather is not! :( Fiona looks more owlish from a different angle, but I didn't have a photo!

    Hello and welcome. James is actually a cat, not a dog, but he really doesn't get easily offended! I have a friend in Athens and am always envious of how warm it is in GA. Except in July. And August.


  25. Hi Monica the Garden Faerie, Sorry I haven't stopped in for a while. I'm a bit overwhelmed by the number of bloggers I want to see everyday. Your winter is 'moving along nicely' so to speak (!) as our winter is without the white stuff--and we actually WANT some! It's cold here today tho'--started out at 10 degrees, and that's cold for Northern VA. I love your cat--he looks like mine. Did you already mention that? Someone did...now I can't remember who. My memory is going...ugh. Take care. Jan

  26. I love the snow shots.....although I would not want it. It looks so beautiful when it is fresh....

    Fiona does indeed look like an owl....that really amused me.....

    I to love pulmonaria....the perfect fairy plant.....

    Tks for dropping by my blog...have a good weekend.....

  27. I love living where I can experience the change of seasons, but I wish winter was shorter. Your beautiful pic of the pulmonaria reminds me that spring is not far off.

  28. I love that name, Pulmonaria. It sounds so official, as if it belongs in the National Formulary. Not at all like "lungwort." Thanks for the visit to my site, Monica. I see some familiar names here. Sorry I've missed visiting you before now.

  29. Lovely post..I too love to find duck tracks. The poor things are so hungry this time of year.. Michelle

  30. Love the intrepid kitty, wonder what needed checking on so urgently? Maybe snow covering up all (non human-placed) markings and they need to be replaced? Hilarious. Man, that is cold. I don't think it ever gets to the negatives here. Teens is bad enough! Hope it thaws pretty soon and you can see your seed flats again!

  31. Monica, the seeds arrived. Love your snowy pictures.

  32. Jan basically already said what I wanted to write:) - it's really cold here now as well - just no snow. I have a 4-day weekend coming up and don't even feel like going out much.
    LG, Bek

  33. The pictures are lovely. I would love to have some snow to go with our cold out here in PA. We just have the frigid air, and everything else looks so gray. Of course, its a wonderful time of year for spotting the hawks :)

    The pic of James is great.

  34. Oh my goodness, our Maine Coon cat, Simon, looks so much like an owl at times, too! What do you think?


  35. Jan,
    I know just what you mean--there are so many interesting blogs to read, I, too, find it difficult to keep up with them all, especially as many people update daily or nearly daily! I don't recall seeing photos of you cat; does s/he look more like James (orange tabby) or Fiona (dilute tortie)?

    Hi Cheryl,
    Thanks for dropping by. I've been venturing out into the blogs people who read my blog read! Enjoyed yours.

    I too love having four seasons. I just don't like winter lasting 5 months (Nov-Mar)!

    I'm partial to the names bromeliad and caladium myself! :)

    I admit to not liking the huge flocks of ducks that descend around my feeders -- there's something eerie about it I can't explain -- but I don't mind them one on one. A local Aunt Millie's (bread) oputlet has really cheap past-sell-by-date bread for wildlife and I leave that out for ducks.

    James doesn't go out every day in winter, and only if I've shoveled the porch (for some reason, he can walk on snowy lawn but not snowy paths or porches!)

    Glad the seeds arrived -- hope you're having fun with them. Thanks for adding their photo to your blog!

    I'm freaking out "hearing" you in English! As I said to Jan, yes, I also find it hard to keep up with blogs I enjoy--not only because there are many but because many people seem to update daily or almost daily... so even when I think I'm caught up, very quickly I no longer am!! Aber, jeder wie er kann, gel?!

    Nature Nut,
    I used to see hawks at my two previous houses, but not here (for six years). I think hawks like open areas to sweep into and two sides of my garden are surrounded by woods.

    Yes, Simon (great cat name, by the way!) looks very owlish indeed. The angle of the shot shows off his ears way better than mine did. He's lovely.


  36. I've never heard of pulmonaria...but it's sweet. You're snowy wonderland looks like rest to me! Love your cat talk!

  37. Brrrrr! We haven't had snow of that depth or quality in my part of England since 1979. We have to be greatful for warm Caribbean water finding its way up to our shores. Beautiful Pulmonaria - our first ones are opening outdoors now, mainly Pulmonaria rubra which is always more precocious than the others.

    Belated thanks for your comments on my blog. I love pretentious words for post titles. If I can't think of one, I just make them up - so don't expect to find all of them in a dictionary!

  38. Conscious Gardener,
    Pulmonaria is sometimes called lungwort, too. It grows in zones 4 to 9, so it should work for you in Austin. They tolerate shade and are still colorful. Noogie!

    Consarnation! (Speaking of making up words...) I can't believe your pulmonaria are already blooming! Well, of course I can. England (though I'm not sure what part you're in) is much milder than Michigan. I once visited London/Cornwall in March and the camellia were blooming! We're still under snow in march, MAYBE lucky enough to see a snowdrop in LATE March--but only if the snow has melted enough for them to push up.


  39. Monica,

    That is so cool that you have ducks on your porch. All I ever get is a pigeon or two. Want to trade?