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Tempest in a crock pot

No one said anything about this ⇑ starting up again today. But I’ll ignore it because this ⇓ is about to jump-start the cooking day up here on Weathering Heights where cuisine frequently is dictated by the weather.

Any idea what it might be? I’ll give you a slight hint. Many of the ingredients form the base for a variety of comfort meals, and when they are allowed to slowly simmer for a few hours, then just sit and get to know each other overnight in the fridge before being reheated, are better the second or third day. Although, truth be told, there rarely is anything left for a third day.

And, speaking of the second and third days, here’s the weather forecast for the Weathering Heights area for Monday and Tuesday.

We’ll start the week with some snow showers and a high of barely 29˚, with a bit of a breeze now and then. Growing darker toward evening, then hitting a nippy 12˚ as the overnight low. Tuesday will see us beginning a temperature uptrend, with a high of 35˚ as we wend our way into the 60s later in the week.

I wonder what will be on the menu by then?

Let the sun shine

The oft-asked question:

“How can you stand living in the Northeast, with all that snow and cold weather? Why not move somewhere warmer.”

The answer is simple. As I strolled to the communal mailbox gazebo here on Weathering Heights this afternoon I couldn’t help but smile to myself. No heavyweight coat needed, no hat, no gloves, no snow on the road or walkway. And this was just a day after the first appreciable snowfall of The Winter It Didn’t Snow.

What we also did NOT have this winter:

Tornadoes

Droughts

Dust storms

Hurricanes

Earthquakes

Sub-zero temperatures

Proof of global warming? I’m still not sold on that one, particularly the version that says we’re responsible for the latest warming cycle among zillions the planet has experienced over the eons.

I think it’s more karma, the kind that is making Snowbirds rethink going south for the winter and bragging about it all summer when they’re at home back here. We’re now able to pose a question for them:

“How can you stand living part-time in the South, with all the cold temperatures, rain and tornadoes? Why not stay here where it’s cool and calm?”

Look, look goose

The sound of the avian call-and-response floated not far above my head as I stepped out of the house here on Weathering Heights.

Hearing Canada geese communicating as they make their way to and fro is nothing new around this part of Upstate New York. We are, after all, on the Eastern Seaboard flyway for migrating birds. When some of them decide this is far enough south to winter over they are pervasive year-round. No, the thing that caught my attention on this particular day was that in the midst of the first real snowstorm of this unusually mild winter the geese were headed north. Going home, as it were.

This was only one of numerous signs of confusion in nature this winter. Some spring-blooming plants have been sending out emissary shoots to tentatively test the air. Robins, traditionally not on the scene until becoming a first sign of spring, have been abundant at our feeders for much of the winter.

Here on the first day of March, the iconic Farmers’ Almanac prognosticates that things won’t change much through the month, which may mean a drought of sorts could result from the lack of snow pack in the mountains regions that supply not only local water, but New York City’s main supply as well. To wit: “1st – 3rd, Light snow/flurries. 8th – 11th, fair. 12th – 15th, light rain, then fair. 16th – 19th, showers, heavy thunderstorms. 20th – 23rd, fair, pleasant; 24th – 27th, showery, windy, then fair. 28th – 31st, increasing clouds, unsettled by the 31st.”


A special day, in so many ways

It figures. What I have been referring to up here on Weathering Heights as “The Winter It Didn’t Snow” was, in one fell swoop, erased from the record books on a day that only rolls around once every four years.

Yes, Leap Year Day 2012 was ushered in by the first significant snowfall we’ve had in this part of Upstate New York. It also re-ushered in this not-quite-daily, sort-of-weather-centric blog that has been on hiatus for a variety of reasons since last spring. In other words, winter is back and so am I.

What else is going on this special day? Some very odd things, to be sure.

  • North Korea, which has been content to rattle its nuclear saber while its population endures year after year of famine, surprisingly announced it has agreed to stop nuclear tests, long-range missile launches and nuclear enrichment activities at its Yongbyon nuclear complex in exchange for food aid from the United States.
  • The credit card-sized $35 Raspberry Pi computer went on sale today, crashing its distributors’ websites on the way to selling out within hours of launch. The fully-programmable British PC can plug into any TV and can power 3D graphics and Blu-ray video playback.
  • In celebrity “news,” speculation is that Snooki is pregnant and Angelina is anorexic. If either requires more explanation, please skip to the next item.
  • A day after word leaked that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was going to require automakers to install rear-view cameras in all cars by 2014, the agency formally announced it would not.
  • And, finally, The Onion reported on the GOP presidential primary results from Michigan thusly: “Romney Thanks State He Was Born And Raised In For Just Barely Giving Him Enough Votes To Beat Total Maniac.”

• Nature offers another lesson

I awakened at first light this morning to what sounded like a steady rain hitting the gutters on my roof. It took a minute for the usual awakening fuzziness to clear before I realized it wasn’t raining. It was the sound of the remnants of last week’s ice storm melting away.

The disaster that hit the Northeast and left literally hundreds of thousands of homes without power claimed its victims in deaths, accidents, lost business and general discomfort. But, as usual, the wildlife that surrounds us up here on Weathering Heights persevered nicely.

As I drove around to check on the status of several people, I glanced toward one of the large ponds that helps nurture and shelter the huge flocks of Canada geese that both decorate and plague our region. There, placidly swimming in the frigid water, were dozens of the big birds, acting as if nothing untoward were going on weatherwise.

winterwaterbirds

Speaking of the topic of birds, Andre, the larger of The Other Beings that co-inhabit our house up here overlooking the Hudson River, isn’t given to sudden movements unless there is food involved. This morning was a different matter entirely.

What had struck a chord at the very center of his feline being was the huge blue jay perched in the crabapple tree outside the kitchen window, the one where the ice had finally departed. The smaller finches, nuthatches, cardinals, woodpeckers, titmouses (titmice, titmeese? … I never can quite get it straight) and assorted wild birds that usually perch there awaiting their turn at the suet and mixed-seed cages had been temporarily spooked by big bird.

Whiskers standing straight out, tail twitching, that funny little mewling noise deep in the throat that beings of his persuasion often employ when contemplating winged potential food. Finally, I thought, he’s distracted from breakfast and ready to exercise his Creator’s design by making a mad dash at the window to scare off the cocky intruder.

Then, Lily, the smaller (but not by much) of The Other Beings, glided sleepily down the stairs from the loft where she’d spent the night on her comfy pillow bed, ready for breakfast and mewing at Andre to join her at the dish.

That broke the magical spell and we all lapsed into the morning routine. A forkful of tuna for each of them, a bowl of fresh water, and then a bowl of crunchy stuff to keep their tummies satisfied and their teeth sparking clean.

There still was hope for them to pay attention to the world around them. Morning sunshine actually was spilling over Bald Mountain just behind us. However, geese, wild turkeys, cackling crows and other bully birds we’re used to were nowhere in sight for a change. The rainbow of smaller creatures would soon be twittering and scampering about in full view before heading off on their migratory ways.

Things are getting back to normal, looking winter-sloppy and very wet, yet the mighty trees that had bowed down under the weight of the clinging ice have reasserted themselves once more and are standing tall.

The bird, the trees, the deer, the leaden skies … . No matter how many office towers we erect, traffic roundabouts we install, housing developments we sprout, the wildlife keeps reminding us we’re just a nod or two away from unspoiled nature.