Posts Tagged With: snow
The weather today has been bizarre! We’ve had snow, ice, sleet, rain, sun, and every combination in between. The noise you hear in the video is actually the snow and ice hitting the ground and trees because it was so loud! While walking down for evening chores I noticed the snow and ice had hardened quickly enough that I wasn’t even making footprints as I walked! I am thankful for this beautiful valley, dogs that like to snuggle, and woodheat– I love being out here! Yay farmsitting!
Today was the Kickapoo Valley Reserve‘s Winter Festival in La Farge.
While I didn’t make it for any of the morning activities (flint knapping, dog sledding, ice cave hike, live raptor talk, and more!) I did get to go on a brilliant hike with Chuck Hatfield and learn about beavers– I absolutely loved it!!!
[ Click the first picture then go through the slide show if you want to read the captions or see bigger versions of the images!]
I learned quite a bit about beavers in college but it was nice to get a refresher and actually see some dams and lodges! Coincidentally I also read about beavers last night in Wintering by Diana Kappel-Smith. She made some interesting notes about them, my favorite being that even when it is below freezing outside, it is still cozy inside of a beaver’s lodge thanks to all the warm bodies in there. Chuck told us that beavers don’t leave home until 2 sometimes 3 years old meaning that at any given time there could be upwards of 10 beavers living in a lodge! Something else that I find fascinating about beavers that wasn’t touched on today is that the have a special gland inside their body that pumps super acidic juices into the beavers stomach so that they can process all the cellulose. Wood is made of cellulose which is undigestable to most except for mushrooms and apparently beavers! Other things that eat diets high in cellulose like ruminants actually have micro-organisms inside their bodies that help them break it down. The beaver just gets cooler and cooler! My last fun beaver fact, that I just learned through the wonders of the internet, is that beavers exude a substance called castoreum for marking territory that was often used in medicines. Turns out that since beavers favor willow that this exudant is actually high in salicylic acid (aka aspirin) which explains its medicinal effects! Fascinating! Thanks Kickapoo Valley Reserve and Chuck Hatfield for putting on such a fun and thought provoking hike!
Big adventures today so I’ll write a big post later this week. Until then, enjoy these photos of recent excitements.
Super Scrabble! It’s like normal Scrabble but with more letter tiles and more spaces to play!
Squirrel House! The squirrels have been very active lately and it’s fun to watch them hop around the yard. I have noticed that they tend to use the same tracks over and over again. Our back yard looks like a maze of trails but in the front yard all roads lead to the maple.
In the News:
Remember last winter when I posted about making snow ice cream? Well compare my blog post (from January) to this post on NPR.org today and I think you will be amused like I am– the pictures are practically the same! Different recipes but same general idea.
The verdict is out: Snow ice cream is awesome and best eaten out of glasses with blue rims!
Photos of Draco and Solstice fun:
From playing in the snow we so desperately wanted to celebrating Winter Solstice in our own way, the last few days have been a really special time for Jamie and me. On Thursday we spent most of the day either outside in the snow (hiking, sledding, playing) or inside enjoying eachothers company. Yesterday we had an unplugged day with no computers, radio, or other things until after sunset so we could fully enjoy the shortest day of the year. We went hiking at Hubbard Hills, gathered fallen branches and pine cones from around town to decorate our house, played several games of Scrabble, and exchanged gifts by candle light as the sun was setting. Last night we had friends over for more Scrabble, beer, pickled green beans and carrots, potato soup, and brownies. We wanted to have a party but when only two people showed up it ended up being exactly what we wanted all along.
These last two days have really gotten me thinking about our connection to the seasons and nature. Taking note of the moon cycles, changing of seasons, and changing of the light is something I make a point of paying attention to– and something I know a lot of people take for granted. Winter storm Draco brought Viroqua a beautiful snow cover and while walking around town through the snow on a beautiful sunny day, I couldn’t help but notice how few other people were out there enjoying it. On Thursday we went to the park for sledding and there was about a dozen or so kids and their adults there having a blast but I still feel like there should have been more. Where is everyone on these days? Are they inside reading and playing Scrabble or are they sitting in front of the TV, zoning out. My guess would be the latter.
In the after school program for middle schools where I work we recently had the kids make Keynote presentations about themselves to present to the class. We gave them free reign to put whatever they wanted on it. Almost every kid talked about music videos they like, songs they listen to, video games they play, and tv shows they watch. On their “Things I like” page no one mentioned hiking or play outside or making snowmen or anything of the sort. I think part of the reason is because it is way cooler to say you like “Gangam style” than it is to say you like building fairy houses but how much of it is because the kids spend most of their time indoors?
If you walk past Pleasant Ridge Waldorf School in Viroqua on almost school day whether it is raining or snowing or perfectly sunny, you will see kids outside playing and having an absolute blast. The importance of being outside and playing trumps the fear that they could get a cold or get hurt. They are taught to dress for the weather. If you pass by the public school when it is raining or super cold out then you would think school must have been canceled that day because it is deserted outside. What does this teach children? What doesn’t it teach children?
I don’t have answers to these questions right now. All I have are my observations and opinions. My gut tells me that the teachers in the Waldorf school are doing something right here though. I strongly believe when it snows there should be kids outside playing in it. We should be teaching children to notice the changing of the light and encouraging imaginative play. And adults should be out there too. Get outside if you can or at least take note of when the sun rises and sets each day if you can’t actually get out there. Keep the heat in your house lower than you normal and simply wear more clothes because it’s winter and unless you live in Texas you don’t need to be wearing a tank top this time of year. Take 10 minutes with which you would be distracting yourself on the computer and look out the window instead. Watch what the squirrels are doing. Notice what types of birds are around, what ones aren’t. And if you are up for an added challenge, try to only eat things that are in season. Strawberries in December is ridiculous unless you live someone that grows them that time of year.
The world didn’t end yesterday which means there is still plenty of time to get the know the earth if you aren’t friends already!
Now stop reading blogs and go play outside!
Around the corner and down a hill from my house, is a fabulous tract of woods on the edge of town called Hubbard Hills. The woods are owned (as much as any woods are owned) by a family on the street who have built many trails through the land and allow people to use them for recreational purposes. It’s a really spectacular place and is beautiful in all seasons. On one of those trails, at a specific spot, is my super secret special place I like to go to ponder life, work through things, and just be with nature. It is a place just for me. It is so secret that this is the first time I have ever mentioned it to anyone. That’s right interwebs, I’m telling the whole world before I ever say it out loud.
Today is a very special day. It is the 3 year anniversary of the day I graduated from college, the day I stopped religiously editing my grad school application and finally put it in the mail, it is the day I had my first snow day off from work, and the day I almost got shot at my sit spot! To celebrate and reflect on my accomplishments, adventures, and misadventures over the past 3 years I decided to go on a hike through the snowy woods to my sit spot. I hiked and I hiked through the magical woods. It was peaceful and beautiful. I saw fun little tracks in the snow and followed them around for a while. Eventually I came to beloved sit spot. I’ve been going to this spot since June and this is the first time I have ever been there in snow. I took out a plastic bag for a seat and settled in for a while. The trees I have grown so used to gazing upon looked extra enchanting with inches covered in snow on them. I thought for a while about all that has happened and made some wishes for the next three years. Then the magic exploded.
BANG! BANG! Gun shots. I’ve been there so many times and never encountered anyone that it never even occurred to me that it would be a great place to go hunting. How silly of me. I live in Wisconsin and it’s hunting season! My first instinct for some reason was the jump up and scream , “PERSON! I’M A PERSON!” Seriously, Annie? I got no response, heard no snow crunching near me, and saw no other footsteps so most likely the person wasn’t even near me but I said good bye to my spot anyway and left immediately.
Next time I go out there, I will remember to wear orange.
[Note: None of these pictures are off my sit spot but simply from my walk around my neighborhood. I refuse to take any pictures there because it is my sacred ground.]
Jamie and I woke up at 4am to see the snow as it started falling. At a much more reasonable hour we went to the co-op for hot drinks and snacks. Viroqua is beautiful in the snow!