Out of the Doldrums

I know, I know: it’s been a while. A few of you dear readers have not been shy about letting me know :) We’ve been doing things, even things worth sharing, but I’ve been stuck in some late winter doldrums. I realize the calendar says it’s spring, but it’s still winter here.

East Bay, as of Sunday. It’s still frozen; the ice out there is just clear.
still winter

Our neighborhood, yesterday
spring snow

Also yesterday, so it’s not all snow, but there’s enough
spring snow-2

Fortunately, we have had some good family and friend time to break things up. We went to Ohio and had a terrific family visit at the end of March (more on that later), and then shortly after we got back, we hosted our friends Melinda and Matt on a three-day eating marathon.

Melinda and Matt, in front of a frozen East Bay – on spring break
Melinda and Matt

I’d classify their trip otherwise, but really, all we did was talk, eat, and sleep. I managed to take Petey on a few walks, so it was entirely gluttonous…just mostly. Hanging out with non-local food lovers underscores how ridiculously spoiled for choice we are. And even after visiting several of our area favorites, Trattoria Stella wins best food by a landslide. So, next time you’re in my neck of the woods, give me a shout and we’ll go out for a swanky dinner. Or even better, a delicious and more affordable lunch!

Our lunch at Polish Kitchen. Sharing bad photos because a friend always asks and I finally remembered – by which I mean I borrowed Tony’s phone and grabbed these shots well after we’d started eating! Pierogi on the left, goulash on the right.

Because the winter’s been dragging, I have been less maniacal about grabbing the camera. I’ve still been outside quite a bit, because cabin fever strikes daily even if the shutterbug doesn’t. But, thanks largely to warmer temperatures, I’ve started picking up the Nikon more again, and it feels good. Also, look at this cuteness. My heart asplode. Aren’t they just the cutest? I have another super-cute one lined up for Facebook later, so keep your eyes peel for that…assuming you like interspecies love ;)

And, last, some color. Because our world is becoming increasingly colorful. The drifts along the road are still a good bit above my waist, but there are clear spots in the yard, and the other day I actually had to take my coat off and walk in a tank top. Spring is on the way my friends. Enjoy it well :)

Between Two Moons

Yesterday was a brilliant, cloudless wonder sandwiched between two full moons. I awoke around 7am (early for me – went to bed at 1am…) to see if I could capture the setting full moon. The temperature had plummeted to -4F overnight, and I was tempted to return to the toasty warmth of my pre-dawn bed, but I dressed and grabbed my gear. The sky was clear – perfect for moon viewing. It hung creamy yellow in the sky, blazing orange as it dipped ever westward. As the sun contemplated rising behind me, the moon sunk below the horizon ahead.

Atmospheric disturbances warble the moon’s edges as it sinks lower

Those blankets still beckoned, so I returned to them for a brief sleep while Tony prepared to fly to Atlanta for a couple of days. After I dropped him off at the airport, Petey and I walked a few laps in the park, shivering in the cold, but luxuriating in the sparkling sun.

Tony’s view from the plane – frozen East Grand Traverse Bay

Since we live and work together, Tony’s absence means the house feels particularly quiet. I’m not great at staying inside under the best of circumstances, but when it’s just me and Petey, there’s little keeping me in the house – not even 12F highs in the middle of March. Thus, as the sun’s light shined down in golden rays in the late afternoon, we suited up for another walk.

A little over a mile in, Petey let me know that he was cold, so we jogged back home. But, sunset approached, and after that the moonrise. For symmetry’s sake, I returned to the same place I watched the morning’s moonset – overlooking the frozen Lake Skegemog.
sunset

Not sure where I wanted to photograph the moonrise, I ended up in a valley, hoping I’d get a decent shot. The sky darkened, stars began to appear, and the temperature tumbled. Eventually, the bright, bright moon rose above the nearly black hills, officially marking the end of a bright, bright day. Here’s hoping yours shone as well :)
moonrise-2

Spring Is on the Way

spring barn

Spring is on the way.

fresh snow-08

We can’t see the grass anywhere, and the snowdrifts are still up to my collar bones, but spring is on the way.

It may still look and feel just like winter, but I can tell. I know all the signs.

These sweet girls visited us on their Spring Break, and we did all kinds of spring things, like sledding, snowy hiking, and ice caving.

Also, we just celebrated the transition to Daylight Saving Time, colloquially called “Spring Forward,” so it must be almost spring.

And it’s the middle of March, which is when spring arrives. So it’s definitely on its way.

The pavement pieces that tile our road were clear for two days, so spring is sure to arrive soon.

Why just today we went skiing and then hiking through snowpack – two quintessential springtime activities.


The lakes are still frozen solid, and the winds bring frostbite in moments.

moonrise

But there’s light in the sky until 9:00pm.

post sunset

And it did rain the other day. So yes, spring really is on its way. It’s just that it could be winter again by time it arrives.

A note about my sanity: I’m not really that upset about this winter. It’s been beautiful, as you can see from this slew of photos, mostly taken during this morning’s sunrise over the fresh snow. It’s surely been a long, cold winter, but it hasn’t been without its rewards. We’ll enjoy whatever weather comes our way, and will savor the springtime even more when it does arrive. In July. ;)

Also, many thanks to my Crazy (formerly) Goan Friend for the nudge to write again :)

A Southern Respite

At the very end of February, Tony and I packed a few things in a carry-on bag and hopped a jet (okay, two) down to visit some friends in Orlando. We had no plans; we were just getting out of Dodge for the weekend. I could chronicle the things we did, but it would quickly become embarrassing, because the vast majority of the list would consist of things like “ate donuts again” and “had another large high fat, high sugar frappucino.” So instead, just a smattering of my favorite things…aside from all the food.

Color. Sure, we’re getting more and more sun (thank you time change!), but still our world Up North is mostly black and white, with occasionally cheerful blue skies. Our friends’ neighborhood was lined with live oaks draped in Spanish moss, and dotted with vibrant flowers. And the grass – Florida’s crab grass (St. Augustine grass?) is so springy! I forgot that stepping on it feels a bit like wearing moon shoes. Or how I imagine that feels.


Ease of walking. We took a few walks around the neighborhood – in the same clothes we were wearing inside the house (which included flip flops!). This is a big deal, because our walks for the past few months have involved artfully layering so that you’re both warm and comfortable.

Conversation. I think I actually came home a little hoarse. When we weren’t eating, we were pretty much chatting or sleeping, with the balance tipped far toward “chatting.” One day of our trip, Jed ended up having to work 15 hours (not hyperbole), so we hung out with his girlfriend Victoria all day…which could easily have been awkward. Thankfully, she’s more adept at socializing than Tony and I, so we had a great time.


And then she paid Jed back by leaving him on his own with us for a day while she worked. I’m not sure who came out ahead, but I do know there was a trip to a flower garden, plus donuts and coffee, so I think it was me.
Orlando-9

Live oaks and Spanish moss. I realize that these are practically on the list twice, but look at them. Why aren’t all trees this magnificent and cloaked with these beards?
Orlando-10

Astonishment. The day Jed had to work included him filming the City of Orlando’s Blues-B-Q (still not sure why they didn’t just go with the easier-to-say “Blues and BBQ”) event, to which he acquired VIP passes for us. It was attended by a large crowd (not my favorite), but a friendly crowd (makes up for the size almost entirely). Denise Lasalle, a 75-year old woman recognized as a “Queen of the Blues” performed a few songs/acts, which I had thought were one-offs, but in my attempts to find some video of the night, I have since learned are not. If you can youtube, and are not at work (because, seriously, NSFW) go ahead and have a listen. If you’re in a hurry, just skip ahead to about 7:50. And since I cannot top that, I’ll leave you here where I’ll pick you up next time. Stay classy :)

Tuesday’s Gone – A Midweek Dune Climb

It was tough to tell on Tuesday who was more restless: me or Petey. For some reason he was a friskopotamus, and I was having trouble sitting still because it was warm (slightly above freezing) and dazzlingly sunny. Eventually we decided it would be best for all of us if we took a hike. Half an hour later, we were on our way to a trail in the Sleeping Bear Dunes that we hadn’t hiked before, though we had hiked near it to a shipwreck. Of course, half an hour later, unpredicted clouds had also besmirched my bluebird skies. You win some, you lose some.

Again, as on previous winter hikes, we parked on a road and then trudged through snow to get to the trailhead. There had been enough snowshoers ahead of us, though, that the walk in wasn’t too bad – especially considering the half a foot of snow we had just gotten. I can’t say that I prefer the clouds, but at least they were the kind that brings interest instead of flat, featureless grey (that’s what we had yesterday, so I can say this with certainty).

See? Look at that drama

We crested a dune – which are far easier to scale when frozen than when the sands are sliding beneath your toes – and were astonished at sweeping view. I took pictures, but didn’t keep any of them, because every stitch of water in the vista was frozen and capped with snow – a good reason to go back :) Still, Tony and I happily took in the view while Petey happily ignored it any the wildlife cavorting in the distance. He was taken by the grasses poking up directly beside the trail.

We followed the snowshoe path down through a valley to the shore…where the view wasn’t much different than from above. We climbed out a short distance onto the ice, but the earlier sun had melted some of the fresh snow, and it had puddled.

Above and inside an ice cave


The upshot is that the view of the shore was pretty cool, and one we don’t often get a chance to see.
pano

Deciding that we didn’t want to wander on the ice – a combination of possible hidden puddles and other potential dangers hidden under the snow – we began the ascent back up the dune.

Though the hike was enjoyable, it felt a bit stunted. After we emerged from the snow-pack, we walked along the road simply enjoying the ease of movement on the cleared pavement before we began our drive back home.

Since it’s on the way, we stopped in Empire for a glimpse at the sunset. Tony and Petey stayed in the car, while I traipsed about with the camera. Cautious because of the sun and heat, I stayed on ice over water I knew wasn’t deep. I was exceedingly glad I did. After I finished taking the last photo in the gallery below, I set my sites on the beach, and began making my way there. As I climbed over a small ice mound, I slipped, and my foot punched through the snow into one of those cold puddles I feared. I pulled it out, re-situated myself, and promptly repeated the fun with my other foot. Though my heart was racing and my feet were soaked and freezing I wasn’t panicking. But I was exceptionally glad that I was only over water that would be up to my knees even in the summer. Phew. Hope you have a warm, dry week :)