Snow curls

In the right conditions, snow curls as it slides off our roof.

It’s raining today, aka miserable winter weather for a guy who loves snow and snow sports. What little snow we had left is melting quickly. As a fun side effect of the past week’s moderate temperatures (highs just above freezing, lows just below freezing), however, the snow on our garage roof is curling. What the heck? read on.

Snow slowly slides off our garage roof as it melts, rising up where it hits the snow-retainer bars. It froze into this position a week ago! (Photo from two days ago, 14 January.)
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Morning sun

Sunshine and fresh snow brings happiness.

On a morning like today, with an overnight snowfall coating the landscape in fresh powder, and the rising sun bringing the day’s first glow to the trees on the opposite side of the river, it’s hard not to be grateful for the beautiful world in which we live. Happy new year!

Snowfall

New snow for the new year.

Yesterday morning brought us a nice snowfall, re-decorating the lawns and trees as they should be this time of year. It was a heavy wet snow, never amounting to more than 2-3″, but was pretty while it lasted. Sebastian was especially fascinated, spending hours on various windowsills, waiting for the moment when a sheet of snow would slide off the metal rooftop and, with a earth-shaking whump, hit the ground below.

Sebastian watches for chunks of snow to slide off the rooftop, while a wet snowflakes accumulate outside.

We’d made pizza the night before, and kept the pizza oven warm overnight. This morning I shoveled a pathway and stoked it up, making it ready for the next big experiment: cedar-smoked salmon.

The pizza oven is fired up and ready to go, during a snowstorm.

The salmon came out really well, though Andy says we learned a lot of lessons and it will surely be awesome next time. 🙂

Hoppin’ John

A southern tradition.

We celebrate New Years’ Day with two traditional foods from the South Carolina Lowcountry: Hoppin’ John and Collard Greens. These classic dishes were inspired by African traditions and have been a New Year’s tradition in the Carolinas for at least a hundred years. Pam (who grew up in lowcountry South Carolina) made a wonderful meal for us this year, guaranteeing us good luck and financial prosperity: “Eating those two dishes will ensure prosperity in the new year, and the collards represent greenbacks and the black-eyed peas coins. Or so they say.” [Moss 2014]

A small serving of collards (left) and hoppin’ john (right).

In preparing this post, however, I looked around a bit and found that fascinating article ([Moss 2014] from a Charleston food writer in 2014) about the history of Hoppin’ John… providing interesting background on the African origins of this dish, and how the commercial evolution of the key ingredients (bacon, rice, beans) mean it’s difficult to really accomplish the original quality of this dish. Next time, we’ll strive to find the original ingredients and see how it turns out!

Curry pizza

Tasty experiments!

One nice thing about a having a pizza oven at home is that you make a lot more pizza… and start experimenting. We are also lucky to have a curry-leaf plant at home; its pungent leaves are commonly used in South Indian cooking. So I made a simple pizza by spreading a thin layer of curry sauce (admittedly, from a jar) and sprinkling on some fresh curry leaves. Yum!


Looking forward to more experiments this winter!

a hot fire prepares the oven for more pizza…

White Christmas

Unseasonably warm.

About a month ago, as it became clear we would be staying home for Christmas rather than spending Christmas with family in SC, Andy looked on the bright side: the potential for his first “white Christmas”, with a snowy landscape all around. This, his 20th Christmas, is the first time we’ve spent it in New Hampshire; last year we were in Switzerland, twice before in India, and otherwise always in South Carolina. No snow in any of those places!

So when winter arrived last week, with a glorious foot and a half of fresh powder, it seemed he would get his wish!

Our home in the season’s first real snowstorm.

Last night, however, a terrible warm front blasted through, bringing temperatures near 60Âş and a torrential downpour. Most of the snow (other than snowbanks) melted rapidly… from shin-deep to bare ground overnight.

Overnight rain and warm temps decimated the snow on Christmas Eve, leaving us without a white Christmas.

Still, it appears that Santa made it through the storm! … lured as always by Granny Kate’s famous Christmas Cookies.

Santa Claus came through! lured by Granny Kate’s Christmas Cookies.

At dawn, Sebastian identifies the presents he is most interested in opening, but the children are still nestled all snug in their beds.

Sebastian is ready to open presents at sunrise on Christmas morning.

Merry Christmas!

Home woods

One of my favorite places to go when I have little time or ambition is just across the street. Between River Road and Route 10, between Hewes Brook and Grant Brook, is a sizeable block of roadless forest, with rolling hills, steep ravines, and a variety of forest regions ranging from firs to pines to maples and oaks. Most of it is managed for timber, so there is ample room to meander under the mature trees and there are skidder trails here and there that provide walkable paths – some even skiable. The hill rises steeply across from our house, giving one an immediate workout, but once up on the ridge, or down in the valley on the other side, it’s a magical place.

A hardwood forest – seen in black & white.

I mostly visit here in winter, on snowshoes or skis, traversing above the litter of the forest floor and pondering the many tracks animals leave behind. Deer tracks are never out of sight; mouse and squirrel tracks are common; bear and fox are an occasional treat. There were plenty of deer tracks criss-crossing my path today, as my snowshoes waded through the fresh powder laid down by that storm two days ago. I happened to look up at the right moment to see a huge owl gliding through the treetops ahead of me, totally soundless in this quiet snowscape. Someday I hope to have a chance to photograph these elusive neighbors.

Snowshoeing through an area dominated by firs and pines.

When I head into these woods I rarely have a plan or a particular goal; I follow my whims, noting landmarks familiar from two decades of wandering or exploring new directions to see what I might discover. Today I went further north than ever before, eventually popping out on the Lyme Hill – Grant Brook trail, as expected, giving me an easy exit down to River Road for the walk back home.

Bobcat visit

A special treat.

We’ve lived in Lyme for over twenty years and I have spent time in the woods of New Hampshire for over thirty years. I’ve seen nearly every large mammal â€“ deer, moose, bear, coyote, fox, and more â€“ except a bobcat. So I was especially excited to spot a bobcat, at a distance and from behind, at the edge of a cornfield in September. Even then, because of the distance and the circumstance, I was unsure whether it was a bobcat until I’d returned home for close examination of the two photos I managed to snap before it disappeared.

Today, however, I had the good luck to look out the window, across the snowy lawn and the icy river to a dark figure moving along the Vermont shore. A bobcat was exploring the river’s edge, as if to test the ice and consider a move to New Hampshire. I grabbed my Nikon and the 200-500mm lens and collected a couple hundred shots in the two minutes it took him to walk out of sight. Even at 500mm it still takes a tight crop to get a good look, below. See the gallery for a few more, including a nice look at his face while he pauses to drink from the river’s surface.

A Vermont bobcat explores the river shore across from our house.

An uncropped example is below.

[uncropped] A Vermont bobcat explores the river shore across from our house.

Such a beautiful animal. I hope s/he visits again soon!

Enjoy the snow

The day after a snowstorm can be a wonderful thing. Today was bright and sunny, the trees were covered in snow, and the meadows glistened with fresh powder. I had a little time to explore the yard this morning, and I went out snowshoeing with the kids in late afternoon. I’ve added a few photos to the gallery, starting here. Here’s just one:

Andy and Mara snowshoe on the trail around Crossroads in Lyme.

We ended the day in the center of Lyme, outside the home of the Lyme Historians, where they had decorated an antique sleigh and invited families to stop by. It was a photo op not to be missed!

Mara and Andy in an antique sleigh in Lyme NH.

Winter arrives

Finally! Winter has finally arrived, bringing us a snowstorm to paint the barren ground white and dust all the trees in a blanket of fluffy powder. At 7am, when the woodstove was humming with a cozy fire, and the children are all snug in their beds, I went out for a quick look around. I measured the snow depth in the driveway at 9″, and the snow was still falling fast. Two hours later, I went for a long walk, enjoying the swish of my boots through the shin-deep snow and the squeaky crunch of each footstep. On return, at 9am, the snow was now 12″ deep on the driveway – three inches in two hours – and still falling hard.

I don’t have much time to be photographic this morning, but here is a quick gallery of photos. Perhaps my favorite was this little mouse, who I first spotted hopping along the roadside. He seemed to be looking for something – perhaps the entrance to his underground home, now lost under the deep snow. He let me get closer, and eventually he scampered toward me through the deep ruts left by the few intrepid morning drivers. He found shelter between my legs, tucking in his tail, clearly grateful for a moment of peace as my legs blocked the falling snowflakes. We shared this spot, at the center of the road, snow falling quietly all around, until a car came rumbling along. I picked him up and set him beside the road, and we both went back to our day.

A mouse shelters under my legs.