One of the reasons we moved to Maine was because it had “weather.” No monotonous parade of days, one just like another. Instead, here we are treated to wildly careening weather moods, a bipolar medley, where an afternoon can seem to change seasons in just a few hours. These past weeks have been weather-filled, shaping our days around the world outside.
We had too many days with low-ceiling clouds, reminding me of Anchorage winters, dark and gray. It’s my least favorite weather, making me feel a bit gray myself. Even the starlings looked a bit depressed.
Of course, being Maine, the gray didn’t last long. The skies cleared, with brilliant sunrises, acting like rose-colored glasses on the morning.
On winter solstice, the sunrise was particularly spectacular, with a light pillar, created by ice crystals in the air.
It started smallish and very red. Soon the pillar grew much taller and turned golden, with the ice making a partial rainbow over to the left.
Then a jet, with its contrail, appeared to fly right through the pillar. A nice way to mark the return of light.
The clear days brought frigid temperatures. Too cold for photographs. I tried in vain to get pictures of the cardinals, brilliant on the snow and all fluffed up red against the cold. But my fingers gave out before the camera-shy birds ventured close.
We had several heavy snow dumps, silencing and softening, challenging our snowblower, and making lace of our fence.
One night brought a nor’easter, a stormy turmoil of warm Atlantic and cold polar winds, making the house creak and groan through the dark hours and leaving, mysteriously, caterpillars on the pristine morning snow.
Where they came from, I don’t know. But some were still alive and crawling futilely across the frigid crust. Capp was fascinated. He may have eaten one. **Update** the caterpillar mystery was solved by arlingwoman. They are Noctua pronuba, or winter cutworms–a nasty garden and agricultural pest. Yuck.
The snow was followed by rain, then a quick temperature plunge, which transformed twigs and berries into icy works of art.
More gray days, more frigid days, and then–boom (the winds actually were somewhat booming) –today we had a January thaw. In Alaska, we called the warm southern winter-melting winds Chinooks. I don’t think the thawing winds have a specific name here, but they feel like Chinooks, transforming winter into a brief spring in a blink.
My walk today was warm, blue and blustery overhead, mud-filled at feet level, and lichen-filled at eye level.
Somehow the warm weather and sun seemed to make the lichens and moss pop with map-like landscapes and fractal faces.
As we roll with the weather outside, we remain busy–too busy actually–with hunting for another dog, pup-training, quilting, spinning, tree and seed ordering, library volunteering, spring planning, snow-clearing, fire-wood gathering, cooking, and winter maintenance. Maybe, just maybe, we will slow down for a month in February.