Saturday, February 11, 2012

Surviving Winter

My post title is not quite accurate, since winter here in Virginia has been incredibly mild. I read about unusual snows in Europe and the northwest has had its share of cold and icy weather. We have had two dustings . . .knock on wood, and I know that winter is not over yet, unless you are a daffodil in my garden.
The flowers in my gardens and elsewhere on the east coast are very confused. My phlox has bloomed on and off all winter. The Dusty Miller in a pot on the outside steps never died. A Rose of Sharon in the small town nearby is in full bloom. My sister says the azaleas in Philadelphia are also blooming. I've loved this mild winter, and certainly have not complained about the three measly times I had to scrape frost off the windshield, but I worry that the weather will screw up our trees, bushes and flowers this spring. Not to mention the stink bugs, flies, beetles and ticks. We've had several hard frosts, but the vet said there have been cases of Lyme disease all winter. I foresee summer coming along with hordes of chewing and sucking insects. Okay, call me doomsday, and you're right, why worry about it now, but like a scientist, I have been wondering.
Other than that, surviving winter had been downright easy. I quit riding when the freeze/thaw cycle of the ground got too hard on legs and hooves, so the horses have been very lazy and dirty, since mud-rolling is a full-time occupation. I haven't missed a day of dog walking due to weather, I finally got a two-book contract (for books about dogs!) that I'd been waiting for since September, and my booth is up. Okay, I do worry that I won't be able to pay the booth rent until spring (this is the worst time of the year for retail) but I am totally enjoying the businesswoman experience. Especially the buying, which is so much more fun and easier than selling. (Just like horse-trading.)
Who can pass up adorable bears in baskets?? Plenty of people it seems!
But as winter moseys into spring, I am counting my blessings that my family and animals are healthy, Dozer is at peace in our field, I am still employed (as a writer!) and that I am able to connect with this wonderful group at Equestrian Ink. Please share your 'surviving winter' thoughts!


Susan said...

It turned winter in Montana finally. We finally got some moisture, in the form of snow. I don't think it's been warm enough to confuse plants, but that isn't unheard of here.

Congratulations on the book contract. I hope your business is successful!

lmel said...

It hasn't been much of a winter here in Maine--not like last year. But with the mildness, come the ticks, mosquitoes, and all the lovely diseases they carry. I'd much rather have to dig out the barn every week than worry about drought from lack of snow, or the ensuing bug season. That's global warming for you.

Francesca Prescott said...

I couldn't pass up on those bears in the basket! How cute!

I'm kind of envying your mild winter, as ours is really starting to get on my nerves. I don't remember such a long stint of icy cold weather. I can handle the minus temps, but the insane icy wind we've been having has to stop soon. I can't take Qrac outside at all as it's just too dangerous, too windy, too cold, too icy, and he's fed up with going in the indoor at the moment. He sighs really loudly when I lead him towards it! Poor guy!

I think CNN showed some photos of cars smothered in ice in the town of Versoix, which is just down the road from me. The lake has been wild, and the scenery is stunning, but it's not pleasant being out there.

And then, from one day to the next, it will get really warm, like it alwayws does. But meanwhile, it's supposed to snow next week... ugh!

whitehorsepilgrim said...

In England the worst of it is the mud. At the barn all of the ways between the fields are ankle-deep. (It does not help that the owner refuses to invest in hard-surfaced all-weather tracks. But what equestrian business has spare cash for such a luxury?) Trails are muddy. So are horses. fence posts are falling over in the wet ground (assisted in this by certain horses!) My truck is filthy, dirt tracks around the house, and I long for the relative dryness of spring.

The freezing temperatures of the past few days have been so welcome. That means carrying water out to the pastures however it's a small price to pay.

I miss the good cold winters of central Europe. OK, not the frozen pipes and the labour of carrying firewood. (I lived in a rather undeveloped place!) But hard trails, no mud, clean horses, these were good.

T E Lawrence described the desert as "clean". The environment might have been harsh, the life difficult, and yet there was that sanitary quality, that cleanliness. I feel the same way about a cold winter. Snow and freezing temperatures are "clean".

Laura Crum said...

We've had a dry winter here in coastal California, so I have much less mud than usual. Like White Horse Pilgrim, mud is the big thing I usually struggle with in the winters. Our normal winters are pretty wet. It almost never snows here, and low temps are in the high 20's F. I know we need rain for the overall benefit of our region, but I have to admit to enjoying this dry winter. I've been able to ride a lot more than usual. (Being a weather wimp, I don't ride in the rain.) And my barnyard is so much more pleasant when its not mucky. So this has been as easy winter here, so far.

Alison said...

Wow, guys! I am feeling as if we've had spring all winter compared to the mud and snow stories you are telling me. Susan, I think Montana made out this winter, and Imel, I am with you on the bug worry. We need lots of hard freezings to keep the ticks under control. Francesca, come buy my bears! Poor Qrac--I don't blame him for wanting to be outside, but brrrr, poor Europe has suffered. White Horse, good luck with the mud. Do you not use warmers in the water troughs to keep them from freezing? A wonderous invention. And Laura--after seeing the photos of you guys riding on the beach, I think you've had the best winter of all!

Leslie said...

Here in Southern OH,we experienced the same surprise Spring-like weather you've had in VA.My early crocus sprouted and my daffodils are popping up. Over the weekend winter returned to remind is, he ain't gone.Cold,a little snow, and temps in the teens. On two of the very warm days, I noticed a snake sunning itself in the leaves near our creek.I've never seen a snake out in early February the entire 30 years I've lived here and my husband has lived in this area all his life, he didn't remember seeing one that early. I'm also concerned about the upcoming bug season.

FD said...

I always used to hate winters where we did not have at least a few patches of prolonged sub zero weather. Even if it wasn't muddy and wet. Not, sadly because I was thinking about potential summer droughts - can't claim that level of percipience, although in my defence, most ares of the UK don't, or didn't used to have to worry about that too much.

No, what I was worried about was that fungal and bacterial diseases were much worse in the years where we did not have proper hard frosts; mudfever, ringworm, rainrot, lice, creeping crud, mites, and all manner of respiratory issues. Admitted it was a perception based on personal experience so, y'know, not scientific, but I do think there's something to it.

alison said...

I agree FD that hard winters seem to regulate annoying insects and diseases. Let's hope that global warming doesn't mean the bug/fungus population will take over!