Tag Archives: North Idaho

Gravy Days in the Country

September and October are my favorite months. Yes, there’s November looming with its scramble to batten down the hatches, but September and October are those months where summer work is mostly done, and I can sit down and simply enjoy Earth.  Sure, there’s a bit of cleanup and tidying yet to do, but, all in all, it’s time to wallow in the relative quiet of kids gone back to school, tourists gone home — a time to embrace the Gravy Days, as my mother used to call them.

Our October this year didn’t start in gravy. There was a cold foreboding to the weather that promised a very cold, hard winter.  Everybody felt it.  Then, midway through, things changed.  And we got, not Indian Summer, but Gravy Days, all the same. Last fall clean-ups in pleasant progress and, yes, finally, the roofing crew, promised in Spring, here two days before the rains come.

My biggest project prior to November is … raking the drive and the pathways in preparation for snow removal this winter, manual clean-up necessary to get the bits of branches and fallen leaves cleared so they don’t get sucked into the snow blower with our inevitable wet snow and bind up the big machine, which, if and when that happens, makes me turn the air, not just blue, but purple with my cussing.

The Roofing Job, Done Late (Very), But Done

Hand-Raking the Drive

Halfway done (the rest, already completed, is behind me)

Three-quarters done

Done!

 

Gravy Days Pictures

The February Lacewing Reprise

Last year about this time — late February — I was sitting outside on the steps. It was morning, a few hours past sunrise. In my peripheral vision came tiny movement. I glanced that way and was startled to see a lacewing struggling across the snowy slope of the snowbank to my right, a mountain of snow that is the result of snow coming off the second story roof immediately above.

“What are you doing, emerging right now?” I wondered aloud.

I reached over and nabbed the struggling creature who was somehow functional despite it being below freezing. I stuffed “her” under the cantilevered kitchen overhang where, not trusting the heat tapes alone to protect the plumbing from our vicious winter north winds, I had wrapped and insulated it for winter, stuffing a heat lamp under there just for good measure. It’s warm under there all winter — well above freezing. If she was to have any chance at all, it would be there.

Never thought another thing about it. It was a fluke, I figured.

Sunday morning, Feb 25th, 2018, a full year later, a couple hours past sunrise, I was again sitting on the porch steps, sipping a cuppa to take a break from chores and demands for attention by animals and humans. And what do I spy in my peripheral vision? Yep. A lacewing struggling across the snowy slope of the snowbank …again.

Obviously, it was not the same lacewing. But, considering the timing, I’ll bet she’s a close relative. Nabbed her and stuck her under the cantilevered overhang, down where things stay warm and cozy till the weather moderates. Hope she makes it. More, I wish they’d fix their emergence clock. Obviously, it’s not timed properly for North Idaho.

 

Hammer Down

“Wait five minutes, and the weather will change.” That’s the North Idaho old saw. Unfortunately, it’s neither superstition, nor ignorance. It’s quite canny.

All of January, just about was balmy. Like spring. Dangerous for us.

I kept saying: It’s going to drop the hammer down on us in February. Well, February came and no hammer.

Two days ago, it was sunny and 56 degrees — unheard of for February in North Idaho, except in winters immediately after (I was told by nodding, knowing old timers, all long dead, now) Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and, witnessed first hand, after Chernobyl and Fukushima. But, hey! No worries. Those last two were just the after effects of nuclear meltdowns.

Now comes the hammer: Yesterday, it was 18°F, as it is today, too, with a wind from the north, the wind chill putting us down to 3°F they tell me, though my little, local weather station gives me a different take — -3°F. Despite that small six degree discrepancy, it’s C-O-L-D.

Strong north winds suck the heat right out of this house, despite its heavy insulation, and my winter wrap on the foundation. Couldn’t get it above 65°F in here, and the cats got grumpy. So, I had to go out to the wood shed, grab the big wheel barrow, load it, haul it, stack it in the porch rack, then start the wood stove. Now, the cats are all toasting and roasting around the barrel stove, blissfully baking their tummies.