Wednesday, March 2, 2016

farewell to february

It's been a weird winter; pretty cold on one occasion (down to -27C), decent amount of snow that melted away on a few occasions, a handful of thaws, windy and pretty grey and overcast.
Februari went as it should; cold, crisp air at night, sunny during the day with old snow on the ground and still frozen lakes.
I had to see the last true winter full moon last month and we were treated with clear, open skies. I watched the moon rise as I walked the dogs. It rose large and butter yellow. Often at night I watch the Orion's belt constellation move closer to its summer position in the sky. It is one of my favorites, probably because I connect it to this place and to our home. When we look up or out of the living room window it is right there in front of us. We call it "the kite" sometimes. I am enjoying these clear, dark winter nights as long as they last. Soon stargazing will be quite a bit more difficult.
The next morning, as the dogs and I were accompanying the kids to the schoolbus, the rising sun already turned the skies on the southern side of the valley a fiery yellow and on the exact opposite side the moon was sinking below the still dark treeline, a large orangey pinkish (some would call it peach, but that's a fruit) globe. The cold morning air stung in the cheeks again and the only sounds were the crunching snow under our feet and the reverberating mocking calls of the green woodpecker.... as if he was making fun of King Winter's attempts to keep spring at bay.
The days have lengthened very noticeably with at least four hours more of daylight since christmas.

I say farewell to february with mixed feelings. Winter's coming to an end. The sun's intensifying warmth, especially on sunny days, and the calling of the birds already hold the promise of spring. I am already feeling it in my bones too; a heavy tiredness with a constant urge to feed and snack. Soon Sweden's 5th season will be upon us with alternating cycles of thaw and frost, turning everything wet & slushy, only to become hard and slippery again... until all the snow and ice has disappeared.

But before all this comes to pass we are making the most of it still.
One of those occasions included a "fika" ( pronounced fee-kah) or Swedish coffee get together in the middle of the lake. Or technically on it. It started with us asking our friends here for some moose bones, since Lester does not seem to like those dried 'n rolled thingies. They did have some, but only if we paid for them. Paying as in joining them in said fika. That sounded just like our kind of bargain!
So in the afternoon we packed our things and headed out to meet them. We are not really used to being out on the ice, so it felt a bit special. And in good Dutch, no Limburg tradition we offered them a stronger drink too. And there was this commercial many years ago that claimed you had to serve a Jägermeister icecold. So we did....
Earlier that day I crossed the lake with the dogs and out there, in the early midday sun it got quite warm. Knitted hat and gloves came off and my coat was opened up. I was also painfully reminded to wear sunglasses during such circumstances. Blazing sun and wide open, white areas really hurt your eyes and blind you pretty fast and effectively.

But as the sun started setting the temperature dropped equally fast. Time to go home...

The next day, february 29th, I took the dogs and went looking for the beaver den I knew had to be around somewhere. There is extensive beaver damage on one side of the lake and I went there to see if I could find the den. I did find it and it was quite big too!! There should be more than 1 beaver in there.
The dogs in front give a bit of an idea of the size and in the background you can see a bit of the damage. Most of the shoreline to the right looked like that; dozens of mature trees cut down...

One season is slowly coming to an end, but we already need to look ahead. We need to make plans for sowing and planting, beehives have to be built for the hopefully soon to arrive bees and the checken/rabbitcoop needs to be build as well as the orangery on the southside of the house. A large part of the garden needs to be fenced off too, so the dogs can be outside. But for those last projects the frost has to be completely gone out of the ground and the latter can even be constructed during summer, so I still have time.....

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