November 29, 2015: Out my front window.
|Black-capped Chickadee on Hawthorn|
Brrrrr. It’s chilly out outside. We’ve had a hard frost the last three nights – nothing compared to the central Wisconsin winters I grew up with. But I’ve lived here for over thirty years and I've gotten cushy. Freezing seems chilly. Hard to believe I used to sleep in an unheated bedroom with my window open until it got really cold. As I remember, I had to keep the window open until 20 below zero, but perhaps time has only made it seem as cold as that. I was the only member of the family sleeping upstairs, and my father wanted to just holler up from outside to wake me up. I don’t think he had any idea how bone chilling that room was. Maybe I only needed to keep the window open until it got below zero. I do remember it was COLD.
I even remember my sleepwear from those days. Wool socks and a viyella nightgown sewn by my grandmother. Much to my surprise I found viyella on Wikipedia. It was a blend and cotton and merino wool – “The first branded fabric in the world.” Now the term relates to a fashion brand, but not when I was a little girl holding onto my toes. Funny how I even remember the name of the fabric and that it had wool in it. It never seemed warm enough for wool.
Those nightgowns make me smile even now. ‘Posey’, as we called my grandmother, always started with a pattern, but she hated to waste fabric, so she’d find areas on the nightgown to add extra fabic: a fuller collar, wider sleeves, more material in the body, and fortunately long enough to tuck around my feet when I curled up. Posey sewed them by hand! That makes her sound like some comfy woman from the hills, but, no. Posey was a proper Bostonian. Never wore a pair of pants in her life.
|The Living Room When I was a Little Girl|
I remember once counting the blankets on my bed – 13. If I’d had any sense I would have slipped in between them, but I didn’t. I’d go to sleep trying to hold my cold toes. By morning my bed was finally warm and I’d enjoy the beautiful patterns of frost crystals on my windows. Then I’d dress as fast as I possibly could and run downstairs to toast myself at the wood stove. The stove was taller than I was and my father would have a good fire going before he called me.
|Sketched from my Living Room Window|
So watching the chilly birds has sent my mind a-wandering. They agree with me that it is chilly outside – they are all fluffed up. Our Anna’s hummingbird was one of the first to arrive this morning. He looked more like a colored egg with a long bill, than a hummingbird. I noticed his feeder had ice crystals so I quickly warmed more nectar and hung another feeder. Robins were early too. They ignored the all the beautiful red fruit on our hawthorn until the fruit froze. I suspect it softens the fruit … or maybe their need for calories just puts hawthorn on the menu when it gets cold. Some of the robins made a point of sitting on their feet while feeding – keeping those toes warm just like me.
Soon more fluff balls arrived: house finches, juncos, a song sparrow, and a pair of towhees. They all looked as if they tripled their weight in the last couple of days. It’s wonderful how they can fluff their feathers to keep warm. Most birds can settle onto their feet and keep them warm too. The poor ol' heron has to settle for warming one foot at a time.