* “Joy Sightings” is a term coined by Laura West
We must immerse ourselves in the outside world, even when the weather’s cold or rainy. Bundled up, I enjoyed being out when the snow was falling so hard — it’s like being in a different world. So quiet…so peaceful! These notes were dictated from a walk I took on Sunday, January 24, 2016, the day after the storm system passed through and the sun was shining again. Some of the pictures were taken during the snow and some the day of my walk.
It’s the morning after the “epic” blizzard of 2016
Forecasters have been warning us all week that a big one was headed our way. They called it a “monster storm,” both for its snowfall potential as well as for the huge geographic area it would cover. We prepared for being snowed in with no electricity, but thankfully we never lost power.
We had 24 inches of snow between Friday mid-day and Saturday (last night) at 7 pm, which is nothing to sneeze at, but certainly not the record-setting amount they had predicted. There were areas of Shenandoah County and Virginia, however, that got well over 30 inches. When I woke up this morning, it was 13°, but within two hours the temperature had increased by to 33°. Now, in the noon hour, it feels downright balmy outside, especially with the bright sunshine. The steady dripping from the icicles hanging from our gutters is a testament to the melting that has already started.
The day is absolutely exquisite!
The sky is azure blue, as you can see from the photo of our farmhouse above. All the trees and branches look as though an artist had taken a paintbrush and lovingly outlined them with white paint.
When I look closely at the mounds of snow, they shine and sparkle in the sunlight. In fact, the glare is enough to make me consider putting on dark glasses.
It is wonderful and invigorating to walk in the path that my dear husband kept open with his hours in the storm using the snowblower, and even now I hear the drone of its engine as he widens the path to the house. He is hoping the warmer weather will make it melt faster where he has blown the snow out.
In spite of everything being predominately white, the visible colors are brilliant in contrast. The pine trees are a rich forest green along the driveway and the ridges of the mountain rising up behind us. The deep red of our old brick barn pops out against the snow, and the red of the male cardinal is striking as he flits back and forth between the apple tree in the feeders.
The pinewoods are a never-ending source of drama. Every little while there is an avalanche of snow as the weight of the melting snow on a branch finally gives way and the snow falls to the ground in a burst of white powder and a loud whooshing crash.
The reflectors we put every few yards along each side of the driveway stick up like blue and red lollipops. They were essential in knowing where to guide the snowblower during the storm. The snow was so deep that some of the shorter ones are almost covered, so we need to get a few more of the longer ones for next year.
Signs of life
I can see tracks in the snow where birds, squirrels, and deer have been traversing from one safe haven to another. Looking out the window when it was snowing hard yesterday, we could see only the head of a little squirrel that had hopped over to a tree. I would’ve thought the snow was too deep for him, but clearly, he found his way. I always wonder where these wild creatures go when the weather turns bad. I could see holes under the bushes where some creatures had burrowed their way to warmth and protection.
The birds are my never-failing source of joy! They seem so happy with the generous amount of food we give them at our two feeding stations. One pole has four hooks, each holding a different kind of feeder: sunflower seed, shelled sunflower seeds, suet, and Nyjer seed (thistle) so popular with the finches. Another feeder closer to the house is a tube feeder filled with shelled sunflower seeds. The bird experts say the birds will find their food without us, but it does make me happy to help them out when I can.
The air today is so refreshingly crisp and clean. It’s making me feel alive and full of energy! If the power had gone out, I’m sure I would’ve been whining along with everyone else, but right now I just feel enormously blessed to live in this beautiful place… this rural spot in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.
Happy memories of childhood winters
Of course, I’m a country girl, and I grew up in on a beautiful farm in Fauquier county Virginia. So weather like this does bring back many happy memories of playing in the snow on our farm. Dad used to turn the snow blade backward and pack down the snow to make a chute for our sleds on a hill in the front field. Our favorite sleds were the aluminum saucers. I never could get the hang of the old-fashioned bladed sleds.
I can hear the sounds of other neighbors out and about, the happy squeals of children playing in the snow, and others doing the hard work of digging out. Our wonderful neighbor Wayne Sihler, came over with his tractor and blade to dig out the top of the driveway, which had been completely plowed in by the state VDOT plows.
As I walk back towards the house, the chickadees and titmice scold me as I go by. Clearly, they’re anxious for me to get out of the way so they can resume their feeding frenzy.
Here’s a two-minute video I took outside in our Shenandoah Valley yard.
After the storm…
The evening after the winter storm had passed, this glorious sunset seemed like a divine gift of celebration for all of Creation. The breathtaking beauty of nature after a storm is a powerful metaphor for our lives. It gives us faith there is something to look forward to after even the most tumultuous storms. I took these two photos from our car window with my iPhone about two and a half miles west of our home on Zion Church Road, near the Shenandoah County Farm.
Don’t miss these winter gifts! Bundle up and get outside!