Monday, November 8, 2010



This last Friday, while outdoors doing some yard work, I glanced at the sky and thought that it looked like one that signaled the impending approach of winter. The trees were half bare and a heavy cold feeling was in the air. 

Officially winter does not begin until  December 21 with the winter solstice. Yet, in the UK and Ireland winter begins November 1st. They consider the winter solstice as midwinter. The shortest days and weakest solar radiation  are during November, December and January therefore, it seems reasonable to use the November date.

About a week ago the yearly flocking of blackbirds paid their late autumn visit -- hanging around for about two days.  I stepped outside to take a photo of their hundreds and hundreds --  to capture the density of their population.  My appearance outside created a dynamic "whoosh" of nature -- synchronized instant take off and flight. They were beauty in motion with the sound of hundreds of wings flapping. It was a mixed flock and I believe there were even some flickers in the numbers.

Friday, I gathered the last harvest from my garden -- butternut squash. There were seven large ones that had hidden themselves in the weeds of my garden. They were beautiful and will surely be delicious, hopefully. I realize that they had been sitting on the vine for sometime. 

The only other plants in the garden that were still producing were my golden cosmos. They had outperformed this year with stalks six feet tall and laden with glorious gold blooms.

Saturday brought a light frost. No snow flurries as had been predicted. Really, I thought, why do we wait until the winter solstice to declare the official entrance of winter? I am going on the Irish winter schedule -- it just seems more in tune with nature. Happy winter everyone.


  1. What lovely photos, I love the blackbird one and what a nice surprise to find those butternut pumpkins!
    It's amazing how different countries proclaim the beginning of each season on different dates - here in Oz it was actually the dates that the new uniforms were handed out to the British troops that were decided to be the start dates - 1st Dec for Summer, 1st March Autumn, 1st June Winter and 1st Sept for Spring, nothing to do with weather or crops or old Solstice traditions lol.

  2. Jayne -- Really have a wide spread of seasonal dates across several countries. I think your country is certainly organized with dates. No fluctuation like you get with the solstice dates.
    Interesting that you call butternut squash butternut pumpkin. Thanks for all your nice comments especially the one of the photo of the blackbirds -- rather an impressionistic look to it but awesome to experience. -- barbara

  3. I always love to find a "surprise" in the garden weeds!

  4. Farmchick -- Yes, this was a fun surprise when I was cleaning out part of my garden -- last year I found a big beautiful black widow as I cleaned up the garden -- that really surprised me! Always nice to have you leave a comment -- barbara

  5. Glad to hear about the Irish idea of winter, I think they're right [and so are you] We had snow yesterday, I feel winter in a 'heavy cold" as you described. Zipped the warn lining in my raincoat and got out the gloves. No point in whining, just get in synch, I think.

  6. Beautiful capture of the blackbirds! I was trying to capture a flight of starlings in town the other day -- with only limited success.

  7. June -- I was thinking of your weather when you mentioned zipping the warm lining in your rain coat. I was thinking, "is she walking her ocean path still during the cold weather." I hope you are as it is sounds so refreshing and you would be observing another chapter of the connecting world that surrounds you. Also, your readers (like myself) could be privy to your thoughts and observations of your walk findings. I would love to be so near a body of water like you have. I visited Cape Cod when I was young, married, and innocent. It is a beautiful place. -- barbara

  8. Vicki -- I agree, it is very difficult to photograph a flying horde of birds. This flock was huge. I just stood there and kept clicking my camera as the long band of birds passed before me.
    -- barbara

  9. Great post Barbara. You with your blackbirds; me with my crows. I think it is amazing that you were able to experience the nut-cracking technique of the crows when you lived in the northwest.

  10. Beautiful photos Barbara! I've spent time in SW Ireland in winter and it does not get as cold as the NE of the US does. It is always green there.
    I would love to have such a large supplu of butternut squash --it is my favorite vegetable!

  11. Lizzy -- Yes, bird behavior is fascinating to watch.I always wanted to be an ornithologist when I was very young. But of course, for many of us, you change your dreams into new ones. I am such a novice when it comes to identifying them. Thanks for stopping by -- barbara

  12. Hi Pat, So nice to have you visit. I did visit your blog and was quite impressed with your posts and photos on New York City. I know your city is full of great material to write about. I will be stopping in again to visit your blog. -- barbara

  13. I'm so enjoying your blog! :-)

    I go along with the Irish/UK way of marking the start of winter. We got our first taste of that season yesterday (late for us) after weeks of balmy weather that obviously thinned my blood! Yesterday was blustery with snow showers and felt so raw and bitter, yet it was in the thirties. I'd better toughen up quick, we have much lower temps than that headed our way!

    Butternut squash is one of our very favorite veggies too, we cook a lot of it in the pressure cooker and I envy your bountiful harvest! And I love your photo of the basket of Butternuts!

    That flock of blackbirds is just amazing, I can almost hear the "whoosh" you describe! We had an enormous flock of crows show up here once, just clouds of them filling the sky and fields and lining the fencerails. Have never seen anything remotely like it before or since. Till your photo! I know that in bird augury dreaming of a blackbird in flight brings good fortune. So what does actually seeing a bazillion blackbirds in flight during your waking hours mean?! It's GOT to be good! :-)

  14. Laloofah -- For me, your state of Wyoming creates visions of openness and rugged weather. One where the earth really is felt. I have travelled through Wyoming so many times in my past. How lucky you live there.

    I am not famliar with the term augury dreams. I think it means something like bird dreams?

    Butternut squash will be a staple of my diet for quite some time. Probably will be eating it through the holidays. From five seeds I probably got thirty or 40 butternuts! That is a record for me. It was a good growing year as we had regular rainfalls.

    Thanks for the comments -- barbara

  15. Barbara, I think the meaning of my sentence about bird augury would have benefitted greatly from the insertion of a comma! :-) Thusly...

    ... in bird augury, dreaming of a blackbird in flight brings good fortune.

    The Wyoming landscape is stunning, but we've lived here over 21 years and are ready to go somewhere different.

    Lucky you with that crop of butternuts! YUM!

  16. Laloofah -- Thanks for the clarification on the bird augury. If you were a neighbor I would gladly share some of my squash with you. -- barbara

  17. Those are wonderful photos Barbara. The golden cosmos especially caught my eye. We are just getting the start of the hot weather here in Melbourne, 32 C and waiting on a thunder storm. I would happily extend Spring a few more months.

  18. LiD You are just starting into the warm weather and we into the cold. I don't mind winter especially after the sizzling summer we had here in KY. Spring is a lovely time of year here too. Hope your summer will not be a sizzler. -- barbara

  19. To-day I had snow first time.

    Love your photography and you garden goodies and your seed in a jar. Sitting

    here posting to you blogs I looked at.

    1. sparkle -- snow -- soon it will be here also. Had such a light winter last year I am sure Mother Nature will make up for it this year. I so love snow -- it is so beautifully unspoiled here in the country -- not like city snow that quickly gets soiled. thanks -- barbara