Friday, December 30, 2016

Au Revoir Snow

 Looking out at our front garden it seems a good time to leave for Florida.

Appropriately we're having one of the biggest Christmas/New Year snowfalls in my memory anyway. I am the foreigner with the GB sticker crawling along the road through the blizzard desperately praying not to skid and even more desperately praying for some impatient driver to overtake me so I can follow his tracks. Eventually someone does.
  My first ski of the season was on tuesday with visiting family. It was pretty icy but I did feel a little pang of sorrow at leaving it all behind.
  Also left behind will be my friends at the feeder.

 There were hordes of them there today, including a nuthatch and  a bright red cardinal who of course flew away as soon as I found the camera. It's as if they know it'll be slim pickings for a while. I feel another pang at the thought of exchanging them for mocking birds splashing in the Florida bird bath and disconcertingly imitating the telephone.
  So now, speaking of birds,  it's headless chicken packing time. The friendly neighbour who used to come out and plough our drive has stopped answering his phone, so I hope we can get out tomorrow.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

A Merry (Happy) Western New York Christmas

From the Nutcracker and Mrs Claus

The life-size crib scene outside the local Franciscan convent

Complete with snowy camel*

And St Francis and the wolf

And a very Happy New Year. I suspect it's going to be an interesting one.

*Taken a couple of years ago but it looks much the same today.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Well Hello Again!

Dateline: Cattaraugus County, Western New York

The blog has been on a quick visit back to Blighty, where the weather was unaccountably springlike. After I landed in Newark, my friends at United Airlines kept me in suspense by announcing that my flight to Buffalo would depart two hours and fifteen minutes late, due to late arrival of incoming aircraft (sic). I studied the normally trusty "Where is this flight coming from?" link on my United app, which informed me that it was coming from Buffalo, another two hours later.  Something not quite right there.
Since I already had to wait four hours, I sighed and repaired to a workstation with my laptop. A gal came and perched next to me wielding her phone with loud noise blaring out. I asked her if she might affix her headphones, as I was trying to work. "Oh", she said in puzzlement, "I didn't realise you were working."
"No actually, I'm sunbathing", I said. Incidentally, I could have tried to get on an earlier flight that was just boarding as I arrived but they assured me that there was no way, absolutely no way, that my bags would get on it too.
Then came a nice pre-Christmas surprise as an incomprehensible announcement came over the tannoy and I observed the less hard-of-hearing of my fellow passengers jumping up and walking very fast to a different gate. There was the Buffalo flight, suddenly on time again. And off we went westward, with a nice sunset as a bonus.

 When we landed at Buffalo, I asked the stewardess/flight attendant what had brought about this pleasant turn of events. It being a small plane, the pilot stuck his head out of the cockpit and said, "Oh we just got another plane." Would that it were always so simple. Buffalo flights usually get the rough end of the stick. "Thank you!" I exclaimed in pathetic astonishment.
There followed two more surprises, one being my bags, waiting patiently outside the United office. They had been fast tracked onto the earlier flight, only I hadn't. The second surprise was our front garden.

Yes, we will have a white Christmas.

I recollected my snow-shovelling skills only to find the trusty shovel had a loose handle. I'll just get another one.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Oh Christmas Tree

 The blog is on a short trip, which explains why it has been silent for a while. But here's a flashback to a few days ago when we went to get our Christmas tree. No we didn't actually dig it up from the forest. The Farm Market turned Christmas Tree emporium was busy. In fact it was a veritable Piccadilly Circus. There's a knack to strapping those trees on, especially when you have to drive up and down a steep hill on the way home.

Have to get it right.

Meanwhile we were looking for "the one", as you do.  This gap was where it used to be.

Now it's on top of the car.

Or rather it was. It's currently sitting in a bucket outside the front door awaiting its few days of splendour.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

A New Customer for the Bird Feeder

This handsome grouse surprised us. I thought it was a chicken at first, pecking around on the ground, then flapping up onto the crabapple tree and sitting there for several minutes. Plenty of time to get the camera and change the batteries, which always fail at crucial moments. Normally they hang out in the hills, not in people's gardens. I have had some recipe suggestions but he/she is far too distinguished to be eaten. Lucky there weren't any hunters around because they would have had an extremely easy shot.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Now You Snow It Now You Don't

The tallest hill near us is called Chapel Hill. There is a little white wooden church on the way up that's the oldest Catholic place of worship in the area,  sadly now closed for all but occasional Masses. Alternatively, some people say it's pronounced Chay-pel Hill, presumably after someone who lived there. Whatever, it has its own climate at the top. Here, we're going up from the valley.

 And here we're at the top.

 And here we're going down the other side - our side. No more snow and just a plain old muddy western New York December.

You can see the strip of snow up in the hills.

We thought we were in for an early winter - the ski resort opened - and closed again. We're back to waiting to see what will happen.