Warm and cozy in my Wintertime rut

We came home from our family trip to find we had no clean clothes. Looking at the weather report I saw one sunny day all week.  So, I spent all day yesterday doing laundry, sorting, loading, unloading, hanging, folding and re-hanging. This morning there are jeans hung over the stair railing, t-shirts hanging off every door frame in the house, and a rack full of socks and underwear sits next to me at the computer desk.

It smells like sunshine in here.

I’m waiting for morning to get going because I want to go over to Safeway and take advantage of whole chickens for 79 cents a pound. They also advertise “fresh” salmon for $7.99/pound – my husband and I both spoke at once – “We better get out the smoker!”

When I get home I’ll wash up one of those birds and rub it with salt inside and out (about a tablespoon), then stick it in a zip lock bag on the bottom shelf of my fridge. It can keep up to three days like this, and then I can either cook it whole over indirect heat or cut it in half and put it right over the coals. This method dries the bird out in a good way – gets rid of a lot of the grease, makes the meat savory and tender. 

I try to enjoy Winter like the other seasons. It’s easy to complain about the cold, but I realize, apples and some other fruit trees need so many cold days every winter, motivates them to put out more fruit. We’re getting ready to prune our fruit trees soon, and the grapes. You can see the orchard workers out now, all along Hwy 70 out of O-ville, mowing off the tops of the prunes and peaches. It’s funny to think, with this weather – Spring is coming fast!

It’s good to get outside, don’t let the dark skies keep you cooped up in the house, it’s absolutely gorgeous out there. I bought a giant pair of Levi’s from Salvation Army for $10, and I saved one of my son’s old hoodies.  These clothes hang on a hook by the door, and my rubber boots sit outside on the patio,  so I can put them over my house clothes anytime I want and go outside, even just to take the trash to the bin out front. The air is so crisp right now, tastes like OXYGEN!

Sheesh I need a new pair of boots though, my old ones have holes in all the strategic places. My socks are so wet when I come back in it’s hardly worth wearing boots at all. I will have to get over to the Tractor Store, they have these “barn boots” for $30. They actually have an insulated sole, which is really wonderful when we get up to the snow.  I wear them all Winter around the yard, and I usually get a couple of years out of them. 

Our yard is busy.  Now is birdwatching time. Lately I’ve seen real Blue Birds chittering around my house, they’re beautiful with their rosy pink breasts and true blue coats. The juncos are here – I call the males “roosters” because they keep a harem of dull-colored females around them most of the time. These gals treat their male like Frank Sinatra, they just bump and chuckle around him all day. There is also a pair of rufous-sided towhees who have been scouting the shrubbery for a good nesting site. They hang around with the juncos, kicking over rocks and leaf-piles around my driveway in search of bugs.

The other day I spotted a lone kite flying over our house. One January, kites came to our back acre in a large group, at least 20 or 30 of them at a time. They came every day as the sun was setting, staying for about an hour until dark.  They seemed to be socializing – mating? Some birds seemed to be performing acrobatic stunts – males trying to impress females? That’s what it looked like, because they slowly began to pair up and disappear. A few pairs remained into February, and we watched them nail a couple of smaller birds in our yard before they left. I assume they were also after the gophers and other rodents around the property. Our property is riddled with gophers. 

A few years since they have come in smaller groups, but never again like that first time. I was happy for my kids to see something like that. 

You can set your calendar by Sapsucker, he arrives every year at this time, right after the beginning of Winter. He climbs around the multiple trunks of our old almond tree, work work work, drilling tiny holes. The sap will start to run like crazy as soon as it gets warm. The big mounds of sap from last year have washed onto the ground under the tree now, you have to watch your step or you get a big gelatinous gob on your shoe. It must taste good, all the littler birds come running, poor Sapsucker beside himself to fend them off. 

Sitting here now, I see windows alight, but no sun on the horizon yet. Sheesh it’s DARK outside, time to read the news and put away all these clothes. When the sun comes up, I’ll take a cup of coffee out on the porch and watch the birds come out. First the tiny tits and vireo, nuthatch, woodpecker, then the jays and the mocker, then Hummer appears as if to take charge of the day. He’s full of himself since the rosemary has come into bloom. 

And life goes on.





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