The way things are going, the scurs are contemplating just reusing last week’s forecast. They are, after all, noted re-gifters. What kind of present will they have wrapped up for this week? Starting Wednesday, mostly sunny with a high near freezing and lows in the upper teens. Thursday, cloudy with a moderate chance of accumulating snow. Highs in the upper 20’s and lows in the mid-single digits. Friday, colder under partly sunny skies. Highs near 10 above and lows slightly below zero. Partly sunny for Sunday with highs near 15 and lows around 5 above. Monday, mostly sunny with highs in the lower 20’s and lows in the mid-single digits. Tuesday, Christmas Eve Day, partly sunny with highs in the mid-20’s and lows in the upper single digits. A sneak peek at Christmas Day calls for partly sunny with highs in the mid-20’s and lows near 10. The normal high for Christmas Eve Day is 24 and the normal for the night when Santa arrives is 7. After retrieving the Festivus pole from the crawlspace the day before, the scurs will be thinking it may be time to start thinking about shopping.
The winter solstice will be upon us on December 21st at 11:11 a.m. According to Deanne Morrison from the U of M Institute for Astrophysics, the sun reaches its southernmost point over the Tropic of Capricorn. Due to irregularities in the earth’s orbit, the sun will already be setting later by then and has been since the 14th. Other astronomical happenings include Venus being at its brightest and Jupiter rising earlier as the month wears on, appearing a mere 20 minutes after sunset by months end. We may or may not be treated to an appearance of the comet ISON as it passes closest to the earth on December 26th. As she quoted famed comet hunter David H. Levy, "Comets are like cats; they have tails, and they do precisely what they want."
Dogs also have tails and Ruby and Fudgie seem to be wagging theirs extra hard with the holidays approaching. The snow adds to their playtime fun. Along with that, it’s easier to figure out what they’ve been up to. Like a couple kids, it’s time to worry when they’re out of sight and the noise stops. The old-style Weber used to grill the Thanksgiving turkey is still on the brick patio. Not too long ago both dogs began showing up with sticky stuff stuck in their fur, smelling like they’d attended a barbecue. Following the tracks in the snow it was obvious they’d been cleaning out the ash pan on the Weber, getting basted by the barbecue sauce that had dribbled through the vents. Busted!
Old friends returned to the bird feeders at the ranch and others reported the same. We had sightings of white-breasted nuthatches, an odd Harris sparrow mixed in with a bunch of juncos, a red-bellied woodpecker, lots of chickadees and last but not least a male cardinal. This prompted me to put out some corn screenings in hopes that he would continue to grace our viewing pleasure. More rooster pheasants also appeared with their numbers growing to five at last count. The ear corn feeder was filled in response to a possibility of a weather system moving through later in the week. Snowfall hasn’t buried their food deeply yet, although there was much less ear-droppage last fall, not to mention fewer acres of corn actually planted in the area this spring.
Snowfall this last week was frequent while significant accumulations were not. It snowed some almost every day at some point and managed to accumulate less than an inch. That’s O.K. by me. Shoveling snow and moving snow in general are both overrated. For now it’s just nice to look out the window and see the flakes lazily falling, making the landscape look a little more like a Currier and Ives winter scene every day.
Some have been curious how the sheep adjusted to the recent cold weather. Just fine, thanks. Realizing that they have about 10 months’ growth of wool right now, they really don’t seem to care much about the temperature unless it’s windy. The wind cools their ears down and while not the brightest bulbs on the tree, they go back inside after eating to snooze and chew their cud, not unlike my little fat buddies. Their ears get cold too.
December 23rd will mark the celebration Festivus. This holiday of course is highlighted by “Feats of Strength” and the “Airing of Grievances”. Most think this is a made up holiday. Turns out it actually was conceived by writer Daniel O’Keefe, whose son Dan went on to write the concept into an episode of Seinfeld. It’s no different in that respect than Kwanza or some of the other excuses people come up with to get off work. At this point I’ll take almost any excuse I can to get out of work, maybe even take a long winter’s nap. It’s another Festivus miracle!
See you next week…real good then.