Archive for the ‘Winter’ Category

Frozen Fridays   10 comments

Last Sunday closed out the Winter 2016 skating season at Rockefeller Center. Luckily I’d passed this way several weeks ago and stopped to record it for posterity.

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Whose posterity? Anyone’s and everyone’s. This is because I’m the only one who was involved in the tale I’m about to tell who’s still walking this earth. but I guess it’s a factor of living long enough to tell tales. Now that I think about it now, I’d rather me talking about them, than them talking about me.

As I recall my mother and I used to board the D train for the trip to 50th Street and Rockefeller Center every Friday evening. Although it was the same train I wrote about when I recounted my Macy’s woes, and the ride but two stops shorter, if I was asking “Are we almost there (?), it was because I could hardly wait to get there. There, being the skating rink where my Aunt Ginny would meet us after she got out of work. Aunt Ginny was my mother’s youngest sister. She worked for the New York Times and she loved ice skating. She also loved her little niece. So once I turned four, she’d walk over from the original Times Building which was about 6 blocks away.

The Old New York Times Building

NY Times.

We’d buy our tickets, and go into the dressing room, and although I didn’t change into a cute little skirt, my skates did have pom poms on them. Aunt  Ginny would change out of her work clothes and my mother would lace up my skates and layer me with sweaters, and off we’d go;  Aunt Ginny and I, to the ice, and my mother, to take up her observer post by the rail.

See the little girl in red? That’s where my mother would stand, and the door just behind her, to the right, was the dressing room

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We kept this up week and after week and I took to the ice naturally. By the time I was five, I was able to skate around the rink by myself without holding her hand or the rail.I still remember how I loved being part of the circular whir of skaters, and and how exciting it was to skate in the midst of all the skyscrapers, fancy stores with the lights of Manhattan blazing and sparkling overhead.

Our weekly excursions ended the winter I turned six. I’d ceased being an only child in July when my brother Jimmy was born.  My father, a podiatrist, had evening office hours and my mother couldn’t very well bundle up the baby  and stand there with him in the freezing cold. So Aunt Ginny went straight home to Brooklyn after work, and we stayed home in Manhattan and watched Friday night TV.

After a five year hiatus, we did try  to resume our sessions, on Sunday afternoons instead of Friday night. But it was never the same. I was eleven,  and after  skating with my friends on Saturday afternoons at the huge Wollman Rink in Central Park which was about ten times larger than the Rockefeller Center rink, fifty times more crowded and much rougher, I’d become a flawless skater, not a figure skater, but one who never fell. Rockefeller Center seemed very tame by comparison.

wollman

Jimmy was the pupil now, and he was not only much clumsier than I had been, also much bigger. I guess Aunt Ginny got tired of being pulled down on the ice, and soon my skating was confined to Central Park, which was fine with me. I went skating a few times in college and once or twice in my twenties, but it had become mechanical, and as my friends laughed and wobbled and held on the the rail, I became bored with it.

the real mccoys

Jimmy resumed skating as an adult, but only to take his daughter skating whenever she wanted. His stride was a kind of a sharp-elbowed hobble. If you are old enough to remember the TV show, The Real McCoy’s, you’ll understand why we called him Grandpappy Amos on Ice; his style of skating, reminiscent of Walter Brennan’s skippy type limp with elbows held at an angle.

As for me, I went on to bigger, better, and scarier things –  like sliding down Vermont mountains with skinny strips of fiber glass and wood attached to my feet. I never became bored with skiing, probably because I never stopped fearing for my life! As my more skilled friends paralleled and schussed their way down the mountain, I’d follow at my own pace and style, probably equivalent to Jimmy’s Grandpappy Amos style of skating.”Please, please. I’d pray”, as I picked up speed, navigating through the turns, retreating to the prayerful deal-making of  promises of my childhood years. “I’ll be good , I  promise I will if you just let me get to the bottom alive.”

Then I’d arrive at the bottom and ski-step back to the  lift line, thinking Wow! that was fun. Let’s do it again. No I never got bored with skiing, but I got my own apartment which meant I couldn’t afford going to Vermont every weekend. (or any weekend, for that matter.)

Now I never miss a chance to walk by the Rockefeller skating rink when I can. I make my way through the crowd to gaze down at the skaters. Am I feeling nostalgic  because I’m sole survivor of those long gone days? No, I’m just waiting to see someone fall down!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I Know I Should Be Worried, But…….   4 comments

I, for one, am enjoying what so far has been a glorious non-winter. November is already on the books as the warmest in record-keeping history, and while we still have ten more days of December, it looks like a sure shot. It was nearly seventy degrees two Sundays ago when I saw Christmas shoppers strolling around in t-shirts, and a friend of mine told me she dug out her flip-flops. It was as if I were still in San Jose! Yes, yes, I know I, when I lived there I complained that I missed having four seasons…..but I lied! Or rather I didn’t realize what I was missing were three of the four seasons.

So why should I worry? (Hey shades of Mad Magazine  – if you’re old enough to remember Alfred E. Newman, wasn’t that his name? The guy with the space between his teeth. For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about – sorry for the interruption – back to  the warm weather.

I know the immediate explanation is a very strong El Nino, but I fear the looming  backdrop is climate change. Still I am thankful and, were I to wake up to a blizzard in the morning, I’d still view each of the days we’ve had as a wonderful gift and one less day of cold for the 2015-16 winter. I was talking to a woman on the train over the weekend and she issued a warning. “It’s going to come sooner or later, and when it does, it’s going to arrive with a wallop.  Part of me knows she’s right but the other part says no, this is normal from here on in!

This past weekend we did have a break of winter. It wasn’t bad as New York winters go – low thirties overnight and low forties all day. If this were a normal winter, it might be considered a warm day. But it’s not, so everyone was freezing.

Some of the diehards in my garden, since it takes the first snow fall to put them to sleep for the winter, are still awake and enjoying this Christmas gift from Mother Nature too

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Even the azalea bush!!!!!

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As of this morning, the forecast for Christmas Eve is seventy-one degrees! Merry Christmas my green friends!

And for everyone reading this, in the words of Tiny Tim  – A Merry Christmas to us all. And God Bless us everyone.

 

Tell It Like It Is   4 comments

Warning: I feel a rant coming on.

Does anyone else have a problem with today’s weather forecasters’ obsession with the Wind Chill Factor, or am I the only one?  It’s getting so bad that I can watch an entire weather forecast, and if my attention wanders for one second, I miss the the actual temperature.

Note To Al Roker and his biddies. (Freudian slip. I meant buddies, but they do go on like a bunch of old biddies, don’t they) Sorry, but I warned you this might be a rant, Now where was I. Oh yes, Note to Al Roker and his buddies:

I do not want to know what it feels like outside. Call me old fashioned, but I just need you to tell me the real temperature. I’ll find out how it feels when I actually go out.

(For  my West coast readers, who may not know about such things, according to the National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office, “Wind chill temperature is a measure of the combined cooling effect of wind and temperature. As wind increases, heat is carried away from the body at a faster rate, driving down both the skin temperature (which can cause frostbite) and eventually the internal body temperature (which can kill). The Wind Chill Temperature index is the measure of this relationship.”)

 

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Do you see that top set of numbers, the ones in the black border under the word temperature? In the old days, that’s all we needed to know.

But you know, all this histrionic hype may actually work to my advantage. Yesterday I was actually worried. Listening to the news, I began to picture the Arctic Express as a frost-breathing dragon bearing down on the House of Mars. But I had to go out and slay it. Rafael Miranda, my Sunday meteorologist said if I didn’t shovel the snow that fell overnight, it would freeze to ice. I got up my courage, quadruple-layered up,  and waddled to the door.

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Hey! I wondered, Is the Arctic Express Monster masquerading as a beautiful day?

Rafael had done me a favor. The real temperature could never measure up to his hype. I was pleasantly surprise. So much so, that when I was finished, I decided to go to the gym. When I arrived there I had another pleasant surprise, the always (pardon the word) wind-chilled parking lot,  felt no colder than it did on any other winter day.

Only the sight of poor Mighty Mouse reminded me of how cold it was.DSCN1861

He was even wearing icicles on his old boo-boo

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Back home again, Mighty had a message for Al Roker.

DSCN1855“Never mind how the cold feels. I’m out here all the time and I’m dressed for it, but I’m lonely and cramped down here.”

DSCN1858“When will this path become  my driveway again? I want to go home?”

I didn’t have the heart to venture a guess. What do you think? April? May?

You Heard it Here   4 comments

I think the winter of 2013-2014 is going to be one b..tch of  a winter here in New York. Why?

I’ve been looking out my office window on this dogwood tree for nearly eight years. And never, never have I see berries on it …….

DSCN0997Until this year

Until this year

And if you recall my post Doggone, I showed you a surfeit of berries on my dear dear holly bushettes.

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What has this got to do with a harsh winter? Well in  my humble opinion it’s Mother Nature,  offering the birds and squirrels extra sustenance to  tide them over through the incredibly harsh weather ahead.

And look, the birds have heard the call.

Again, I’ve never seen so many fine feathered friends porking out on this tree.

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And this goes on all day.

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On what do I base  my  prediction?  Past experience. I’m not sure of the year, perhaps it was 2009 or 2010,  a fall when venturing outside The House of Mars was akin to stepping onto a field just as a jet fighter began shelling everything in sight. Acorns were hitting the ground en masse. All day and all night all you heard was whack, boom, bang  as they hit neighboring roofs of houses and sheds.

A friend of mine had to take her car to the body shop to hammer out the dents, So many littered the ground that walking was hazardous. Another friend went down on his bum after stepping on a batch. I myself was beaned and practically saw stars one morning while walking dearly departed Marcos. I was glad that I took the hit instead of him.

My personal belief, which I proclaimed at the time.  was that Mother Nature was providing all these acorns  to tide the squirrels over as the mother of all winters approached. Not only the squirrels, but, with the way the acorns hit the ground with enough force to penetrate the ground, I believed new  oaks would be needed to replace those  soon to fall over the winter.

And what of it?

Trees came down like crazy!

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And you know what they say about a picture being worth a thousand words?

I ran out of places to pile snow that year:

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Enough said? Be prepared, and let’s  compare notes next spring.

Leaves, Who NeedsThem?   6 comments

Anyone who knows me knows I am always cold. Always.

New York winters are self-explanatory but summers are as bad. Air conditioning! It’s why you’ll never see me without a shawl in my bag. I’ve been known to duck out of a restaurant to grab my spare shawl from the car. The only redeeming factor of air conditioning is I can go outdoors to warm up!

So, with such an aversion to the cold, why am I devoting a blog to winter and how much I love it? Because of the trees. For me, winter is when the trees come into their glory. I love seeing them stand graceful and tall, shorn of their leaves.

Bone structure; people attribute the beauty of women like Katherine Hepburn, Ingrid Bergman, and the model, Imam to their exquisite bone structure. It’s the same for trees, reaching up to the grey winter sky with their skeletons unadorned, their branches raised in a hallelujah proclamation.

DSCN0271A Glorious Study in Monochrome.

I first fell in love with winter forests when I used to drive to Michigan to visit a friend. Summer woods are soft and huggy but you don’t get to see into them. Driving west along Route 80 in January, I’d steal a second from the road to peek into the woods where I could see deep and wide, viewing it as I imagine deer, rabbits, fox and the like see it; even conjuring up the trek of a few Native Americans making their way home. (All this speculation when my eyes were back on the road)

Then, when I moved to the House of Mars, and it came with its own canopy of woods I was always surprised to see that there are houses just above me – in winter.

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See the house?   It’s just left of center.

 In summer, they don’t exist – out of sight, out of mind.

But it wasn’t until Marcos came in to my life that I really began to like winter.  Well, almost. Bundled against the cold we venture out in the early morning with trees our stationary companions. Walking slowly along the same route every day gives me the opportunity to notice things I never notice when driving or running. And in winter I notice even more. Trees and bushes, heavy with leaves, blend into each other, but in winter they glory in their uniqueness.

But let me say no more. It’s their show.

Marcos is  ready

Marcos is ready

 

 

 

What great bone structure!

What great bone structure!

 

 

Hearty Winter Survivors of a Lush English Garden

Hearty Winter Survivors of a Lush English Garden

 

 

Winter Cheerleader's PomPoms

A Winter Cheerleader with Pom-Poms

 

 

My appreciation of winter isn’t limited to my eyes. My ears notice too.  The brook that flows through my little community is louder, clearer, with no leaves to muffle the sound.

Gurgle,  Gurgle

. Gurgle, Gurgle

 

 

Rhododendrons have the amazing power to shrink when the temps dip below 32, only to  bounce back as soon as the mercury starts to rise. But while they’re momentarily paper-thin, the wind turns them into  wind chimes.

Tinkle Tinkle

Tinkle Tinkle

 

Before I go inside, let me introduce you to my new winter best friend.

The Snow Boss

Hi, they call me The Snow Boss

 

And let’s check in on my summer best friend.

 

Wake Me when Summer's Here

Wake Me when Summer’s Here