Sandy ain’t so dandy….

I walked the dog tonight in the light of an almost full moon. No breezes were stirring. Stars twinkled in the skies and the temperature hovered in the high 50’s…. sweater weather. It’s hard to imagine that astronomical high tides due to this beautiful full moon will align with Hurricane Sandy, a wintry weather system from the west, plus a frigid jet stream from Canada to send tropical force winds great distances inland, with significant rainfall and tidal storm surges along the east coast. We are thinking about our friends in Virginia and we are bracing ourselves for what may come to New Hampshire.

Local lobstermen are moving their traps to deeper waters where they fare better in rough seas and others are taking traps out of the waters. Communities have moved Trick or Treat night and schools will be soon closed. Today I jostled grocery carts with other shoppers stocking up on batteries, water, and some non-perishable goods. We will batten down the hatches, fill the bathtubs and pots with water and download a few iBooks to read in case we lose power. We’ve been through enough of these to know what to do. This will a serious storm but weather forecasting is not a perfect science. Perhaps Sandy’s ferocity will wane. We can keep our fingers crossed. Stay safe, friends….

Singing in the Rain…

The aftermath of a drenching rain that ends a long period of extreme heat and dry weather is dramatic. One day we can be surrounded by crunchy brown grass and wilted leaves and little movement by animals, then wake the morning following a storm to exuberant changes in nature.  Plants perk up and animals perk up.  It is a healthy reminder how much all life on earth depends on H2O for its very existance.

Our rains came heavy, fast and furious with much thunder and lightning and wind. Umbrellas flew like rockets, inflatable rafts became a part of  the borders, watering cans were blown across the landscape, but we were oblivious to all as we sat at a window and watched in absolute joy.

click to see my freckles...

A stroll through the revived property revealed how quickly living creatures bounce back when water returns. At the pond, fish that have lived at the bottom of the low pond became our little friends again and they introduced us to their babies.  Frogs that we have not seen in weeks made appearances again. Toads lingered in the wet mulch and filled their tummies with insects that are emerging from hiding. And the ground is alive with amphibian youngsters. Watch your step!

Click all photos to enlarge

We sat at the end of the pier in the calm of the early morning today and watched the osprey young who finally learned to fly.  We observed the parents diving for fish, hitting the water, then reappearing with large croaker in talons. Babies who waited in the pines shouted with excitement and hunger. From the end of the pier we enjoyed a pod of porpoise chasing schools of fish up one shoreline, then another, coming within feet from where we watched. Yes, they also brought their babes for us to meet.

Finally, a happy birthday to Les Parks over at Smithfield Nursery. He turned a young 50 yesterday and he wished for this rain for his big day, which he generously shared with us all. What a difference it made.

Ann Hohenberger, The Garden Club of Gloucester

A Walk In The Snow

The blowing and drifting snowstorm arrived today bringing about 8″ of snow so far to the Tidewater area.  Virtually all of Virginia experienced snow with some areas blanketed by a foot or more.  Thankfully, mister gardener and I did not have to venture out by vehicle.  A short afternoon walk was invigorating however, especially for the dogs who love a romp in snow.  Back inside, mister gardener kept the fires burning and we could stretch out and enjoy a good book and/or browse through a stack of seed catalogs.  We have not lost power and all is well.

Tomorrow should bring sunny skies and possibly warm enough weather to begin the big melt. Here’s a snapshot of what it looked like in Gloucester VA today.  Love to know how the rest of the state fared!

And so we started out...

Take a shortcut through the porch? No such luck. The door was frozen shut.

There's nothing like snow to bring out the puppy in an old dog

Yummy, it tastes like SNOW!

Snow was shaken from boughs that hung dangerously low under the weight.

More than 50 birds fed beneath and around several feeders. Some like this Carolina Wren sought shelter among the clay pots and driftwood.

A dark-eyed junco, frosty and cold, marched slowly back to shelter beneath the cotoneaster.

This gave me a start but it's only a faux feathered friend. It's a good reminder to keep birds well supplied with food in harsh weather.

Ann Hohenberger, The Garden Club of Gloucester

SNOW is on the way!

Have you seen the national weather map? A major storm is knifing through the lower Mississippi Valley.  You name it, they have it: snow, ice, flooding rains, thunderstorms. And this major system is sliding eastward to the mid-Atlantic area.  They tell us it’s going to be messy, folks. By tonight snow may begin to fall in Virginia and by Saturday morning we will experience a major winter snowstorm.

Just gazing out the window, it’s hard to believe that a winter storm is on the way.  The sun is shinning. The sky is blue.  Winds are light and out of the Northeast at 5 to 10 MPH.  The eagles are soaring above the river. The labs are napping in the grass just soaking up the rays from the sun.

Little Gem magnolia today

Thank goodness for weather forecasting.  We have primed the generator.  We have stocked up on water and other goods.  A fresh cord of wood is neatly stacked and ready.  The bird feeders are filled. Events that needed to be canceled have been canceled.

Little Gem magnolia may look much like this on Saturday

The foot or more of snow in Tidewater will surely create havoc for travel on the ground and in the air.  But we, mister gardener, the dogs, the cats and I, plan on a day of hibernation.  We are prepared like little squirrels with our food and warmth in our little nest.  We will try not to think about the travel mayhem across the state.  When we venture out, it will be on foot to enjoy the splendor of a winter wonderland.

Here’s hoping that everyone will stay safe and can appreciate the beauty that the snow will bring to the landscape.

Ann Hohenberger, The Garden Club of Gloucester

Ida, Go Home!

Today's rainfall....Tropical Storm Ida, we’ve had enough! The dogs, the cats, mister gardener and I, the plants, the trees, the shoreline, the pier… we’ve all had enough. You caught us by surprise.  Instead of bringing us blustery, inclement weather, you just had to merge with that low front in North Carolina to bring us The Perfect Storm, a Nor’easter.

Did we lose a huge old maple yesterday (Wed.)?  Yes. Did it take power lines with it?  Yes.  Could we then start our generator? No. Did the maple fall across our lane blocking our exit by car? Yes. Thank goodness a kindly neighbor met mister gardener at the end of the lane for a trip to Walmart for a new generator battery.  And as of 11 a.m. today, we’ve had limited power forFarewell old friend lights and refrigerator, tv and… computer.

Right now, at 3:30 p.m., Thursday, we have 41 mph wind gusts with white caps over the river and high tide in one hour. The lower section of pier is completely under water and the waves are breaking over the high pier.  Mister gardener is watching his small boat that is raised as high as it can go on the lift.  So far our property is high and dry but much of Tidewater and coastal North Carolina is badly flooded with a state of emergency declared for Virginia.

Ginkgoes against the windowsRain continues to pound us and trees are tilting precariously. Temperatures outside hover around 50 degrees.  Temperatures inside hover around 59 degrees in every room but the family room where a roaring fire keeps all of us toasty warm. By the weekend, this slow moving offspring from Ida should be moving toward the northeast.

Good riddance!

Ann Hohenberger, The Garden Club of Gloucester