House Plants and a Beaver Lodge

Tomorrow is the first day of winter and hopefully the holidays will bring a time of relaxation.  Here are a few pictures from the past weeks.

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Every year I show you my cyclamen.  I am always amazed that it comes back so beautiful after looking so dead during the summer.  This is year nine.  I always take it outside over the summer, where it loses all its leaves, and then bring it back inside in the fall.  We also have a few small succulents that seem to be doing well in the greenhouse window.  No snow on the ground today, though some is predicted for Christmas Eve.

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This is the poinsettia plant I picked up cheaply last Christmas.  One of you readers told me it needed 12 hours of complete darkness in order for the leaves to turn red.  I have kept it in the laundry room, but apparently that is not dark enough, though the stems and some of the leaf veins are all red.

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I don’t know the name of this plant, but it is looking great since I re-potted my house plants this summer.  I am letting it get drier before watering this year.  Last year this plant was on its last leg…  It does have some white spot, which may be a disease, but it is not too bad and I can brush some of it off.

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Beaver lodge at Lake Katherine.  In an earlier post I showed you a tree chewed by a beaver.  When walking around the lake someone point out this lodge, made with sticks and mud.  That person had actually seen the beaver.  However the lodge has been looking the same for several weeks, so I have a suspicion that the beaver is no longer there.  I wonder what could have happened.

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Another view of the beaver lodge with sumac trees and a mallard duck.

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A closer look at that mallard duck. The males are called drakes.

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Drops of water on little crabapples, back in our yard.  You can see that the leaves are still on the viburnum bushes in the back of the yard.  The leaves had not fallen when the cold snap hit in mid November and they have clung to  the branches this past month.  It is a favorite shelter for sparrows and other birds.

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Sparrow hiding out in viburnum bush on a cold day.

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We cooked up some of these brussel sprout leaves and threw the rest in the compost pile.  So there is nothing really edible now except for a few kale leaves and some oregano under the leaf litter.

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The  compost pile was about 6 feet tall earlier with chopped leaves and grass.  It got pretty hot and shrunk down to 3 feet.  Then  I got my pitch fork out and turn the top half a bit, so it is almost 4 feet now and still pretty warm inside. There is plenty of room to dig holes and throw in our kitchen scraps.  Once it gets topped with snow and freezes then it will be harder to get the banana peels inside.

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I have a lot of books, mostly from the library, to keep me busy reading.  Right now I am in the middle of Deep Down Dark, about the Chilean miners who were stuck underground for 69 days.  So far very interesting reading.  When I feel tempted to complain about dark days I can be thankful that I am above ground and so incredibly blessed.

12/21/14 UPDATE – Beaver Spotted!

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Beaver at Lake Katherine on winter solstice.  This is not a very clear picture, but we went out walking around the lake this morning and saw the beaver swimming around.  Beavers are social creatures.  I wonder if there are two beavers in this pond, as I have only seen one.  It was such a quiet morning and a bit dark, so that is one reason it was hard to get a good picture.

Thanksgiving Wanderings

For Thanksgiving we took a trip to Minnesota to visit family.  There was some fresh snow on the ground so I walked out to the woods, but the birds were too elusive that morning, so I took some tree pictures.

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Two grand trees.  Red Wing, Minnesota.  In the background you can see the snow on top of Barn Bluff.

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Here you can see Barn Bluff again under another weathered tree, with a nice evergreen tree in the background.

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The structure of this tree is silhouetted in snow.

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Red (pine) squirrel.   These squirrels are about half the size of gray squirrels and this one was chattering quite loudly at me.

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I managed to get one, not so great, nuthatch picture.  This past week I saw a nuthatch in our yard at home, too.

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As we drove home I was trying to take some pictures through the car window.  The Mississippi river was mostly frozen and had a very geometric design on the snow and ice.

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Across the road from the Mississippi river were the bluffs.  Highway 61 is a beautiful drive.

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A few hay bales in the snow.  It was nice to be in the country for a little bit.

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Wisconsin farm and corn field.

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Back in our yard…  I caught the chickadee working on getting a little crabapple this week.

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There seem to be at least two cats in the neighborhood this year.  Since we seem to have an over-abundance of sparrows this year, maybe it is not such a bad thing…  As long as they aren’t getting the native birds!

Winter:  Winter seemed to come early this year.  We have had many days below freezing already.  Today we got up over 50 degrees, though, so the snow is gone.  The compost pile is steaming hot.  We still eat a little kale from the yard.  But now it is time to relax, get cozy, ready some good books, and of course, shovel some snow!