Winter Construction

In past decades, construction in the American Midwest tapered to next to zero in the winter. For two, three, or four months the construction workers were idle. A few carpenters worked inside jobs and electricians and plumbers continued to make repairs. (Plumbers more than usual if temperatures dropped after the electric went off.)

A different sort of construction became obvious. After each fresh snowfall the kids came out. Forts were popular to give interest to the snowball fights. Snow angels appeared in the yards. (The trick was not to disturb your fine work when you stood up and stepped away.)

And then there was the old stand-by.

                       My father helped in the construction of this fine specimen.                      I was about five years old.


Bouncing Experts

Hop right to it! Quick, like a bunny!

Have you given (or received) orders like this?

Depending on context — and energy level — this command generated a literal hop, jump, clowning around as I went off to fetch the item or do the task.

Bunnies, rabbits, hares — I admit they are expert. I’ve seen them bounce across a yard ahead of either a real or imagined threat.

But the real experts — the animal which defines “bounce” — is the kangaroo.

My introduction was in cartoons. More serious nature shows and films followed. The first time I recall seeing real ones — in a zoo — they were a little of a disappointment. They were scattered around in their habitat with all the energy of college students the morning after a party.

During subsequent zoo visits, the kangaroos have been more active. Once I could have easily believed that one of them had gotten into a stash of energy drinks as he bounced laps around his more sedate companions.

Snack time.


Under the Elms

Sometimes a winter day is a perfect time to reflect on the past.

On the farm where I grew up, eleven large elm trees grew in the area between the house and the barn. They were just “trees”. Some of them served as informal markers of where something happened. One year they provided shade when I staked out a calf to “mow” some of the grass.

One night their roots and the water lines combined to wake my father out of a sound sleep. Actually the chain of events went more like: lightning hits top of tree; thunder; electricity goes down tree, passes from roots to water pipe, enters both house and milkhouse (had to go two directions to do this), jumps gap from kitchen sink to stove. No fire or injuries — but repairs required to water heaters and stove.

These trees did not go completely unnoticed. On at least one winter day, when the frost still sparkled, I captured a bit of winter beauty.

The trees are gone now — victims of Dutch Elm Disease in the 1960’s and 70’s.


Recharging the Battery

Years ago, we recharged nickel-cadmium batteries for use in various toys. Today I have many devices with re-chargeable lithium ion batteries.

These are fine things for inanimate objects. It’s good to have an energy source to keep them functioning without having them plugged into electrical current.

But what about you? Or other living things. How do they recharge?

On a recent sunny afternoon the snow leopard and a zebra enjoyed a solar re-charge.


Tree Skirt

In January of 2019, St. Louis received snowfall. This was not the half an inch that is deposited several times a winter. This was SNOWFALL!

Children were happy for a snow day — or two, or three.

Parents scrambled to make childcare arrangements because school cancels much quicker than work.

Teachers took a deep breath and checked the schedule for the revised school end date.

Meanwhile: Snowplow operators worked almost around-the-clock. Phone calls between friends and neighbors were frequent. Grocery stores kept tabs on deliveries — would the dairy truck make it? When could they get re-stocked on all the bread, milk, and eggs?

This is the time I give thanks for being retired. I’m allowed to stay quiet, snug, and cozy in my home. Will I venture out? Yes, but at the time I choose — think daylight and away from rush hour — lunch?

It’s a good time to collect some photos.

Look at that! The oak tree is wearing a white skirt!



I Love a Parade

When I moved up from Junior to Senior band in eighth grade — this was one of the first marches we practiced. The first time, as with most pieces the rest of the band was familiar with, I sort of watched the notes for third coronet zip past.

The situation improved. Each time I managed to actually play more notes — even at the correct time. In other words, I caught the end of the learning curve and climbed.

Parades are intended to be fun — for participates and observers. Marching in straight rows. Keeping step. Playing from memory. Catching beads or candy or favors tossed from a colorful float.

And then there are other sorts of parades — not as organized or scheduled.

Pelicans parading on a sunny afternoon.


Breakfast Visitor

He arrived twice within a week. Haven’t seen him since.

It’s a bit of a surprise to glance up from my cereal to see a still, watchful creature in the pine tree. Will he stay long enough to get my camera?

And then he moved closer — tried out the grip on my plastic fence.

Guess who I don’t see when this proud fellow visits?

No chipmunks dashing across the patio. Are they avoiding the menu?


Resting on Thin Ice

Winter in the Midwest brings days below freezing. Depending on how North you are in the region — the number of days in a row and how far below freezing varies.

St. Louis is far enough South that you should not trust the ice. (Except for purposely flooded skating rinks.) No matter how smooth and secure it may look — the depth and strength with vary. Is it firmly attached to the shore? Does this pond or lake have open water in another area?

There are animals however, which will ignore this human advice and walk, rest, and sleep on ice unable to support the smallest human.

Canada Geese rest mere yards from open water.



New Year — New Newsletter

Happy New Year!

Today is Friday — just in case two weeks with holidays in the middle have you confused.

My author persona is starting a newsletter this year. The first issue will be released later this month. Second issue will be in the summer. The intent of the newsletter is to keep readers, and potential readers, up to date on the writing side of my life. No clogging of email boxes by this author.

Interested?  Sign up is simple — make the comment “yes” to this blog post.

You’ll get the first look at the cover of my next book. Want a hint???

The St. Louis Zoo is a great spot to take a date.