A Frosty Morn

ringneck-doves

Just came in from feeding the animals.  It is cold again this morning.  It was colder yesterday morning at 22 degrees, which for Western Washington, is cold.  Since we have rather high humidity, the cold is more penetrating.  For those who live in the mid-west, they probably would consider these temps a heat wave. Ha!

Everything is frozen outside, so the first thing I had to do when getting suited up to meet the weather challenges was to fill a large bucket with very hot water.  The doves, the baby chicks and the molting old hens all need to have their waterers unfrozen.  I also filled the birdbaths with warm water as the poor wild birds have no place to drink.

We have one baby dove who is just now fending for himself and I was worried that he might not make it through this cold.  This morning he is huddled in a corner trying to keep warm as his mother has now abandoned him since he can feed himself.  He was fine and jumped right in when the feed was provided.

The ten chicks, which are now two months old, are very hardy, but today I gave them their first cracked corn, which helps warm the chickens from the inside out.  The also got fresh bread, which they chased all over their pen.  The cold doesn’t seem to faze them.

The old hens, however, felt the cold.  Why do they choose to molt just when the weather turns cold.  Molting, as I have mentioned in earlier pieces, is the process of losing all their feathers and growing a new set, which means they are not laying any eggs.  So we are between eggs with old ones molting and new ones too young yet.  I hate buying store eggs.

The plantings in the yard look sad, especially the rhododendrons that lower their leaves as though dead or dying.  This is the way they look in the heat of summer when they are in dire need of water.  I always hate the look of them in this cold.

I know when things thaw that there will be lots of mud because the frost has pushed up around the stones in all the pathways making crunching noises as I walk out to do the chores.

The advantage to all the trouble above is THE SUN IS SHINING. It is a trade off.  If we have sunshine, we have cold weather.  If it is in the 40s then it will rain and be grey.  Yesterday and this morning, we can bask in its warmth and enjoy the vitamins it gives to us, though begrudgingly in winter.  Makes me feel perkier already.  Amazing what a little sunshine can do for your mental health.

Guess I will go for a walk and enjoy it.  Never know how long it will last.

The Moon is Shining as Bright as Day

Ballerinas awaiting their turnA couple of nights ago, I got up during the night (1 a.m.) to address the call of nature (an old lady thing) and thought that we had left a light on outside. Or maybe my husband’s truck had the interior light on inside the cab. I peeked out the window and the moon was shining as bright as day. I remember when I was small we had a clear, bright red phonograph record of children’s songs and this one was on it. Whenever I see the moon so bright, I sing this in my head. Does anyone else remember this song? The following is from Wikipedia.

Girls and Boys Come Out to Play’ or ‘Boys and Girls Come Out to Play’ is a nursery rhyme that has existed since at least 1708. It has a Roud Folk Song Index number of 5452.

Lyrics

The most common versions of the rhyme are very similar to that collected by James Orchard Halliwell in the mid-nineteenth century:

Girls and boys, come out to play,

The moon doth shine as bright as day;

Leave your supper, and leave your sleep,

And come with your playfellows into the street.

Come with a whoop, come with a call,

Come with a good will or not at all.

Up the ladder and down the wall,

A halfpenny roll will serve us all.

You find milk, and I’ll find flour,

And we’ll have a pudding in half an hour.[1]

Other versions often put boys before girls in the opening line.[2]

History

The verse may date back to the time when children were expected to work during the daylight hours, and play was reserved for late in the evening. The first two lines at least appeared in dance books (1708, 1719, 1728), satires (1709, 1725), and a political broadside (1711). It appeared in the earliest extant collection of nursery rhymes, Tommy Thumb’s Pretty Song Book published in London around 1744. The 1744 version included the first six lines.

Well, I guess the moonlight always makes me want to go out and dance in it. However, it was the middle of the night and the temperature was about 35F. I declined and tottered off to the WC.

We have had several consecutive nights of bright moonlight. I usually use the lightness of the bedroom windows to tell me if it is about time to get up. The moonlight confuses that. Midnight moonlight and the gloaming of 6:30 a.m. look about the same these days. I went back to bed and went to sleep.

Occasionally when I am driving home at night through the area where I live, which has very straight roads, if the moon is shining bright as day, I turn off my headlights and go home by moonlight. So far I haven’t alarmed anyone coming from the opposite direction. Can you imagine me turning on my headlights when they didn’t know anyone was there?

This full moon is particularly interesting as it is the Lantern of the Lunar New Year. The fifteenth day of the New Year. New Year ’s Day is always the dark of the moon. Then as the moon grows in size various celebrations happen over a two week period. Example: New Year’s Eve, eat jiaozi (dumpling with pork and green onion) and visit with family. Days one through five you should not take anything from your house, even corpses. It is bad luck and you will lose your wealth. We went traveling in Hunan Provence on the fifth day and I commented to my Chinese student “Look at all the funeral processions. Was there a major disaster or accident?” He replied that it was the fifth day. The people who had died after the New Year could now be buried. There was also a slightly larger number of deaths after the new year as people try to stay alive just one more year and succumb shortly after.

Second day, married women visit their parents. This is something that doesn’t always happen as the husband’s parents take precedence once you are married. The seventh day is considered the birthday of all the common class people. They will all celebrate this day. Important figures have birthdays on their day of birth. On the thirteenth day some families fast or eat reduced amounts of vegetarian foods because they have been feasting for twelve days. Day fourteen is a preparation day for the Lantern Festival when new lanterns will appear fresh, and red in front of shops and houses.

Lantern day is celebrated by gifts of oranges. When we lived there, small mandarin orange trees covered with oranges on their branches and about three to four feet tall were given as gifts to family. Sweet rice balls are eaten to commemorate the full moon. Tāngyuán, a soup of round balls is also served. The “ruler of heaven’s” birthday is supposed to be on the fifteenth day. He is responsible for good luck, good fortune and wealth.

So dancing in the moonlight is probably a good thing. Even though I want to do it now, I will probably wait until we are sleeping outside this summer when dancing in my nightgown won’t pose issues of hypothermia.

Happy New Year.