No snow in a garage with doors

The exterior of the new garage is now mostly finished, awaiting the arrival of the electrician and crew. Snowfall lags well below our average but the snowblower has gotten a little exercise and the fuel tank may have to be refilled before we bid this season goodbye.

The February sun and a little rain have made short work of the Nordic ski trail that briefly ringed the Bluecircle and Conservancy. But cold nights brought ice back to the open waters of Paw Paw Lake for at least a few more weeks.

Eagle-eyed visitor

Winter storms are seldom boring. Our most recent brought more rain than snow, plenty of wind to prune a few weak maple limbs, and a surprise visitor to our lake bluff.

His/her visit was announced by crow calls from nearby branches – I just had time to find the camera before a gust and wings carried this eagle downwind and away.

A still night freezes the lake

Thin ice grew to a shore-to-shore ice covering overnight as the gale subsided and temperature dropped into the low teens. The lake finally achieved its winter hibernation beneath a shroud of white.

The new garage has progressed from piles of lumber and a plan to a completed roof, windows, slab and partial siding. However, construction has now lapsed while the crew finds a warmer place to work. Delivery of the main doors by the end of the month should let inside construction begin soon.

A new foundation at the Circle

Since the solstice work has begun on the Bluecircle workshop-garage overlooking Paw Paw Lake. The project plan was developed using Home Design Studio Essentials software. Early plans were larger and others more complicated; window, roof and wall concepts came and went. The 70-year old garage it replaces is scarred, roofline and rafters charred and sagging from a near-fatal fire decades ago.

The site was transformed from concrete and sand to studded walls in less than 3 days thanks to Charlie Sample’s dedicated crew and a warm December. The “little green giant” he pilots is now flying lumber to the carpenters – truss framing is underway and the roof deck should be in place this week. Then another dose of lake effect snow will cover the muddy ruts of construction and restore the reality of Winter.

Into the Bluecircle woods

Late Fall sunshine is a welcome visitor though it brings wind instead of warmth. The tall maple and black locust woods harbors two deer and few dozen squirrels, all fattened up for the cold days ahead. The mower is finally parked in the barn and the tree farm is more ready for snow than its owner.

The long-needled Red, White and Scotch pines are now wide enough to span and close their 8-foot rows. Some are nearly 20 feet tall and fallen needles, or pine straw blankets the ground between them. Oak, hickory and maple seedlings have now survived their infancy in the meadow where the blue clay subsoil was too dense or wet for pines.

For over a century the acreage that would become the Woodland Conservancy and Bluecircle Farm was a productive orchard. Now forty years have passed since the last apple and peach trees were torn from the land. The trees and flowers now there are a work of restoration that continues with each passing season.

COLD morning in the Bluecircle

The skies cleared last night to celebrate the lunar eclipse and make way for near-record cold. The farm’s weather station at “East Paw Paw Lake” recorded 15 below after a windless night.

A single woodpecker broke the wintery silence of the morning.

Resting branches

At year’s end a shiny windless day invited neighbors to track into the new snow.  Green patches marked where a pair of does slept in the storm.  The dirt in their tracks was muddy, warmed by recent rains and a little sunshine.  Only distant traffic, the occasional crack of hunter’s practice rounds and the camera shutter break the quiet.

Even light wind today would have relieved the pines of their easy burden of snow.  A few have branches crippled by the heavy ice and snow of a recent storm.  The fallen trunks and limbs in the adjacent Woodland Conservancy now have been cleared from all but one of its trails.

One day of this year remains and rain is again in the forecast. It’s a good time for indoor projects or just relaxing. The first of the seed and nursery catalogs has reached the reading table but for now the trees and farm will just rest.