Bright October afternoons of oak and maple leaves swirling in the wind are gone for another year. The last red raspberries and tomatoes have frosted away so only b’sprouts, tiny broccoli and milkweed pods persist in the garden beds.
A few yellowed needles drop from the Bluecircle pines but it will be many years before they make a layer of mulch under a mature canopy. On a recent hike near Gun Lake fallen needles from the tall pines decorated the still-green maples.
But now the first gusts of lake-effect snow have brought shivers to the hilltop. Bronzed leaves that evaded the mulch pile blow randomly between the trees, finding company in the piles that grow by fences and shrubs. And the sun sets low in the almost-winter sky.
My neighbor shared this crisp late-summer view of the Bluecircle Farm from recent aerial photography of the Pomona Point area on Paw Paw Lake. Pines, spruce, poplars and oak march like ragged battle lines across the grass.
As Pomona Point approaches its 150th anniversary Bluecircle Arts recently tried its hand at publishing and crafted a brief history of the Point and its neighborhoods. This is now an e-book: “Pomona Point Neighbors at Paw Paw Lake” http://www.blurb.com/ebooks/586338-pomona-point-neighbors-at-paw-paw-lake . The book expanded a March, 2015 post on this blog about the history of the Bluecircle land to tell the resort history of the peninsula.
Sophie the snow-loving dog was a lot happier with today’s April snow than the bluebirds in the woods. A stiff north wind and freezing temperatures for a second day brought 4-5 frosty inches to the Bluecircle. The Spring greens of lilac buds and the daffodil patch are already re-emerging in the noon sun but it’s too soon to put the snow shovel away in Watervliet.
Downwind of Lake Michigan Winter brings many kinds of snow … tiny grains like white millet, wet flakes that hurry down, or light, dry rafts of giant flakes that swirl around the trees. When the air is cold, dry and gusty and the blue sky is cloudless the sun can burst from behind a lake-effect snow band bringing sudden blinding whiteness. Just as quickly it can be enveloped by the snow cloud and dimmed – temporarily. Yesterday a brilliant morning sun encountered the lake effect and painted gray shadows on the shaded side of falling flakes, making them silent grey invaders headed for the pristine drifts below.
A rainy afternoon made the lake ice into a splash pond resembling mid-March instead of midwinter. This month the cold was like a guest you prepared the house and cooked for who then departed prematurely – days earlier than expected. The snowshoes, long underwear and mittens are collecting dust but at least the refrigerator isn’t full of leftover food.
Squirrels recovering buried treasure where there was a foot of snow last week look delighted while all cross-country ski tracks around the BlueCircle are either icy or washed away. The greenhouse lettuce succumbed to persistent clouds and freezing temperatures so gardening season is finally over.
I prefer a snow-covered dog to a wet and muddy one and she would rather delve into snow piles then almost anything else so maybe the next puff of Winter will bring at least enough for that. Meanwhile there’s time to catch up on indoor projects and plan for Spring.
Even in an unseasonably warm year the dimmed December sun sits low above the horizon. The garden still yields carrots and surprisingly good leaf lettuce, this time the “volunteer” variety that reseeded itself when we tilled that part of the garden in August. The mower deck is off the garden tractor to be cleaned and greased; at least the grass knows this is a season of short days and rest. The year-end accounting of tree seedlings that survived and those that will need replaced is underway and encouraging. Most of next year’s planting will be in a recently cleared area replacing brambles, dead black locust and weeds.