Summer(y) Afternoon


Summery view on my way home from work yesterday afternoon

“Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.”
― Henry James

Here in upstate New York we seem to have leaped right from winter to summer.


A view on my drive home: a farmer getting his fields ready for the new growth of the season

I suppose it’s apropos for this time of year. Mother’s Day is coming up on Sunday, with a forecasted temperature in the mid-80’s (Fahrenheit). I can remember at least one Mother’s Day when it snowed. So goes the climate upstate.


Summer view in Spring

For now, I’ll enjoy the summery hints of days to come. Lots to do today, but I hope to enjoy some time, as Henry James seems to exhort in his quote above. It may only be Spring but summer is coming…

What’s your favorite thing/aspect about summer?

Actual Temperature -19 F

That is not a typo.

imageHere’s the read on my vehicle’s outdoor temperature gauge to prove it. 19 degrees BELOW zero at 7:30am.

And that doesn’t include wind chill. It’s bitingly cold. My daughter walked outside, laughed, and said, “Wow, this makes my lungs hurt.”



It requires wearing one of the these: a long (to the knee) parka filled with down. Believe it or not, by the time I got to work I was too warm.

Of course my husband calls me a human furnace anyway. It’s much easier for me to get warm in the cold than it is for me to cool off in really hot weather. Must be the Germanic, British, and Celtic blood in me, LOL.

imageI find this weather lovely and beautiful. Outdoors it’s glorious, everything suspended in a kind of frozen tableau, with the snow creaking from cold and the view overhead especially vibrant. This morning’s sky took my breath away with its pretty colors, textures, and trailing white jet plumes.

The stars last night were brilliant, too, when I took our dog Cassie out for her last outdoor visit of the night, around 11:00pm. I wish my camera could have captured the utter sparkling clarity of Orion’s belt, but night sky doesn’t show well with my current photo set up.

imageI do feel badly for those who have to be outdoors in the cold without adequate protection, like these Amish folk in their carriage this morning. I know they often have little heaters or coal boxes in the foot area, but on frigid mornings like this, it just doesn’t make much difference without a fan to blow the heat around.

But it’s all part and parcel of living in the great north country of New York State, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything (Shhhh…don’t tell my husband, who fancies the idea of being a “snowbird” and flying to warmer climes in the winter, come retirement-time!) 🙂

Cold But Beautiful


Look at that gorgeous gentle pink and blue morning sky with the moon resting atop it!

The weather in Upstate New York has been pretty typical for January (though by the reactions of many people online and in person around here, one would think we’d never experienced a cold snap before, LOL).


Lots of sand helps my studded snow tires to get me up this curvy, snowy road on my way into work

It’s below zero degrees Fahrenheit on the thermometer and -25 or so with wind chills factored in. The snow groans and creaks when my tires roll over it on the road, and sucking in a breath upon stepping outside can make your lungs seize up.


Sunrise over the snowy fields


Another pretty shot of the morning moon in the frigid, pastel sky

But I love it – mostly since I don’t have to work outside in it, have a nice warm home and workplace to retreat to – and because it’s pretty. The pictures sprinkled throughout this post are from my ride to work yesterday morning. Just gorgeous, tender, lovely hues to everything.

I’m a winter baby. My husband is a hot-weather lover. He’s always looking to get away to somewhere warm, and I’m always reveling in my warm cups of tea, coffee or cocoa, listening to the wind howl, the cold snap, and watching the snow swirl around.  I guess opposites do attract! 🙂

The Snowman: The Only Constant is Change

imageAs I mentioned in my last post, it’s begun to snow in Upstate New York. It’s very pretty in many ways, if a little early and a little cold, and some of the scenes I encounter in my travels recall a few bittersweet memories for me.

But first, let me say that I know the snow isn’t technically early for this area (I’ve lived within 150 miles of my hometown for most of my life), but I prefer if it holds off until after December 1, when I can more suitably get into the holiday spirit (of course I wouldn’t mind if it drifted away by February and spring would arrive, but that doesn’t usually happen until April or May)

Anyway, as I was driving into work after this first, several-inch snow,  it called to mind images from one of my favorite holiday books/movies, The Snowman by Raymond Briggs.v2-CD7662962Peacock%20Theatre%20Sa

This story – which I associate primarily with the film version, because of my at-the-time very young daughters’ insistence that we purchase it on VHS and play it several times each holiday season – makes me feel bittersweet (as I think it was intended to do for readers/viewers anyway).

For me, now, however, the bittersweet feelings the film and music (a lovely score with “Walking in the Air” by Peter Auty) engender in me are compounded by the fact that my daughters are no longer little girls. That time has passed and exists only in my memories now. Awareness of this creates a little catch in my throat sometimes…a sense of nostalgia and longing that burns for a second or can even make me tear up a bit.

imageThat’s what happened as I saw these scenes of snow-covered farm land and fields. It made me long for the days when my daughters were little and reveled in the simple, innocent pleasures of snuggling up on the couch with me, holding warm cups of cocoa as we watched The Snowman together.image

It is the way of the world, I suppose: The only constant in life is change.

Here’s the full video of the film version of The Snowman for those of you who haven’t seen it before (or just want to watch it again). It’s definitely Christmas-oriented, so if you’re like me, and try to hold off until December to indulge in such festive material, then feel free to bookmark and come back to watch later! Or just do a search on YouTube and you can find it there. 😉



Shades of the USSR Night Train


Waiting for a night train in Upstate NY

I live in a pretty suburban area (well, it’s a small city, surrounded by rural areas). We drive everywhere in cars, and the nearest (tiny) train station is about 20 minutes away.

Hence, it’s been a couple years since I’ve been on a train…and much longer since I took one at night. In fact the last time I rode a train at night was when I was 21 and an American student, living and studying in the former USSR.

Just this past weekend, I found it necessary to take a train at night again (long story involving some other travel and a death in the family, necessitating my attendance at the wake in another city). It was only an hour long train ride, from point A to point B, but waiting in the old station  – pretty much every train station in Upstate New York is “old” – and then standing at trackside, for the train to come in, brought to mind that other time and place from two and a half decades earlier.

I got used to riding the night train during the months I lived in the Soviet Union. It was the most common form of travel in and around the cities (primarily Leningrad and Moscow for me), and my “free” time after classes, which I used to explore palaces, museums, and the countryside around, usually brought me back into the home station during darker hours.

But I always felt and was “safe” because there was virtually no crime on public transportation or on the streets at that time (the citizens were too fearful to step out of line, and there were soldiers with big guns wandering all over the place)…but the atmosphere was oppressive to say the least.

My latest night train experience, I’m happy to say, was a little different (and the seats were more comfortable too). 🙂