One Way Mirror

We took down our Christmas lights today. No more blue glow from the porch this evening.

A day or two after Christmas, the world changes — completely. Christmas trees and decorations are still up, but seem less relevant with every passing minute. Shame on anyone who dares to play (or hum or whistle) a Christmas tune. The excitement that started building in November has reached a climax and dissipated. The deadline of Christmas Day is dead, and new ones appear on the horizon. Valentine’s Day. Birthdays. Spring break. School holidays. The wheel of the year must trace an entire revolution, through budding, blooming and fading, before those coloured lights of the winter solstice look right again. The only way to get there is forward, through the raw brightness of the new year.

For some reason this abrupt shift was especially acute this year. It may be because on New Year’s Day a strong northeast wind came up, bringing a week of cold, dry weather. OK, it wasn’t true Canadian cold, but cold enough for us West Coast types — minus 5 degrees C (23 F) at the nadir, which came last night after the wind finally dropped. But air hovering around the freezing point feels murderously cold when propelled by a 30 or 40 knot wind. That wind seemed to blow Christmas and its trappings right out of town, intensifying the effect of the annual post-holiday shift.

Another slightly disconcerting thing was a feeling that I should be going back to work, as though the nine months since I retired on March 31st were just an extended holiday, now over. I have to say I’m happy to reassure myself that it’s not so, emphasized by the fact that the first new items of clothing and footwear I’ve acquired since then are without question “loafing clothes.”

Cozy lounging sweater (with hood) and purple felt slippers.

Cozy lounging sweater (with hood) and purple felt slippers.

Remember those geraniums (pelargoniums) I resolved to pull through the first episode of cold weather several weeks ago? Well, I added extra insulating materials and covered everything with a tarp. When I unveiled them today they looked alive, but I’m wondering if they’re actually green zombies that will eventually show their true deadness by turning brown.

Pelargoniums tucked in against the cold.

Pelargoniums tucked in against the cold.


Slush Day!

For the past several days, news media have been preoccupied with Preparing for the Big Snow Storm, amplifying weather forecasts into a news story. A lot was made of a shortage of domestic salt and “ice melt” in local stores. It’s true that after a fall of ice pellets, rain and snow a few days ago, an inch of ice resulted. A few hardy souls (moi included) got out on Tuesday to crack and shovel. No salt needed, and a good workout to boot.

But there was no Big Snow Storm last night, not where I live, anyway. An inch or two of snow fell overnight, followed by rain. By daylight, it was a pretty typical West Coast snow scene, as exemplified by this 3-foot tall snowman across the street from me.

It looks as though someone roughed up the little guy and stole his carrot nose. One of our urban deer, perhaps?

It looks as though someone roughed up the little guy and stole his carrot nose. One of our urban deer, perhaps?

This morning, I dutifully went out and shovelled the slush off the sidewalk in front of my place, making sure there was a slush-free canal along the gutter so the water from melting snow would flow to the drain. Melting may be short-lived, however. Environment Canada is predicting low temperatures of -8 degrees C (18 F) for next week. I’ve noticed that they tend to err on the dramatic side, so have my doubts whether it will be this bad, but…

But perhaps I should lug my pots of pelargoniums (non-hardy geraniums) inside. I’ve resisted doing that so far, because they are a nuisance indoors all winter, taking up too much space, getting leggy, catching aphids (from where, I ask), and generally looking terrible by spring.

So I muffled the pots with old bath mats and toilet garments (those sets of fuzzy fabric designed to be wrapped around toilet tanks and seats for some mysterious reason*), and draped a sheet over all. With luck, it won’t prove to be a pall for dead pelargoniums.

Will the sheet protect the pelargoniums from Jack Frost?

Will the sheet protect the pelargoniums from Jack Frost?

Otherwise, the only plants whose survival I worry about, should temps drop as low as predicted, are Convolvulus sabatius, a nice little blue cousin of the evil bindweed, Convolvulus arvensis, and, strangely enough, Gaura lindheimeri. I’ve had a hard time wintering that one over, even though it’s said to be hardy to Zone 6.

White Christmases are rare here, so the predictions of continued cold weather (due to an outflow of arctic air along the valley of the Fraser River) have some (but not all) hopeful that this might be one of those years.

A snow of yesteryear -- not at Christmas, unfortunately, but February 2011.

A snow of yesteryear — not at Christmas, unfortunately, but February 2011.


*I’m thinking I could write a blog post about this.