Shades of Blue Valentine

I coveted a friend’s hat yesterday–especially when she said she’d crocheted it the night before. And so I was thankful when she sent me the pattern last night. My plan had been to whip up a hat for myself, but after leading two fun hikes, I did all I could to keep my eyes open while watching British comedies.

b-blue hat 1

This morning, however, I pulled out a skein of blue wool I’d been saving for something special and wound it into a ball. Then I started to follow the pattern. Ah, but my ability to complete something exactly as planned went missing from my make-up long ago and be it recipe or pattern, in no time I make it all my own, never to be repeated again. Sometimes, especially when it comes to a recipe, that’s a good thing.

b-hat 2

The finished product looks more like a toilet paper cover my mother might have made, but I rather like it. And so I wore it as I piled on the layers to head outside.

b-thermometer

According to the thermometer, it was a balmy +5˚. The wind chill was another factor indeed. It certainly felt invigorating.

b-feather branch

One of my first delightful finds was a small feather caught on a tree branch. I didn’t see any others, so I’m not sure what happened, but that downy fuzz looks so soft and warm. Hardly worth shedding.

b-hat branch

My hat was not worth shedding either, but several times the branches snatched it. I do believe the tree spirits approve.

b-turkey 2

Everywhere I ventured, it seemed the turkeys had been before–their oversized prints pointing the way.

b-turkey sashay

At times, the pattern they created gave the effect that they’d sashayed along–as if they owned the place.

b-turkey frozen

And other times I found their signatures frozen in place–for the time being.

b-junco 2

Other patterns also caught my attention–like the prints of dark-eyed juncos. These little snowbirds hop along on the ground as they feed, so their tracks are often visible in our mixed-coniferous forest.

b-junco 3

At the beginning of tracking season when we didn’t have much snow on the ground, my friend Jinny Mae and I were momentarily confused by these. Now they are imprinted on our brains.

b-junco 4

Two-by-two, they remind me of teardrops. Between hops, toe drags are visible.

b-mouse1

Looking rather similar and thus causing confusion are the prints of white-footed or deer mice. I can’t tell you which of the bounders left these behind, but the tail mark down the middle indicates it was one of these two.

b-snow & ice

Among the zillion things that I love about winter is the color blue caused by light absorption. Light waves travel into the icy grains and are scattered among them before being reflected back to us. While we see white snow when sunlight bounces off surface layers, the color blue is apparent when more red light is absorbed by the grains. It clarifies the feel of this brisk day. The sound of the snow creaking and crunching beneath my feet also indicated the temperature–COLD.

b-witch hazel bud

But . . . warmer days are coming–eventually. Until they arrive, the scalpel-shaped bud of witch hazel survives despite its lack of waxy scales for protection.

b-witch hazel 2

Like hobblebush, however, it has a hairy coating that must provide some warmth. I have to wonder if the little hairs absorb the sun’s rays.

b-deer heart 2

Shades of blue even outlined this print–though there’s also an appropriate wisp of rose surrounding the shape.

Most people see red on St. Valentine’s Day. I favor blue. Happy deer-heart day!