February

I guess if I had grown up in Minnesota or North Dakota, I’d be acclimated to the low temperatures we’ve been having.  But I don’t live in a northern tier state, and I’m essentially a west coast, temperate weather person.  So it still amazes me, after 16 or 17 years of living in PA, to see all sorts of outdoor animals going about their business while I bundle up in three layers of wool, bulky gloves, and toe warmers inside water- and wind-proof shoes just to ride my bike for five or six hours on what is not really a very cold day, not by local norms.

Two days ago, appropriately bundled for the 100K ride, Chris and I saw a variety of birds: bluebirds, a red-tailed hawk, and a pileated woodpecker (I think).  A bit later in the day a deer crossed the road in front of us, and we passed a grey cat sitting very still by the side of the road in front of its house.  In the middle of one snowy expanse, a herd of either (or both) Belted Galloway and Scottish Highland cattle were foraging for something to eat.

At home, Jayne and I have two outdoor cats who will sit outside during the day if there are any sun rays to be soaked in, even when the wind is bitterly cold.  And they move along the south-facing flower bed during the day so that they are always in the best spot to catch the most sun.  At night, they have conceded to sleep in the most sheltered corner of our screened patio, as long as we leave the door to the outside cracked open and we don’t step out there for firewood for the wood stove I’ve kept going nonstop for several weeks.

I finished the ride on Wednesday elated that we had managed even a short ride in the middle of a week of near-record low temperatures.  This morning as I write, the wind is blowing snow across the yard and the temperature outside “feels like” -8 degrees according to weather.com.  The outdoor cats are snuggled together in the patio, and cardinals and chickadees are flocking to bird feeders for black sunflower seeds.  I’m in thermal wear, sweats, and ugg boots.  I’m going out to the wood pile momentarily (instead of into the patio, so as not to disturb the outdoor cats) for more wood.

I’m checking the forecast for the next day that temperatures will be high enough that, if I bundle up properly, I’ll be able to go out on my bike for even a few miles.  I’ll be glad when we’re past February.

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