November showers bring December flowers

Spring in Wales… in November?

As daffodil and snowdrop shoots pop up in gardens across parts of Wales, hedgerows are blossoming with other flowers, including hedge parsley, hogweed, foxgloves and geraniums in full flower.

The birds are singing as if it were springtime, hibernatory animals, including bats and hedgehogs, have not yet been persuaded to go underground for winter, and frogs and newts are still active.

Welcome to global warming. I have to admit, the prospect of missing winter altogether does have a certain appeal.

Continue reading “November showers bring December flowers”

How’s the weather?

Thanks to last weekend’s cold snap, today’s temperature of 9C seems positively balmy. Most of the leaves on the trees came down after two days of hard frost — a steady drizzle that burst into a shower everywhere birds landed on branches. Today the resisters (leaves, that is) are being efficiently vacuumed into the air by a high wind.

Munich seems to get high winds fairly regularly, which was a bit disconcerting for the first couple of months. In Canada –at least in my experience — winds like this are harbringers of some major climactic event, like a violent thunderstorm or a blizzard, and at first I would unconsciously brace myself everytime it happened. However, here the wind just huffs and puffs in an "I’ll blow your house down" kind of way, and then stops. That’s not to say we don’t get some doozy storms here, but I’m assuming that those come up from the south, over the alps from Italy; there’s a definite latin temperament to the ones I’ve witnessed so far. A calm day, and suddenly some dark clouds overhead; a gale-force wind bursts into drenching horizontal rain without much warning, and just as suddenly, it’s over and the sun breaks out. All very exciting for the short while it lasts, but it leaves you wondering, "what was THAT all about?"

While we’re on the subject of weather ("hello, I’m Canadian"), I came across a blog today based out of Inuvik, in the far, far north. Martin of Eclectic Blogs bundled up in the -17C weather and took advantage of 4 hours of sunshine to take some pictures of a (as he describes it) "colourful fall day". Gorgeous. You can almost feel the vastness and silence of the place, well except maybe for the snowmobiles and bush planes buzzing around like annoying mosquitos, and the crunchy snow underfoot. Now that’s what I call weather.

I guess it’s time to come in


The geranium on my balcony seems oblivious to the rest of nature, which is preparing for winter. It just keeps blooming and blooming… I had no idea that geraniums were so cold hardy — it’s still putting out buds for new flowers.

The sun may be shining at the moment, but the weather forecast looks ominous… below freezing on Monday, and maybe a little snow (schnee!!! My new German word for the day). I’m not taking a chance; the geranium is coming indoors!!!

Deep freeze

It’s cold. Not the wimpy kind of cold we Torontonians generally moan about — inducing much eye rolling from other parts of the country, except the west coast of BC, of course — but real cold. 22 below zero cold, with a -36C wind chill.

The first clue that today was even colder than yesterday was when I let the dog out this morning, and my fingers stuck to the metal doorknob — on the inside! My second clue was when I tried to run the shower, and nothing came out but scalding hot water. The cold water pipes have frozen on the outside wall of the building. It could be worse — at least we have hot water, and the cold water is running in the kitchen. I managed to avoid second degree burns by using the watering cans to ferry cold water to the tub.

The third clue owes its dues to Murphy’s Law. The streetcar stop is right outside my door, and runs every 5 minutes during rush hour. This morning I waited with a dozen other miserable commuters, perfect strangers huddled for warmth as far as propriety would allow, waiting for a streetcar that never arrived. Every once in a while someone would break from the crowd to run and stand in the middle of the road, peering anxiously down the street to see if it was coming while the rest of us watched hopefully. Repeated disappointment induced disgusted shaking of heads and stamping of feet. Finally the stamping turned into a stampede of people speed-walking several blocks up to the subway station, suffering all the way. By the time I burst through the doors, my nostrils were stuck together, my forehead and ears were burning, my eyes were streaming, and my thighs were numb. So were my fingers, and it took several tries to hold the token long enough to push it into the slot to let me through the turnstiles.

After listening patiently to my whining (a taste of which you have just experienced), Laird told me he is taking me to Mountain Equipment Co-op tomorrow to buy me a warm down jacket with a hood. I keep borrowing his, so the joke is that only one of us can go outside at a time.

Tonight when I let the dog out, I spotted the raccoon huddled in the tree branches beside the deck, looking miserable. He was gazing sadly at the door, aware that therein lay warmth, orchids to chew, and a big bag of pet food to raid. I really felt sorry for him. So, God help me, I put out some dog food. He gobbled it down, and I refilled it. He looked at me, I looked at him and we called a truce for the moment. Once the cold breaks, the free lunch is over, buster.