Let It…Snow??

Northwoods Journal
Friday, October 31, 2014

Mark worked from home yesterday (Thursday) morning while I went to work to party like a 3-year-old on Halloween. This is me with my co-workers. I’m the candy corn.

Mrs. Evans Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, Doctor Mrs. Williams and Mrs. Corron Candy Corn.

Mrs. Evans Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, Doctor Mrs. Williams and Mrs. Corron Candy Corn.

We cleaned up from the party lickety-split and I was home by 11:45. Mark had almost everything loaded up in the FJ so we were pulling out of our driveway by 12:10. It was a fairly easy drive up and we made it in the usual amount of time, just hitting rain north of Saginaw that stayed with us the rest of the way. Somehow the gloom made the drive seem a lot longer than it was.

Mark drove in through Elk Valley and we did not see any elk but we did see three deer.
Everything seemed to be in good order when we arrived. The temperature was hovering around 40 degrees inside the trailer, so I turned on the two radiant heaters and Mark set to firing up the wood burner right away. I still had to keep my coat on the entire time I unpacked.

I put out the bird feeders first thing and we had blue jays within minutes! Once I had the bird feeders out, I was able to unpack everything and put the electric blanket on the bed. (I had heard a rumor there might be ** snow **.)

After we got everything unpacked we took the dogs for a short walk before dark fell completely. We didn’t go far, just up Stevens Spring to the trail that goes back to Sportsmen’s. We didn’t see anything of interest and it was too cold and wet to go very far.

Since Thursday is my normal grocery shopping day, we had to run into town to get a few groceries for our weekend here, including something for our dinner. The new Ace hardware is open at the back of Freddie’s supermarket now, but we didn’t take time to check it out. Instead we hurried to get our groceries and get home to eat because by this time we were starving! We settled on smoked sausage fried up with a can of sliced potatoes, baked beans, focaccia bread and some Welsh cheese. A meal fit for a king, in my opinion!

Despite the handful of immune-boosting supplements I take every day, I have been fighting a sore throat and cough virus for nearly a week, so it was early to bed for me.

We stayed warm all night and didn’t really need the electric blanket. Mark got up at seven but I stayed in my warm cocoon until nearly eight and it was still mostly pitch dark out! It had rained most of the night and was still raining when we got up. As we sat at the kitchen table drinking our coffee, we watched as the rain turned over to snow. I guess the polar equator is living up to its name this weekend!

At first the only birds were the blue jays – I counted nine at one point – but soon a hairy woodpecker arrived and eventually we had chickadees, white-breasted nuthatches, tufted titmice, and a red-bellied woodpecker. Also the chipmunk came out from under the porch and a black squirrel came to steal some breakfast.

Blue jays were my first visitors this morning.

Blue jays were my first visitors this morning.

Mark bought a new rifle for deer hunting and wanted to go down the road to the range to sight it in. The snow didn’t deter him, but I stayed put where it was warm and dry – although I did go out and get a picture of the snow.

Snow falling on cedars. (Or whatever kind of evergreen this is, LOL.)

Snow falling on cedars. (Or whatever kind of evergreen this is, LOL.)

When he got back we ran into town to The Baklava Shop and, praise be, there were still cinnamon rolls left! I guess the nasty weather kept people at home this morning. Mark got his required shortbread and we also got a cherry strudel and some raspberry thumbprints. It’s a good thing we don’t have a Baklava Shop back home!!

Of course Daisy was nagging for her hike when we got back. She obviously didn’t pay any attention to the snow falling or the wind or the cold temperature. We bundled ourselves up and put Ruby’s sweater on (she has really thin fur and is always shivering) and got ready to go.

Snow or not, the beagles want their hike!

Snow or not, the beagles want their hike!

Not wanting to drive anywhere, we just went up the power lines across the road and followed the ridge up to “Wayne’s World” – which is still for sale for an astronomical price.

Snowy ridge.

Snowy ridge.

It wasn’t bad going up but coming down we were walking right into the icy wind and snow, so I was pretty chilled by time we got back to the trailer. The wind was gusting pretty hard so I told Mark it was time to face his most hated chore – putting the storm windows back on! We tag-teamed – I took out the screens, he put in the storms – so it really didn’t take long at all.

Lunch was beef barley soup, which even from a can tasted pretty good on this cold day. We were having so much bird activity I decided to bundle up in snow pants and sit out on the porch to get some photos. Unfortunately, I really struggled. With the heavy clouds, snow, and white-grey-black birds, I wasn’t having much success. I tried all different modes and different settings but I could tell most of them were blurry. I came inside with 50 images and deleted well over half of them. These were a few of my best.

White-breasted nuthatch.

White-breasted nuthatch.

Blue jay chowing down.

Blue jay chowing down.

Red-bellied woodpecker coming to check things out.

Red-bellied woodpecker coming to check things out.

Red-bellied woodpecker sampling some field corn.

Red-bellied woodpecker sampling some field corn.

One more of the red-bellied woodpecker, just for good measure, since he posed so nicely.

One more of the red-bellied woodpecker, just for good measure, since he posed so nicely.

Any of my photographer friends have some simple tips for me to get decent photos in these kinds of conditions? I did finally set my ISO up a whole step, and that seemed to help.  I really wanted a picture of the titmouse but every one was blurry – oh, except this one, of his backside!

Tufted titmouse showing me his best side!

Tufted titmouse showing me his best side!

Since there wasn’t much else going on, Mark and I decided to run back into town and check out the new Ace hardware – which was underwhelming – and then a stop at Family Dollar for a few necessities (like cold medicine). Mark took Blue Jay trail back, hoping to see some wildlife. We did see three deer but they bounded off before I could get a photo. The woods looked like a fairytale, all coated in white spun sugar.

Quiet, snow-covered woods.

Quiet, snow-covered woods.

Trees coated in spun-sugar for Halloween.

Trees coated in spun-sugar for Halloween.

Pretty but I’m really not ready for winter yet!

The beagles had to make do with only one hike today. By time we ate dinner it was dark. We have to set the clocks back tomorrow which is going to suck. I hate the fall time change! Everything outside was icing over as Mark put the dogs out one last time but at least it seems like the snow has stopped. I hope tomorrow the weather remembers that it’s still FALL.

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6 Responses to Let It…Snow??

  1. I think that the photos you posted are pretty darn good for the conditions! About the only thing you can do is go up more with the ISO. I set mine to auto for birds, up to a maximum of 3200. But in some ways, comparing DSLR settings to those of a compact digital are like comparing apples to oranges. You could try using the flash, but that would probably drop your shutter speed too low, I don’t know with your camera.

    Butt shots of birds are normal, I consider them practice shots. 😉

    It snowed here too, but the snow didn’t stick. It sure was windy as well. The first snow is always pretty, then, it can go away until Christmas. 😉

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    • Thanks, Jerry! Increasing the ISO did seem to be about the only thing that helped. I did try using the flash earlier in the morning but the birds were too far away for it to do any good and so the images were all just dark with glowing eyes. LOL

      The snow is almost all gone this morning. Mark showed me a news story where there were people surfing on monster waves in Lake Michigan. Crazy!!

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  2. avian101 says:

    Your photos are not bad Amy. ISO speed is key to help in this weather condition and perhaps multiple shooting mode might help increase the chances to have less butt shots. 🙂

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  3. tootlepedal says:

    I thought that the pictures were pretty good and if I only had to throw away half of my efforts on a gloomy day, I would be very pleased. I can stick my ISO up to 4000 and still get a recognisable picture but it does get noisy. You can’t have everything.

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    • When it comes to me and photography, I’m finding you can’t have very much at all. Something about the mechanics of it is not sticking in my brain. I feel I flounder around trying this and that without really understanding what I’m doing. But, I have determination, so that should count for something, I suppose. 🙂

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