Pastoral Winter

14 January 2007

Ah, winter. It’s cold in Oregon. Very cold.

The older I get, the better able I am to predict the regular, natural flow of the weather patterns. (This is frustrated somewhat by the gradual shift caused by global climate change, but the general trends hold true.) The last few years have each been unusual in some way or other. Last year was very wet, for example. This year, however, had been a by-the-book Portland winter, and that trend is continuing.

We had a light dusting of snow late in the week, and then the cold weather set in. I expect this in mid-January. I expect the coldest snap to reach us later in the month or at the beginning of February. That’s also the most likely time for good snowfall.

Then, in mid-February, the sun will begin to exert its presence, and the clear days won’t just be clear — they’ll be warm, too. I remember those days fondly from my years at college: everyone traipsing around in shorts because the high temperatures approached sixty degrees, people lounging around the plaza. Good times.

Now the clear, bright days of winter — whether cold or warm — mean yardwork, especially on the weekends. There are fruit trees to prune, grapes to prune, berries to prune, roses to prune, hedges to prune. I could spend my whole life pruning.

It’s nice, though, to be working in the yard with the birds, and the cats (who like the birds), and my wife (who likes the cats and the birds). It’s a pleasant, relaxing thing, and a fine change of pace from my constant connection to the computer.

Yesterday morning, I spent some time outside with the cats. Simon, Nemo, and Meatball helped me prune the grapes, the apple trees, and the berries. They thought it was great fun. I thought it was cold. My fingers and toes were numb within minutes — how must their paws have felt? I’m at something of a loss when it comes to pruning. I have a book that is intended to guide me, but actually raises more questions than it answers. I should check to see if the extension service has better information.

Simon had some excitement while he was out. The new renter across the street has the annoying habit of letting her dogs loose without supervision — she opens the door and lets them roam free. They’re nice dogs, and I like them, but I don’t like the way they come tromping through our yard. Yesterday the larger of the two spied simon and chased him up the cedar tree. sigh He was stuck about twenty feet up, cold and frightened. We left him there for about an hour before I decided to coax him down. He scooted down butt-first, squeaking his whiney little cry the entire time, until he was within reach if I stood on tip-toes. Then he wouldn’t come any further. He kept looking down at me, squeaking. I managed to grab his fat ass and pull him down, and he ran inside where it was safe and warm.

Pastoral lifestyle, indeed!

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