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Recipe for a Perfect Winter Day

First, you need snow. Next, you need company.

The snow started after dark, in the wee hours of Saturday morning. So by the time we woke up we had FINALLY a blanket of Winter White to celebrate.

It’s been an extraordinarily mild Winter so far here on the Long Island Sound, so this could very well be the our only chance to watch a Red Wing blackbird come to our bird feeder. Although the way he is perched on this branch (see below) you can’t see the bright slash of scarlet on his wing. Although I could plainly see that he was eating snow the whole time he flitted through this forsythia bush in the backyard.

Our bird feeder has small perches and low feeding windows, so it’s best suited for small birds like these.

Usually we put out a plate of seed for the Cardinals and a plate of dry cat food for the Blue Jays who are too big to fit on the feeder. Because they know damn well that there is grub up there in that feeder and they get mighty annoyed if they have to just sit and watch the pipsqueaks enjoy the banquet.

But FINALLY one smart Jay figured out how to FINALLY swing it so that he could fit his huge butt onto this itty bitty feeder:

I LOVE this guy, hanging from his toes to dip into the feed bag here. I was laughing as I took these pictures from the other side of the picture window in the den, and I’m sure that the Jay heard me. Because he gave me the hairy eyeball:

Well, he must have taken offense because he then turned his back on me.

Heart.      Be.      Still.

This is the shot that I call the Blue Jay Map, because here are all the feathers that I lust after. Here, on the bird, are the heart-breakingly gorgeous tail feathers and the stunningly beautiful flight feathers that I collect and treasure.

This picture is so important to my — and your — understanding of Blue Jays that I will post this below in detail so you can scroll and savor.

Here is your own Blue Jay Map:

But this delicious Winter Day wasn’t all about birds.  We had plenty of other critters hanging out in the backyard on this fine snowy day. Even the opossum waddled out of the basement…at the exact moment that Dudley was rounding the corner to check out the bird feeder:

It happened too fast to photograph, but Dudley stopped in his tracks as Pogo Possy shot past him and Duds had to choose: opossum in the bush, or birdies almost in the  hand? Poor Duds: his mind just doesn’t work that fast. So Duds just got confused in the snow.

Miss Candy was out and about, pawing her delicate way around the new fallen snow.

While her boy, Taffy, was leaping and hopping, frisking after snowflakes and jumping into small drifts.

He tried to get Dudley to share in the fun, but Duds wasn’t having it.

Although it looked to me that Duds was certainly enjoying the snowfall in his own contemplative, birdie-wishing way.

But I know what you’re all really interested in on this first and perhaps only Snow Day of Winter 2012.

You want to get to the Champagne-O-Meter.

Overnight, the Champagne-O-Meter had gained a nice little cap of snow by the time I checked in on it at 8 o’clock in the AM.

By 10 o’clock another half inch of snow had fallen, but the weather was just about to change to wind-driven sleet.

Conditions remained cold, but wet, throughout the rest of the day.

Shortly before dusk, I took one last measurement and determinded that we topped out at about three inches of packed snow.

And then it was time to add the last ingredient to my recipe for a perfect Winter day:

Take a bottle of the first and perhaps only backyard- ice- and- snow- chilled Champagne-O-Meter of the Winter of 2012, add one Top Cat.

Blend in front of a roaring fire with a Frank Sinatra CD playing in the background.

13 comments to Recipe for a perfect Winter day.

  • janet bellusci

    so glad to see the CHAMPAGNE O METER come full circle. a wonderful end to a fabulous day. i am so excited to have my own BLUE JAY MAP (thank you!)…was trying to find something for a stained glass window design, and this may just be what gets it goin’.

  • Carol

    Growing up we used to see Blue Jays all the time, beautiful birds.
    Where I live as an adult, I have never caught a single glimpse of one. My big bird joy is the pileated wood peckers that grace the woods here. I always chuckle when they keep calling until we go back into the house and then they move in closer. They clean barn spiders from the eves and deck areas of the house. I detest the spiders, but love to watch the birds get them.
    Sadly I lost my favorite tom cat in September. Taffy’s snow antics remind me of his playfulness in the snow.
    Are your cats afraid of the opossum?

  • Rachel

    What an ABSOLUTE delight to experience winter in your back yard this morning. I will always remember the cat technique for walking in snow, place paw into snow, lift previous paw, shake off snow, place paw in snow, lift previous paw, shake off snow, repeat until arriving at destination. Back when I had both cats and snow. I suspect there might be at least one more good snow day for you before spring.

  • THE place I go first thing on Friday is always your blog!
    Thank you for the Blue Jay map, we have several come to the table on the back porch, if I’m attentive I can tell them apart. But never do they sit still long enough to check out their feather patterns.
    And I’m so glad you let Pogo Possy come in and stay…opossums live only about 2 years and their lives are hard. Having a warm spot to sleep and bird feeder droppings to eat makes his/her life so much better.
    We’re having rain, all yesterday and last night so I’m betting your snow is gone, too….more to come later this week maybe?

  • Jacqui

    TODAY is my birthday. I could not have asked for a better picture story than this…..scrolling down the winter scenes of birds, cats and critters to the champagne o’ meter with grand fireplace finale brought happy tears to my eyes….que magnifique!!
    A wonderful gift…thank you so much Vivian!!

  • Sandy

    Yes a perfect day, we got about 8″ on the mid CT coast across from you. It was lovely and yes, may just be the lone snowfall of extra warm winter 2012?
    PS that bluejay is to die for!!

  • Deborah

    Happy birthday, Jacqui! (And many more)

    Glad to see your winter wonderland. We have above average temps and standing water, and the neighbors’ chickens have discovered my ground bird feeder. I love watching them. I am charmed by their sweet, soft clucking.

    Yesterday I heard of a shop in Pocahontas, Arkansas that sells clothing they make from possum hair yarn. I’ve put that shop on my ‘must see’ list.

  • Nadine

    Your yard should get a reality show of its own. That’s a lot of wild life for a Long Island backyard, and the wine never gets spilled.

    Good to see the Pogo Possum is doing OK with the tribe, and the Hobos are still romping like kittens. And bravo on the beautiful blue jay photo! Wow, I didn’t know they had so many different blues in their feathers.

  • Helen McHargue

    I just came in for a break from fertilizing my roses and weeding in my yard in Fallbrook, California. It’s clear and 78 in my backyard and the sun beats warmly on my back. Cats are rolling on the lawn and chasing lizards. Normally I’d say I wouldn’t trade place with anyone on the planet and then I read about your wonderful snowy day. You actually made me miss the winter season….for a couple of minutes. Your champagne o meter is just the best!

  • Champagne-o-meter! The next time I’m in a Champagne village I’m going to show them this post. I have no idea what they’ll think but I think it’s the only way to measure!

  • Cheers! And thank you for the photos of the cats in the snow- that made me so VERY happy today for some reason.

  • Wendy John

    You are one of those people who see the beauty in the mundane, and the miracle of every day life. You’re funny, sassy and sweet. I own your first book and will own your second. Your blog is just the best….. thank you! The cats and their little stories are wonderful.

  • Jeannie

    I love that blue jay. They don’t visit us here and on the west side of the state they have Stellar Jays which are almost crow size. The kitties are so funny. Your backyard is as active as our’s in the country. Count so far is – Rocky Racoon, Q Porcupine, Sally Skunk (and family), Phineas Pheasant, and 3 stray kitties – and it has been a mild winter! When the elk show up, I’ll probably have to make corn bread for them. Have a beautiful weekend.

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