In the High Peaks

Friday, November 9, 2018

First Snowstorm & Stack Up of Early Winter Books

I didn't learn until this morning that we were to be in the midst of a 3-6 inches of snow this evening, our first real snowfall.

I did know that we were going to get really cold again, which I was happy about, because it means I can go all over the woods without the slightest worry about ticks. Ticks come to life again only at 40 degrees F, so scientists have revealed.

So today, before the snow started, I drove 20 miles to buy all sorts of bird food. Black sunflower seed, thistle seed, and beef fat, a treat for the woodpeckers and blue jays. We can't feed too early in the season because raccoons tear apart our feeders. Those sharp claws and teeth are so destructive, the little varmints! Not only that, but the birdseed is also a lure for bears before  hibernation, at a time when they're eating everything in sight. (In deep cold, raccoons don't biologically hibernate, but their metabolism slows down and they let go of their craziness and leave the feeders alone. In deep winter, they just don't hang out.) But if we warm up again too much (to 50 degrees), the feeders will have to come down.

So as soon as we established the bird feeding stations and Ken called the birds in with his famous chickadee calls (he's very good!), I was off to attend to my knitting and audiobook, Famous Father Girl: A Memoir of Growing Up Bernstein  by Jamie Bernstein, the oldest child and oldest daughter of Leonard. Now that I'm more than halfway, I can say that this memoir is riveting and has been eye-opening for me, perhaps especially because I am close to Jamie in age.  (Jamie is 9 months my senior.) In the first chapter or two, I thought her reading pace was a little too fast and too wild for me to closely attend, but after the first couple of chapters I either adjusted or she modulated her pace, because after that time, I have found her reading to be nuanced and extremely well done. Such a sensitive memoir of  an unusual, yet fascinating family and life. The memoir is really a memoir of the entire Bernstein Family.

Oh, yikes! The lights have gone out this very minute! So glad to have a candle by my side.
We've just lost power again for the second time in less than a week. Yes, indeed, we are very thankful for our automatic generator, but losing power so often is annoying. I mean, we've only had 3-4 inches of snow so far. So what's the big deal? On our mountain road, we look at each other and shrug our shoulders.

For new Christmas-related books, I have purchased  Christmas on the Island by English author Jenny Colgan. I thoroughly enjoyed her Christmas novel last year, Christmas at Little Beach Street Bakery (set in Cornwall). This latest Colgan Christmas title sounds very interesting as well. I believe the island she has in mind is just off the coast of Scotland.

After mournfully returning Winter in Paradise by Elin Hilderbrand, her latest, I purchased one for the Nook, and can now read it at my leisure. I read almost a third of the novel before I had to return it to the library. I may start over at the beginning. 
Elin Hilderbrand is fascinating. Did you know that she's a graduate of the acclaimed Iowa Writer's Workshop, the  coveted master's program at the University of Iowa? I was surprised, to say the least, mostly because of the published authors I know who attended that program.
Not to downplay Hilderbrand, mind you,  because after all she is a master of pacing a story, and has command of her territory. But most of the graduates tend to be more "literary" writers.

To be truthful, I don't know where to go with my reading right now. I'm still deep in the middle of The Bestseller by Olivia Goldsmith, the entertaining treat that it is, all 654 pages of it.


  1. I so enjoyed this posting! We don't have raccoons that visit the area around the house. Maybe they are in the woods, but we've seen only one in the 37 years we've lived here. Is 'beef fat' what I buy as suet? I really want to read the book by Jamie B. Thank you. I hadn't heard of it. I've not read Jenny C. but have now put three of her books on my library list. They don't have the Christmas books. Again, a lovely post.

    1. Hi Nan,
      The senior butcher at our meat store says that suet is the fat that is found near and surrounding the liver in beef cattle.
      I have found that the beef fat he sells me, which covers the muscle or meaty tissue in cattle, is well loved by the blue jays and woodpeckers. I think suet fat is denser fatty fat, as I have purchased it other places.
      And thank you so much for your kind words about the post!

  2. Had no idea Hilderbrand was a graduate of Iowa Writer's Workshop... that surprises me! I do enjoy her novels, but it does seem like most writers with that background are more literary.

    I have not read Jenny Colgan, but I've been tempted by the beautiful covers of her novels.. How's that for shallow? ;-) Might make for good December reading...

    1. Hi JoAnn,
      Beautiful covers definitely lure me in to a book. I am a huge fan of picturesque book covers that take me away. They are a big part of the pleasure of reading for me.

  3. Oh my, you are having snow storms and we are still having fires. Actually the fires are well below us to the south and we are only affected by air quality, but it is always a reminder what can come. And there is a really bad fire up north of us too (very far away). And it has been a coolish weekend here, especially for mid-November, which can be very warm in Santa Barbara. Hope you have been able to read and enjoy it.

    1. Hi Tracy,
      We have been very concerned about the fires. I can't imagine the upheaval for those threatened--the evacuation of 100,000 people. The dislocation. The devastation. It is horrible.
      I'm about to get ready to head out into the snow. We are getting up to 8 inches or more in two storms coming this week. Snowshoe clean-up time.
      I think later, during actual winter, we are expected to be warmer than normal, so I'll enjoy this snow while it lasts.

  4. I meant to mention this before, but I had to check my facts - anyway, Jenny Colgan is actually Scottish, not English and though she lived in England for a while I think she has relocated to Scotland now. We don't have raccoons and my bird feeders seem to be squirrel proof. At the moment I'm just putting out sunflower hearts but the boring sparrows have claimed the feeders as their own!

    1. Hi Katrina,
      Thanks for letting me know about Jenny Colgan. It does make sense that she's living in Scotland now, because her most recent books have had Scottish settings.
      You're blessed to have no raccoons!!
      Even our most devilishly fiendish squirrel-proof feeders do not evade the pesky, small red squirrels.
      But!! If I keep enough seed on the ground for them and the blue jays, they stay off of the feeders.
      Ahh! Boring Sparrows!! I'd be very curious to know their real names, so I can look them up.
      We had a few White-throated sparrows a week ago, but they left on Monday or Tuesday, probably realizing they are supposed to be in Georgia by now.
      Two red-winged blackbirds today. They had better get out of here. We're going to be below zero F again by Thanksgiving. They fly to the southeastern US as well for the winter.