My Reminiscences of events, old and new, and travels, far and near
Wednesday, February 17, 2021
More birds, fog on Monteagle and snow in Nashville
Last Christmas morning, you may remember that I mentioned on my blog post "Cooking for the Holidays" that I had been surprised by a murmuration of starlings in my backyard. But this time the birds were robins, a flock of them. They flew on my back deck, so many I stopped counting at 45. They kept moving and it was difficult taking photographs. I decided to just concentrate on individual birds. (Click on collage to enlarge.)
I enjoy watching birds but am not knowledgeable about them. I read up on the robin - the American robin is a large songbird with long legs, round body and a fairly long tail. They are the largest of the thrushes here. American settlers named these birds "robin" because they looked like the European robins, but actually they are not from the same family. The American robin is from the subspecies of Turdus migratoris. The European robin is from the subspecies of Saxicolinae. They both have a reddish orange breast, although not as pronounced in the European robin. In winter the American robins form flocks (sometimes hundreds or thousands of them,) to avoid predators. During the spring and summer they are mostly independent. They came in my backyard two consecutive mornings, flying from the trees to my deck or the ground.
The third morning I looked for them, but they did not come back. But I have many postcards with robins on them. Robins were a favorite subject on vintage greeting postcards, especially during the winter holidays.
In January I missed my monthly trip to Georgia because I was waiting for the Covid vaccine. I finally received the first shot on January 28th. Then I drove to Georgia for about 10 days in early February, returning last Sunday. The trip to Georgia took 6 hours because of road work being done on interstate 24 close to Chattanooga. After driving for one and a half hour for what usually takes 20 minutes I took the side trip through the North Georgia Mountains. It took as long but I was rolling. Coming back last Sunday I was hoping the trip to Nashville would be faster, even though I am always apprehensive about the mountains near Monteagle, Tennessee. And sure enough - I drove through Chattanooga under overcast skies with no problems, but then as I ascended the steep incline towards Monteagle I entered the fog. The trees and vegetation had suddenly appeared covered with ice. As the fog kept thickening I decided to exit the highway at the travelers' rest stop. A good thing I knew its location, too, because the exit ramp was barely visible. As it is, a huge truck could not see it and at the last minute veered in front of me toward the rest stop (giving me a shot of adrenalin...)
Parking the car carefully I decided to take my time, eat my snack and drink coffee in the car hoping the fog would lighten up. There were only a couple of other vehicles and they departed. I kept watching the trees. I thought when I can see them better I'll start driving again.
About 45 to 50 minutes later I started seeing the trees.
I had heard sounds of engines nearby but seen no vehicles. I came out of my car to check. Surprise! I could count as many as 14 or 15 snow trucks parked behind me and more were coming. I became worried that maybe Nashville was under heavy snow. I asked one of the drivers where were they heading - Memphis, Tennessee he replied. Why? It's going to snow heavily starting on Monday there and they have hardly any equipment he said.
I forgot to ask about Nashville weather, so I decided to start moving down the steep downgrade. I did not need to drink coffee to stay alert while driving down that dangerous descent - it always gets my undivided attention. In the 1980s that stretch of east-bound I-24 was notorious for killing truck drivers. Later they improved the interstate there but crossing Monteagle is still one of the most notorious stretches of mountains interstate east of the Mississippi. With some trepidation I began driving following a couple of 18-wheeler trucks. Visibility became better as I came down the road.
Traffic close to Nashville was very light. Bad weather was forecast and motorists had been told to stay inside. It was dry when I arrived at my house but by evening it started snowing. On Monday the roads were covered with snow and it was very cold. It snowed during the night and today, Tuesday 16 February, 2021, not much is moving. The temperature is a frigid 13 degrees F (-10C) which is unheard of around here. It did snow heavily in Memphis - up to 12 inches yesterday (30.5 cm) so those snow trucks I had seen were certainly needed. I realized that today is Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday in French.) How I wish I was in New Orleans! Because of the virus they are not having their usual parades. The parades are cancelled, but not the Mardi Gras celebration. Instead the residents, who love a party, are decorating their houses to celebrate. I looked at the New Orleans site and a couple of newspapers. Photographs below courtesy the Gentilly Messenger and Allen Boudreaux.
Since there would be no parade this year, Megan Joy Boudreaux asked everyone to turn their house into a float, as a joke. But the idea took off and she started a Facebook group, the Krewe of House Floats, for her neighbors. Then 39 subgroups joined with more than 9,000 members. Thousands made "house" floats. Vive New Orleans and its great spirit that a pandemic cannot suppress!
It has been frigid here all day. It looked so pretty though that I thought I'd walk around the block to take pictures. A couple was coming down the road with walking sticks as I was taking pictures from my front porch. As they passed my house the woman fell in the snow.
I took pictures to my right and to my left, then gingerly walked to the road and took one photo. But then my fingers were numb from the glacial air.
After a nice warm cup of tea I ventured to the back deck for some pictures. My cat Mitsouko was looking at the deck, hoping to see a bird; too cold for birds and other critters, but a lonely fox was walking down the back alley.
My daughter and son-in-law went for a walk at the golf course near their home today and sent me the photos below.
They look like they are standing somewhere in Alaska, not just south of Nashville. Although today, Mardi Gras 2021, it was 28 F in Anchorage, Alaska, and 11 F (-11.66C) in Brentwood, TN... just saying... Here in my street the sun is starting to come back; next week hopefully it will warm up.