WPC: Silence


Snow muffles our noisy world.  Falling snowflakes seem to absorb all sound and the world is hushed.



The normal routine is put on hold. 

School buses and garbage trucks don’t churn through the neighborhood streets today.  Leaf blowers and lawn mowers remain silent.

Traffic has come to rest at home in snowy driveways.



We all took a snow day today.  Schools were closed everywhere from Roanoke to the Eastern Shore.

Many businesses closed or reduced their hours today, and I believe most of us were content to stay at home and keep warm against the January chill.



I kept vigil, much of the day, watching out of our windows as fine snow filled the air and accumulated, ever so slowly, on leaf and ground, rail and table, car and walkway.

It was late afternoon before our wet patio was finally cloaked in whiteness.



It was a quiet day for reading, for finally getting to that long put off project, and for wandering the snowy garden, camera in hand, in search of that quintessential image of Silence.



And what I noticed today, is that silence is visual as well as auditory.

A snowy day transforms the most casual image into sepia tones blanketed in white.  Our garden’s colors are silenced by the cold and muffled under snow.



There is a reason we yearn so for ‘peace and quiet.’

Today has brought the blessings of silence and the rare gift of peace, wrapped in a snow-globe world of white.



Woodland Gnome 2018


“We can make our minds so like still water
that beings gather about us
that they may see, it may be, their own images,
and so live for a moment with a clearer,
perhaps even with a fiercer life
because of our quiet.”
W.B. Yeats



For the Daily Post’s
Weekly Photo Challenge:  Silence

WPC: Names



We had more than 10″ of snow on the ground at first light this morning, and it has been snowing steadily all day.   It’s a good day for the simple joys of making soup, enjoying a book  and watching the snow fall.

Folks are only leaving home today if they have to, and the roads in our region are treacherous.  Schools and some offices will likely stay closed for a few days next week.


For the Daily Post’s

Weekly Photo Challenge:  Names




Oh, the joy of winter!




Photos by Woodland Gnome 2017

Sunday Dinner: First Snow

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“My religion consists of a humble admiration

of the illimitable superior spirit

who reveals himself in the slight details

we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble mind.”


Albert Einstein


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“Age has no reality except in the physical world.

The essence of a human being

is resistant to the passage of time.

Our inner lives are eternal,

which is to say that our spirits

remain as youthful and vigorous

as when we were in full bloom.

Think of love as a state of grace,

not the means to anything,

but the alpha and omega.

An end in itself.”


Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez


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“For a seed to achieve its greatest expression,

it must come completely undone.

The shell cracks, its insides come out

and everything changes.

To someone who doesn’t understand growth,

it would look like complete destruction.”


Cynthia Occelli


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“You do not need to go

to any temple or church to worship God.

The whole existence is God’s temple.

Your own body is the temple of God.

Your own heart is the shrine.

You do not need to subscribe

to any religion to experience God.

The only religion you need

to experience God is love,

kindness and respect to all beings.”


Banani Ray



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This is our first snow of the winter.  First forecast as rain, then as ‘a dusting,’ the  weather forecast is changing yet again.

As the storm intensifies and the temperature drops, now we are hearing that we may get a few inches of snow.  Nearly an inch has gathered in the grass now; and puddles on the patio, from our early morning rain, have begun to freeze over as snow landing there lingers in the slush.

Winter has finally blanketed our garden in penetrating cold.  It is the way of things, and a necessary passage of rest and dormancy before the coming of spring.


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My dad and I attended an opening at a local gallery in mid-December, and were interested in an eclectic collection of bird feeders made from re-purposed glassware.  We purchased a few as gifts.  And since then it has remained my intent to construct a few myself.

A trip last week to the Re-Store, with a good friend, yielded the odd bud vases and hollow ware needed.  And so on Friday, I constructed a few glass feeders by gluing the pieces together with a special glue made to hold glass and ceramics. 

I also made a batch of “Ron’s Suet Cakes” from the recipe the artist sent along to re-fill his glass ‘sculptural’ bird feeders.  This easy recipe is laced with Cayenne pepper to keep squirrels, and other rodents, away from the feeders.


Here is one of the feeders I constructed on Friday.

Here is one of the feeders I constructed on Friday.


Like many, we prefer to ‘feed the birds’ naturally through a garden planted with those berry and seed producing trees, shrubs, and perennials they prefer.  Knowing that song birds need a diet rich in insects, we expect this rich habitat provides them with an abundance of tasty insects, too.

But we also provide additional food to sustain our birds during winter storms.

And so this enriched ‘suet cake’ project has proven timely. 


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I’ll share Ron’s recipe so you can make a batch of this special winter bird feed yourself, if you are interested.  I was pleased with how quickly it set up.

After filling the three feeders I made on Friday, there was enough left to fill two small plastic cups to use as ‘re-fills’  for one of the original feeders my parents kept.  Thirty seconds in the microwave was enough to let me pour the mix easily from the plastic cup into their glass feeder yesterday.  I swished a little fresh birdseed in the plastic cup to clean it thoroughly, then piled that seed on top as an extra offering to their garden birds.


This feeder, made on Friday, will be shared with a friend.

This feeder, made on Friday, will be shared with a friend.  The vase sits over a dowel or a spike of some sort to hold it steady in the garden.  Additional seeds can be added to the saucer. 


This recipe yields about 4-5 cups:

1.5 cups of lard

Several good shakes of Cayenne pepper and an additional shake or two of red pepper flakes, if you have them

1 cup crunchy peanut butter

1 cup plain cornmeal

1 cup rolled oats

1 cup birdseed mix

Any ‘extras’ you want to add, such as shelled sunflower seeds, dried insect larvae, Niger seed, etc.  I added about 1/2 cup of shelled sunflower seeds.


Melt the lard in a small pan on the stove over a medium heat.  Add the pepper as the lard melts so that it is well flavored.  Squirrels hate hot pepper and won’t eat seeds treated with Cayenne.

Turn off the heat, and add the peanut butter to the melted lard.  Stir as the peanut butter melts.  Finally, stir in the cornmeal, oats, and seeds.

Pour the mixture, before it sets up, into any glass, metal or plastic mold.  You can also use this mix to coat pine cones.  Attach a wire for hanging to the cone before coating it.

I like this recipe for winter feeding because of the fat content, which will help the birds survive the cold weather coming.  This is a neat alternative to feeders filled with dry seed, which often gets wet and mouldy after a hard rain.  It will also keep rodents away from the feeders, if that is a problem in your garden.


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Our first snow of the season came quietly, almost without warning, and has left the garden transformed.  So beautiful and cleansing, snow invites us to stop and take notice.  We break out of the routine to simply sit and watch it accumulate.  A magical winter light fills the garden, bouncing off each icy flake. 

Listening carefully, we can hear it falling, piling up softly but steadily on every leaf and branch. 


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Winter finally has arrived in our Forest Garden.

Woodland Gnome 2016




Snow Washed

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Oregon Grape Holly

Snow began falling late yesterday afternoon, after a day of wind and plummeting temperatures.

"Adam's Needle" the day after the snow.

“Adam’s Needle” the day after the snow.

It began in the half-light an an early dusk, and continued on into the night.  Our lawn turned shiny white within the first hour.

The nest in the Crepe Myrtle tree, left from last summer is now filled with snow.

The nest in the Crepe Myrtle tree, left from last summer is now filled with snow.

We chose to leave up the Christmas lights on the deck and front shrubbery  in hopes of snow, and were not disappointed.  They illuminated the snowy night.

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The shrub in the foreground is Beauty Berry. You may remember it covered in tiny purple berries this autumn. Beautiful even in winter, it will get a hard pruning sometime in the coming weeks. It blooms, and produces berries, only on new wood.

All trace of clouds cleared out sometime after midnight, and  the sun rose early over a snow covered garden.

This morning dawned clear and bright, even if still bitterly cold.

This morning dawned clear and bright, even if still bitterly cold.

A coastal storm, this snow stretches down into the outer banks of North Carolina much farther than usual, and up the coast to Maine.  We ended up with about four inches here.

A few songbirds have returned to the garden, appreciative to still find seeds in the frozen Lantana bed.

A few songbirds have returned to the garden, appreciative to still find seeds in the frozen Lantana bed.

The bright sun is helping us clear walks and drive, but it won’t warm out of the 20s today.

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A general snow day has been declared across the entire area, with everyone cautioned to stay at home when possible.  Virginia is like that, at least here near the coast.  Since we don’t have snow every winter, and rarely have much fall at a time, we just aren’t prepared to handle it the way other communities might be.

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So, today is an extra day of vacation for many families .  A beautiful snow day!

Autumn fern in our garden stands up even to this winter's frigid temperatures and snow.

Autumn fern in our garden stands up even to this winter’s frigid temperatures and snow.

All Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

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The first fall of snow is not only an event,
it is a magical event.
You go to bed in one kind of a world
and wake up in another quite different,
and if this is not enchantment
then where is it to be found?
J. B. Priestley

Our Forest Garden- The Journey Continues

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