Hornet’s nest tells the true story of snowfall


Remember that high hornets’ nest I wrote about in the Jan. 21 column? Old-timers believed the higher the hornets built their nests, the deeper the snow.

Well, that nest tells the true story about snowfall here, and every day there are a few more inches wiping out the creature glyphs in the now unblemished surface. It reminds me of the slates we had as children that after writing on them you pulled a cover over the message, lifted it and, magically, the writing had disappeared.

A friend in Ashtabula writes to report a 70-inch total so far this winter, and winter is far from over. She sent pictures, including one showing the “bathroom run” for her little dog! Small and even larger dogs are having a problem with this deep snow, although some of them think playing in it is fun. Pottying in it isn’t!

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Sorry to tell you so far the column about the long-lost springer spaniel, Remi, has not solved the eight-month mystery of his disappearance, but his family has not given up.

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If it weren’t so inconvenient, disabling and downright dangerous, the snowfall would be beautiful. I’m sure no farmer finds even one flake pretty! Here my imagination runs riot — thankfully I don’t absolutely, positively have to go anywhere, and the car is in the barn and will stay there until spring — and I fantasize all kinds of things in the wind-sculptured drifts and accumulations. Before my retirement, soon to be 23 years ago, my editor would give me my assignment, “Weather me!” and even then I had fun writing about it.

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In the pasture, there is a golden schooner with white sails plowing through the high seas, leaving deep troughs in its wake. Guess who? Or what? Toby, the golden, white-maned Haflinger, who wades through the surface and is in so deep his legs don’t even show.

When he comes in his whole body, except for his broad snow-covered back, is like one big castanet. Iceballs of many sizes hang and clang from his forelock and long mane, to his belly and to his fetlocks, and I can hear him coming before he even gets here!

Keep in mind: he can come in or go out, as he chooses, and he mostly chooses to be out.

His dear stablemate, Apache, is older and wiser. Yes, he will go out but why should he exert himself when all he has to do is call me and I will come with food that he doesn’t have to dig for. Usually, he’ll nip Toby in the rump and chase him, just for fun, but that’s too much effort in the deep footing. His belly is a lot higher up than Toby’s and he doesn’t have the Haflinger’s characteristic long fetlocks.

The wind has pushed and pulled the snow on the roof of the overhang that it oozes over the edge, like a meringue oozing over the edge of the pie crust.

Atop the barberry hedges are great turrets as on castle battlements, or perhaps they are landlocked sharks’ teeth. The birdbath wears a towering snow cone that diminishes one day and grows the next.

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Feeding the birds is almost hazardous as they wait for me and fly in before I get indoors. Watching them is such a great pleasure, except now there are gangs of starlings moving in and trying to take over.

I sit at the table, armed with a plastic bag which I flap at them and everybody leaves — but not for long. I’m getting a crick in the neck from my efforts.

One does learn to identify individual birds over the course of time. I’ve told you about the male cardinal who has learned to hover like a hummingbird. And now there is a dove — in fact there are a huge number of doves who aren’t the brightest birds in the world — who has the tremors and I don’t begrudge him his share of feed, but most of them are pigs!

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Bingo awakened me last night, growling and hissing as she sat on the radiator at the bedroom window. I carefully moved the curtain aside, and there was a cat on the porch, huddled on the mat at the living room door. Because of the storm front, there was no snow, and I was glad it had found shelter.

When I turned on the light, I was shocked to see it wasn’t the little feral black cat I expected to see, but a big Russian-blue cat — I almost thought it might be Kiki, returned after being gone three years.

However, the visitor was gone in the morning and I will put some food out just in case. I have left the garage door up enough that a kitty could get in to be out of the weather, but the drift is so high there that getting in would be impossible.

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“One can get in a car and see what man has made. One must get on a horse to see what God has made …” Author Unknown.


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A lifelong resident of the Mahoning Valley, Janie Jenkins retired in 1987 as a feature writer and columnist at the Youngstown Vindicator. In June of that same year, she started writing her column, "On My Mind" for Farm and Dairy. She loves all animals and is an accomplished equestrienne. Local history is also one of her loves, and her home, the former Southern Park Stables, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.



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