The surprise lily's foliage emerges from the ground in late winter. The green leaves look a lot like those of the daffodils, only a little larger. Unlike the daffodils and other bulbs currently (or soon) pushing their way up out of the soil, the surprise lily doesn't bloom -- not now, anyway. The foliage will grow until the weather starts getting hot and then it dies back. Then, in late July or early August when the foliage is totally gone, the surprise lily sends up a two to three foot tall stem topped by a pale pink flower.
Surprise lilies are also known as magic lilies or naked ladies. They are native to southern Japan. We have three clusters of these plants growing randomly in the yard. They were here when Jo and I arrive. We've often talked about digging up the bulbs and moving them to better locations, but we've just never gotten around to it.
There certainly isn't any of that snow left, and hasn't been for a couple of days. Our high temperatures are pushing sixty degrees. I'm not at all sorry to see the snow gone.
This is the "bench" road down into the woods from our house. It's part of the loop we walk most every day in the winter. A naturally occurring shelf above the creek was widened (a little) and cleared (a little) and turned into a road -- if you've got four-wheel-drive. They say that back when horses and wagons were the only means of transportation -- besides walking, of course -- this was the only road off Star Mountain and down into Bear Creek Valley. Maybe so.
We didn't see much sunshine today. As a matter of fact, we didn't see any sunshine today. Fog was fairly heavy until around noon -- and when that finally lifted, it revealed overcast skies. Oh, well. At least the temperature stayed above freezing all day -- and all night, too.
My main project for the day was cleaning all the accumulated creosote out of the chimney cap. I've been noticing that the wood stove wasn't drafting at all well and I figured that the cap was plugged, but I didn't want to be crawling around up on the roof while it was still covered with ice and snow. Today, most of the snow was gone, so I dragged out the extension ladder and did the job. That chimney cap was almost totally plugged with the particulate matter that had condensed out of the wood smoke when it hit the cold air. I don't see how the stove was drafting at all. Actually, the entire chimney probably needs to be brushed out, but I'm going to see if I can get by without doing that job until next fall.
We had a herd of deer grazing out in the garden. There were a total of seven does. Jo took several photos of them, but never could get all seven in one shot. They just wouldn't pose for her. Eventually, one of our dogs looked out the kitchen window, saw the deer and began barking. The deer left, but they'll certainly be back.
We're shooting for twenty-four hours with a temperature above freezing --- lots of drip, drip, dripping going on. All the snow has turned to slush, except for areas where we've walked a lot. There it's turned into slud, a combination of mud and slush. Around the stump where I split some wood yesterday is a really big mess.
Even after three days of subfreezing temperatures, the daffodils out front of the studio are holding up well.
Jo and I were able to take our normal loop up to our pasture, then down and around through the woods on our afternoon walk. Near the trail down the back side of the mountain, we discovered a tree that had been struck by lightning, no doubt in the thunderstorm that preceded this cold snap.
Even with the temperature above freezing and much melting beginning, clusters of icicles still clung to the bluffs where water had seeped out of the rocks.