Winter that does not stand still | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #hacker

My magnolia tree outside of Tehama Hall has been getting better and better each day, because I’ve been watching it each day. (Heather Hacking/Contributed)

All you need to do is pay more attention to squirrels to notice that animals change when the seasons change. Squirrels start acting more “squirrelly” when the air smells like decaying leaves. They gather nuts as greedily as we grabbed toilet paper during COVID. Their body language is pensive, and scattered, because they know they need to hurry.

In the spring, the squirrels in my ‘hood turn batty, squeaking in a tone that makes you understand why every song in the cartoon “The Chipmunks” contains high-pitched intonation, recorded in slo-mo and sped up to sound like those rodent inhaled instant coffee. In March and April, the squirrels outside my front door chase each up the tree in spirals, so quick you would only see a blur if you tried to take a photograph.

Personally, seasonal weather changes my mood. In fall I feel introspective and sometimes nostalgic. In spring I want to ride my bicycle in a long skirt and my skin feels like it is reaching out to the sun, the way you feel on a date when you can feel the person next you but you aren’t touching.

In mid-winter I feel a lull — when time stands still in the gray. The quiet of day and night goes on for a few beats longer than you think you can stand. The only remedy is to eat too much ice cream and browse gardening books. In mid-winter we’re at the outermost end of the elliptical orbit of the earth around the sun. Without gravity we would drift off into the nowhere of space. Yet, at the last possible second, the forces of gravity yank us back, toward the light, and on our way to flowers and trees brave enough to push out new leaves.

For some reason, this year winter never felt like our rotation came to a complete stop. Perhaps this is because the fall was long and beautiful, with leaves that lingered and continued to color my world. Was it more beautiful this year because I stopped often to notice the autumn leaves were beautiful? I think so.

I was still on high alert in late December when I noticed that what looked dormant was actually about to burst open after a little more rain and a little bit of sun.

I watched the saucer magnolia tree outside of Tehama Hall, each day the buds growing more swollen. The peach tree was also ready to go and when I pruned it at eye-ball height, the nodules for new growth were well on their way. Even when I lost a few potted plants on cold nights when I was too busy to save them with sheets and blankets, I barely blinked. Dead plants means empty pots and I still have a gift card for Magnolia Gift and Garden. I’ll enjoy buying a few six-packs of flowers in March, April and May.

If you’ve been cloistered inside during recent rain, you’re missing out on the earliest of spring which is as delightful as baby animals at the Silver Dollar Fair.

Last week the Bossman gave the green light to rent a 12-passenger van for the weekend. The international teachers, who are under my wing at work, joined Bethany and I as we traveled through the rain to the almond orchards. The group tumbled out during a break in the drizzle to take group photos next to the carefully cultivated rows. I drove slowly on the overpass near Blossom Lane and heard the gasp of delight from each passenger, the white of the flowers contrasted with the green weeds between trees and that dull gray sky.

When the rain threatened real business, we ducked into the Patrick Ranch Museum for a tour of the house and a walk along the porch, where hydrangea flowers have faded and new growth is ready to burst at the first sign of steady sunshine.

Visiting the best places in and around Chico was literally my job that rainy weekend, and thankfully, the crew in the white van enjoyed seeing the Sacramento River, so swollen and light chocolate brown, only a few feet from the rocky banks that protect the road. An egret and the blue heron on the Glenn County side of my river didn’t seem to mind that there were circles in the fast-moving water, created from the fat raindrops.

Soggy camelias, Daphne odora so fragrant you stand in the rain until your glasses fog. It’s still the middle of winter and there will be more reasons coming soon to keep your eyes open.


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