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We’ve had some cold weather and some snow, but not enough to make it feel like real winter. And now the afternoon temperatures are going well above freezing so the small amount of snow will be alternating between melting and freezing. No one likes that. Sky doesn’t like temperatures below ten so last week I took her to town and she picked out a nice red and black plaid fleece coat. I think she likes it when it’s cold. Hopefully it will get cold again and she can wear it some more this winter. Luna says she doesn’t like the sticky snow. It clings to her feet and legs and makes ice between her toes. She probably should get her legs shaved like a poodle. But with the current conditions, that won’t be a problem. The birds appreciate our feeders and give us endless hours of entertainment. Who needs a tv?

December was generally gray with some snowfall. We really need a lot more snow especially after the New Year’s Eve rain, freezing rain and yesterday’s spring-like conditions. The forecast is showing some snow this weekend. Fingers crossed.

The girls and I had some nice walks in the hills last month and judging by these photos you can figure out (as if you didn’t know already) that two of my favorite subjects are dogs and trees. Maybe that’s why Sky likes sticks so much. Another thing I like is a spot of color on a gray day. Especially red. Even without much snow or sunshine, we enjoy our walks in the hills around the valley.

These bright red birds are delight to see anytime but in the snow their vibrant color really pops! Crossbills are a member of the finch family – like American Goldfinches, House Finches, Pine Siskins and Pine Grosbeaks. They use their crossed beaks to break into pine cones and get the nutritious seeds. They will also come to feeders for sunflower seeds. I have read that if they have sufficient food, they can breed anytime of the year. Before the fire we observed them here year-round. Now they are just an occasional visitor to our feeders. They must miss our pine trees as much as we do.

The weather is notorious for being gray this time of year and sometimes, there’s just not enough snow for it to really seem like winter despite the cold. And once the highway closes for the winter, it is hard to get above the thick layer of clouds into the sunshine. These photos are from earlier in the month at Washington Pass before the highway closed. We were not alone. Lots of folks were skiing and walking and playing with dogs and everyone was happy, especially the dogs. Someone asked if my dogs were puppies. They sure act like puppies sometimes.

Not enough snow for skiing but cold enough that a person needs to wear warm clothes. The dogs don’t seem to mind. Few birds around. I did see my first of the season Northern Shrike. Also Black-billed Magpie, Mountain Chickadees, Common Raven, Northern Flicker and Red-tailed Hawk.

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