Ice Storm

January 29-30, 2005

Ice storms are rare enough in the Atlanta area that it is always an experience of extremes. One upside is that we are perhaps more sensitive to the beauty of ice formations like thes on nandina berries at Mark's house. The downside is that over a quarter of a million people were without power, largely because pine trees just cannot take the load of ice like this storm brought.

It was a crisis for the birds as well since they had a hard time getting through the ice. We threw out seed and bread crumbs and this titmouse was there promptly.

After warnings all week, we awoke on Saturday morning to this view of the neighboring roofs outside our bedroom window. It was only an inch or so of ice accumulation, but it certainly played havoc with the city.

Our feeders did a brisk business with lots of birds on the snow below them. Additional seed on the snow brought flocks of birds.

The leaves of the camelia bush were sheathed in ice. It had been blooming two weeks ago during the mild beginning of January.

Brenda's comment about the icy mondo grass above left was that it looked like frozen green beans. The ice-sheathed dogwood bud above right was fascinating to me - new life for spring locked in the icy grip of winter.

Dogwood buds in ice.

Holly leaves showed their brilliant green through their icy sheaths.

The early-blooming quince found its blossoms covered with ice. You can see the pattern of the sleet that fell and adhered to the blooms. It is also interesting to see the limbs wrapped in ice.

We wandered down to Mark's to see the ice on his holly and nandina.

Mark's cat Paquita was at first reluctant to wander out on the ice, but her curiosity got the better of her.

Icicles formed on every available overhang, from the sheds to the birdhouses in the back yard. Unfortunately they formed on all the trees and falling trees and limbs took a sizable fraction of the Atlanta area out of power. We lost power about noon and had to spend the night in a cold house. We got up early and went to Cracker Barrel for breakfast and they lost power about 15 minutes after we got there. The whole staff came out by the fireplace. They brought us biscuits and coffee and fortunately their power was restored after about another 15 minutes and we continued our breakfast.

We came back home to watch the large flock of birds that had gathered at our feeders. We had not seen the bluebirds much since early summer, but the pair appeared on this occasion. We were happy that they remembered where we were.

This cold-looking goldfinch and the bluebird pair were perched in the icy tree just outside our den window.

The downy woodpecker is a regular visitor to our suet feeder and is one of my favorite birds. We were delighted to be able to feed the birds in this hour of need. In terms of joy, they certainly returned the favor. Just about every variety of bird that we have seen came to our feeders during this two-day period. To see all of that life and beauty and to feel a small part of provision for them was indeed a blessing to us. We praised God for just the time of relaxation and fun that had been thrust upon us.

I had felt sorry for the couple of robins I saw on Saturday trying to find food on the hard ice shell. But on Sunday with the thaw they were obviously in their element! There must have been two dozen robins in our yard, and they seemed to be having a great time.

With the dozens of birds flocking to our seed and suet feeders, the robins confidently ignored us. They could take care of themselves!

With the coming of the robins is the promise of spring. The first of the non-resident birds to return, they brave the ice and cold winds in the hope of abundant food in the spring. So we are one more ice storm closer to springtime. We got our power back about noon after 24 hours of fending without it, and could sit in a warm house in gratitude, watching the cycle of life begin to repeat itself.

Praise the Lord!

Jeff and family visit

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