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Earlier this week, I saw the biggest snowflakes I had ever seen. No kidding — they were the size of half-dollars. It was beautiful, but enough is enough. I can hear the birds, and I went out once or twice without a jacket in between flurries. We still have a mound of ice on the back porch shielded from the sun (it almost reached the back door window for months), and I had to chop some of it out of the way so we could use the grill for the first time this year (shishkabobs).

But while things were very snow-covered and very frozen, I decided to shovel a “virtual driveway”.  The constant plowing and replowing crowded the edges of the usable pavement closer to each other with each pass, to where there was little chance of making it down the street if people parked on both sides.  I chopped what I could, but having one less car on the street (and not parked the heck-and-gone away) was a bigger incentive.  I figured if the parking police drove by, they’d never know there wasn’t already a driveway there.  Heck, the neighbors weren’t so sure there hadn’t always been one!

This winter also marks war against the quirrels. They were not content to steal all our strawberries (and many tomatoes) last year. It has escalated to sabotage. When the winshield wipers failed, the mechanic extracted caches of frozen balck walnuts — a tree no to be found over the street but f rom a neighbor’s back yard. I know this well because we’ve found their leftover shells in mounds on our deck more than once. It cost $300 to replace the motor.

Since then, we hired a mercenary, or so we hope. More of an adoption, actually. We’ve been cultivating a relationship with a local stray, Sven (the next-door neighbors call him Tiger), and have been feeding him daily to stick around. When a huge, REALLY cold storm was coming, I hastily built a dog-house of sorts, usable for Elmo in the summer. Not having time to shingle and roof it (yes, my wife insists I do this eventually), I stapled scrap plastic to it.  It definitely saved him from the storm, but in better weather, he prefers to sleep in a basket outside our living room window — a lot. One of our indoor cats, Berta, seems to seek him out and keep him company much of the time, visiting prison-style on the other side of much glass.

The day he brings a dead squirrel to the door will be the day he eats expensive canned food.