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Latest from The Spokesman-Review

Valentine Swan Song

  (photo by Cheryl-Anne Millsap)

 

    The wind slipped cold, cruel fingers down my collar and teased at the heavy scarf around my neck and it fluttered and danced around my face as I walked carefully down the slushy sidewalk. The afternoon sun was high and bright but the temperature was still bitingly cold.
    I’d been wandering in and out of the shops that line the main street of Traverse City, Michigan,  looking for some kind of token to bring home with me. Valentine’s Day was coming.

    I picked up a few things as I shopped: jam made from Michigan cherries, a postcard, a pair of gloves. But nothing carried the true weight of what I wanted to say.

    Finally, running out of time, I turned off the main street and walked toward the shore of the Lake.


    As I navigated the path, I was careful to avoid the iciest patches. The deep snow formed a high white wall around the edge of the lake and I noticed there were no other footprints. A few cars were parked at the edge and the occupants were protected as they ate their lunches and gazed out at the water, but no one else was foolish enough to get out and face the relentless cold.

    I stood there, open to the wind that poured across the lake freezing everything in it’s path. My face was numb, my eyes watered. My toes and fingers ached.

    The deep azure color of the lake, rimmed by snowy beaches and green hills, flowed up toward the sky in bands of blue broken only by small clouds.  There was a skim of ice on the water closest to the shore and for a few minutes I watched a pair of swans, side-by-side, floating languidly in the frigid water. I remembered reading that swans mate for life and wondered, again, if it is true.

     
     Finally, surrendering, I pushed my hands deeply into my pockets and started to turn away but stopped when the pair of swans moved. As I watched, in a slow, subtle, water-ballet, the pair turned slightly toward one another, long necks gracefully arched, heads pointed down to the water, swimming breast to breast. And for a moment, at least from where I was standing, the space between them formed the shape of a perfect heart.

    Swans live their lives the same way so many humans do, it’s just that our seasons are longer. We court in the spring, have our young in the summer and in the winter, after the young have left the nest, we are content to swim alone, close to our mate for comfort and company.


    My fingers were cold and too slow to bring out my camera and by the time I pressed the shutter the swans had turned away. But I had found my Valentine.


    I was looking for a card or a gift but it took a pair of wild winter swans to show me the way.
 This Valentine's Day, all I really want to say is that when we are winter birds, I will still be here. I will always be the other half of the heart.

Cheryl-Anne Millsap writes for The Spokesman-Review. Her essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of “Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons” and can be reached at catmillsap@gmail.com
  

Tolley takes a big fall

“I had to meet with someone from Serve Spokane to see if they would like to partner with SustainableWorks for our upcoming South Hill Campaign this morning at the South Perry Cafe. After parking on Perry I stepped onto the sidewalk and WHOOP, my feet slipped out from under me because of the freezing rain.  
I write to tell you because it was so sweet that two nice ladies stopped their cars to make sure I was okay. I was. I fell on my behind and there's plenty of padding there, so I'm fine.  
Nothing broken but my pride. I though it was Blog worthy that the people are so nice in South Perry even when it's nasty freezing rain outside.”
Via e-mail this morning from Luke Tolley, SustainableWorks Organizer.
 
And the blog finds this extra funny because Luke is now a neighborhood activist both in Hillyard and on the South Hill. Go Luke… but try to stay on your feet.

Immigration sweeps round up 13

Here’s a news item from the Associated Press:  IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (AP) — Federal immigration officers arrested 13 illegal immigrants across southern Idaho last week and all but one are expected to be immediately deported. The Post Register reports the Boise office of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested 10 men and three women in a four-day sweep that ended last Friday. Seven people were arrested in Idaho Falls, with one each in: American Falls, Firth, Hamer, Lewisville, Shoshone and Sugar City. ICE spokeswoman Lorie Dankers says 12 have final orders of deportation. One man was turned over to the Bonneville County sheriff’s office for an outstanding arrest warrant on battery charges.

Immigration raids nab 22 in Magic Valley

A federal immigration “enforcement surge” across the Magic Valley area has resulted in the arrest of 22 immigration violators, including two who now face federal charges in Idaho. One of those two had previously been deported four times, and also had been convicted of cocaine possession. Six of those arrested had criminal histories, from drug possession to theft to domestic violence. Fifteen, including those six, had previously been ordered deported. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement “fugitive operations teams” based in Boise and Salt Lake City made arrests starting Tuesday in nine Idaho communities including Burley, Buhl, Castleford, Hailey, Jerome, Rupert, Shoshone, Twin Falls and Wendell. Most of those arrested were from Mexico; there also was one each from Nicaragua, Honduras, Peru and Russia.

ICE spokeswoman Lorie Dankers said the two “most egregious violators” will be charged in federal court in Idaho with illegal re-entry after deportation. The other 22 are in ICE custody, where they’ll either face an immigration judge or be deported. “ICE is committed to smart and effective immigration enforcement that targets individuals who pose a threat to public safety,” said Steven M. Branch, field office director for ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations  in Idaho.  “ICE is committed to identifying those who come to the United States, commit crimes and blatantly disregard our nation’s laws.”

Turn the valve to OFF

If the stalactite sized icicles around your sprinkler heads aren’t enough incentive, the City of Spokane has a request for homeowners.

Turn off your sprinklers.

Seems there are problems this morning with water from sprinklers running down the street, turning to ice and making slick spots on the streets. That’s apparently from sprinklers that are watering frozen ground, which, as one might imagine, does not soak up much water. For a homeowner, that might be marginally better than the alternative, which involves the water in the pipes being just as frozen as the ground, bursting the pipes and sprinkler heads and creating improptue ice sculptures.

So, to repeat, turn off your sprinklers. And drain the system to avoid frozen pipes and heads.

City Water Department also has some other cold weater suggestions, which are reprinted inside the blog. They’re the standard things, but this may be the earliest we’ve printed them.

I wouldn’t want to be them…

Right now this is what many of the area school districts are up against.

Seattle’s no-salt ideal for roads: hard-packed snow and ice?

“Compact snow and ice” is a familiar cautionary refrain to winter drivers, but in Seattle, it’s apparently what city road crews are striving for.

The Seattle Times has a story about this today, quoting a city transportation official as saying that the goal in hilly Seattle is “a hard-packed surface” of snow and ice. From the story:

The icy streets are the result of Seattle’s refusal to use salt, an effective ice-buster used by the state Department of Transportation and cities accustomed to dealing with heavy winter snows.

“If we were using salt, you’d see patches of bare road because salt is very effective,” Wiggins said. “We decided not to utilize salt because it’s not a healthy addition to Puget Sound.”

No word on whether auto-body shops are viewing this as an economic stimulus plan.