Wednesday, January 29, 2014

frozen over

The sun is shinning and it is -10F, no really.
Tomorrow it will be barefootin' weather by comparison, seriously it will be may-be 15F degrees.
 When I was a kid, way back in those innocent times when you didn't eve say  H-E double hockey sticks, I would hear the expression, "When Hell freezes over.", which always seemed very unlikely to me, but good if I did because you couldn't be sent there for, beaning cars, or throwing spit balls, putting gum in someone hair or worst of all saying "h..l"  Then I reckoned somehow, that it really meant "ain't gonna happen",
Now that my Internet machine and I have access to old weather records I can see that the weather we are having is hardly new,  not exactly common, but hardly new.  Dangerous, uncomfortable, but not new.
And probably has no connection to any kind of "doomsday" scenarios either. 
Though it seems to me that when i was a kid all winters were like this that isn't true either.
In fact, at least semantically hell has frozen over!!!! 
And there are other mysteries and wonder like these snow rollers snapped by some courageous soul in Northwestern Pennsylvania!!! it would be worth the drive there just to see these, I am sure.
With the relative rarity of these bitter temps and winds it will be most likely a very long time before they see these again. One said hopefully.

In many ways we are cursed by our well ordered life style,  the regimentation of job appointments and other responsibilities,  those "must do" things.  I don't think it was that different when those must do things were feeding the chickens and bringing in the wood from the woodpile, but still it was different. 

But then along comes a wonder, like these snow rollers.

Or the incomparable stillness or a gelid night when sound carries off into infinity.

It is all in the way you look at things, which can be said about just about any situation,

A Pot of soup on the stove, and some bread or biscuits in the oven,  makes the house warmer.
Even though with our energy efficient ranges, it is mostly a psychological thing.   

Getting the chance to stop, and marvel, curse, observe, be a part of something uncommon, and uninfluenced by man, is sweet.


Tuesday, January 28, 2014


It is rare that the passing of a famous person makes me feel like i lost someone close to me.  But with Pete Seeger's passing early this morning I lost the best mentor I never knew.  

His words inspired me, especially his words about living, living in tune with the earth, the joy in music, it's history, the people who created it and why they created it.



Pete Seeger:

I usually do a little meditation and prayer every night before I go to sleep - Just part of the routine. Last night, I decided to go visit Pete Seeger for a while, just to spend a little time together, it was around 9 PM. So I was sitting in my home in Florida, having a lovely chat with Pete, who was in a hospital in New York City. That's the great thing about thoughts and prayers- Y...ou can go or be anywhere.

I simply wanted him to know that I loved him dearly, like a father in some ways, a mentor in others and just as a dear friend a lot of the time. I'd grown up that way - loving the Seegers - Pete & Toshi and all their family.

I let him know I was having trouble writing his obituary (as I'd been asked) but it seemed just so silly and I couldn't think of anything that didn't sound trite or plain stupid. "They'll say something appropriate in the news," we agreed. We laughed, we talked, and I took my leave about 9:30 last night.

"Arlo" he said, sounding just like the man I've known all of my life, "I guess I'll see ya later." I've always loved the rising and falling inflections in his voice. "Pete," I said. "I guess we will."

I turned off the light and closed my eyes and fell asleep until very early this morning, about 3 AM when the texts and phone calls started coming in from friends telling me Pete had passed away.

"Well, of course he passed away!" I'm telling everyone this morning. "But that doesn't mean he's gone."

Saturday, January 25, 2014

sorta silent Saturday with the owls

Sometime about mid December the Great Horned Owl begins to call for a mate.
Others species follow suit soon after.  If you are lucky, patient and even slightly skilled at owl calls, it is possible to have one answer your calls,  most species start calling at about sundown and continue through the night,  by the end of January many have already begun nesting.



~~artists unknown to me

Friday, January 24, 2014

a wintery haiku

Each season's landscape and light has it's own spectrum of colors, perhaps because the pallet of winter's landscape is spare, it's light is so varied. 

Frosty breath, snowflakes
strangers traveling the streets
under it's warm glow

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


~~artist unknown

"Mother nature alwyas wins!"  said the woman standing on the melting tundra watching her airstrip get washed away.

Nature, Mother Nature does always win.   In everything from the weather to the landscape to aging, we humans keep trying to change the natural order of things, and it is at best a temporary fix.  People keep trying and we keep loosing.   We cannot  change her , but she can and does change us

The thought running through my head like a freight train is that we probably wouldn't want to live in a static world.   Mother nature has storms and fury and tremendous power  to cause damage and loss of life.  but she also can create great beauty.   Even as a part of the destruction.
Create stillness peace and calm in the aftermath of destruction.
Create the fearful splendor of a volcanic eruption, or the sparkling designs of freezing.
Create the flight of an autumn leaf or the roar of a waterfall. 
Our world is sculpted by glaciers and moulded by rushing water, and great huge sheets of ice.   Added to by volcanoes and subtracted from by erosion, and sometimes the other way round.  And we get to watch.   Hopefully at a safe distance.  I am feeling awfully poetic for someone who is shivering through some unusually cold days.

And so I find myself a few  days before the midpoint of winter, with a still well stocked pantry, and enough wood and coal to last for awhile, entertained by the rainbows that dance around my kitchen when the prism hanging in the windows are struck by the low angled rays of sunlight.   It is really cold, and all I can think of is planting a garden.
The earth is still dormant, at least it would appear, and has not made its transition into it gestational phase apparent here in the frozen woodlands.   the gardener in my heart has other ideas, dreams might be a better word.  The tempting offerings in seed catalogs fuel my dreams, even though I have never had any success with some vegetables, well this could be the year. this could be the year I finally grow bottle gourds, a giant pumpkin, and Brussels sprouts.

But then again, Mother nature always wins.

Friday, January 17, 2014

wassailing the orchard

Be Well
Be whole
Be merry
For January 17th, the old date of Twelfth Night, is the day we wassail the orchard, the orchard where the cider apple trees dwell.
We take water, especially water drinking water as a given, but that has not always been; beer , wine and cider were once the drinks of choice because of often foul or contaminated water supplies.  Cider apple trees were important to the health of the village and waking the trees up to an evening in their honor, well that just might help them produce more apples.  The village drank to the health of the tree, poured libations of cider at it's roots, dipped pieces of toasted bread in cider and fastened them in the forks of the tree. all this while making merry and making noise, including noise makes and gunfire to scare away any evil that may be lurking in the usually quiet orchard.

.Wassail song

I haven’t heard this one before, but the structure and words are familiar from other wassailing songs like the Gloucestershire Wassail.
My trio sings an Apple Tree Wassail which is nothing like this one. The words are:
Old apple tree, we’ll wassail thee,
And hoping thou wilt bear.
The Lord does know where we shall be
To be merry another year.
To blow well and to bear well
And so merry let us be;
Let ev’ry man drink up his cup
And health to the apple tree.
(we found it was a bit to short, so added:
Through wind and snow, around we’ll go
But singing of the spring
Of warming sun, and cooling rain
and the new life they will bring.

The Watersons sing the Apple Tree Wassail

O lily-white lily, o lily-white pin,
Please to come down and let us come in!
Lily-white lily, o lily-white smock,
Please to come down and pull back the lock!
(It's) Our wassail jolly wassail!
Joy come to our jolly wassail!
How well they may bloom, how well they may bear
So we may have apples and cider next year.
O master and mistress, o are you within?
Please to come down and pull back the pin
There was an old farmer and he had an old cow,
But how to milk her he didn't know how.
He put his old cow down in his old barn.
And a little more liquor won't do us no harm.
Harm me boys harm, harm me boys harm,
A little more liquor won't do us no harm.
O the ringles and the jingles and the tenor of the song goes
Merrily merrily merrily.
O the tenor of the song goes merrily.
Hatfulls, capfulls, three-bushel bagfulls,
Little heaps under the stairs.
Hip hip hooray!
The History Behind The Event
Wassail comes from the Old Norse “ves heil” and the Old English “was hál” which means “to be in good health” or “be fortunate.” The phrase evolved from a used for toasts into a ritual in the cider-making regions of southern and western England. Wassailers would gather around an apple tree with pots and pans and other noise makers to scare away evil spirits.
The events are typically timed with the Twelfth Night celebrations.
“This old tradition started when the Molly Dancers (one plow worker dressed in a frock and other dressed in black) would go through the village and dance around and sing songs and make a lot of noise,” said Mount. “People who had apple trees and apple orchards would join in and they would give the Molly Dancers some hot cider or ale or something and dip old bread in cider and hang it on the trees to attract the good spirits of the orchard or good spirits that hang around the village and protect the trees through the winter so that they would have a good crop through the spring.”
Some would also pour the cider around the roots of the trees. In Medieval times, orchard laborers were paid in apple cider. Orchard owners would need a good crop to attract workers

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

january's Owl Moon

Call it the Cold Moon, Embers moon, Moon After Yule, Deep Snows Moon, Strong Cold Moon, Long Nights Moon, The First moon, The Howling spirits Moon, Pine Moon it is a new beginning Moon, the first Full Moon of a year that began on a New Moon.   The Wolf Moon is the name most often used for the Full Moon of January.
 "Broken Silence" by Collin Bogle

The night sky looks like velvet sprinkled with diamonds, and the snow crunches underfoot, and tree limbs clatter and rattle in the breeze,  other than that it is silent, not even a distant train whistle, or rumbling "semi".   I have watched the moon grow fuller, since the New Year, and thought about the promise of change that came with it.  Time has dissolved,  under this silent sky, and what a soaring feeling that is.   I watched. trying to catch a glimpse of the Aurora Borealis through a break in the clouds one night. Each night I wait to hear an owl calling for a mate. 

This full moon will look a bit different, a bit smaller, because the earth is farther away from it.

The crest of the moon’s full phase comes on January 16, 2014 at precisely 4:52 UTC. Although the full moon occurs at the same instant all around the world, our clock reads differently in different time zones. In the United States, the moon turns exactly full on Wednesday, January 15, at 11:52 p.m. EST, 10:52 p.m. CST, 9:52 p.m. MST or 8:52 p.m. PST.

                                              ~~~Earth Sky


Monday, January 13, 2014

porch lantern

There has always been a lantern on the porch, hanging near the door.   Not always the same lantern, weather and clumsiness took a tole on then and evert few years there was a new one usually red, sometimes silver or green, some used lamp oil and a few used candles.
There was always a tin box of wooden matches that had been dipped in paraffin to keep them from getting damp, it worked pretty well.  Coming home to  see that lantern even though it wasn't lit, on a winters day when the sky was low, there was a cold rain, and the sun had set before I got there was reassuring. Soon there would be a fire and a meal and the rest of the world would be far, far away, until morning anyway.

That latern was there in case one had to make the long walk down to the little house out back.  Not that we didn't have indoor plumbing, and not that there wasn't an electrified railroad lantern hanging on both the front and back verandas.  There were times when it was necessary and times when it was an adventure or more like a challenge for us "city kids".   City kid being defined as someone who could see their neighbors house, not especially  so in my case when the leaves were still on the trees.

Once a cousin set fire to the out house, it wasn't really the lantern, it was a dropped cigarette, but it still became a family joke.   No laughing matter however when a cousin who really was from the city, was frightened by something, and hurled the lantern at it setting the smoke house on fire. 

Sitting on the veranda in the evenings listening to the the bob whites  calling down by the stream that ran through the cow pasture, the sputtering lantern and my chair creaking with even the slightest movement, dreaming I would grow old here.  My grandchildren and may-be great grandchildren would come to know the solitude,  and freedom.   

Silent Sunday~~~Hedgehog Picnic

thanks Coleman