skipping seasons

Well it’s happened again. Winter ends abruptly in summer. We never really had a winter here, this year. Four, maybe five days with early morning frost. No ice or snow when generally we see a couple of flurries. But what happened to spring?

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A couple of mornings started out with a chill only to melt it off in a few short hours. The petunias I planted were perky with bright, full blooms. By afternoon the heat wilt had melted them into a vegetative heap. The cultivated spring flowers have burst through the soil and daffodils (they are first) stand cheerfully announcing tulip’s arrival. Before they are gone the azaleas bloom. Tree leaves are just now budding, the mighty oak leaves are tender, tiny and baby soft and seem so vulnerable for such a formidable tree.

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I think I enjoy the wildflowers most. This comes up each year at a nearby park and it colonizes. This plant was on its own but next year will likely be a family. I have collected a seed pod or two but it does not grow for me.

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There is another park where pathways are well-defined in winter months, and rescue dogs Lily and Lulu love pioneering through the trails. In summer the undergrowth and smaller trees make the paths undefinable so we stick to the paved walkway. Also we miss out on surprising an occasional snake which works for me.

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Yesterday we sat on the riverbank before the day was too hot and were treated to this sailboat venturing out to sea. I often wonder where people go.

So we still enjoy watching trees wake up and giving cool shade. Anoles are thawing and can move faster than Lily and Lulu already. The carpenter bees (bumble bees when I was little) are busy in what flowers we have and finding some wood to lay their eggs. I have seen butterflies emerge from cocoons, even baby earthworms warming up, but I never saw a carpenter bee hatch.

5EE0C213-CBBC-4888-B9DE-53B8EED77293Robert Louis Stevenson, “XXIV Happy Thoughts” from A Child’s Garden of Verses

 

aMusings

I began this blog around 6 or 7 years ago. Back then I idyllically imagined I would use this as a platform for epiphany, revelation or eloquent personal disclosure. Funny maybe, having some depth, but hoping to not become a forum for aging, malady or complaining (whining).

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Maybe leave a trail of insight or hope, or just encouraging words.

There are bumps in everybody’s road. Forks on the pathways. Brick walls. Cliffs. Mountains. Brambles. Woods. Wild animals. Hurdles. Chasms. Insurmountables and unfathomables.

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And then there’s root canals.

I have never liked dental appointments. So moving to a new place too far from a dentist I had come to trust I had to start over again. For someone with serious trust issues in general it isn’t easy. They tell me what needs work. I make an appointment and soon after I cancel it. I am an adult, this is silly.

So when the dentist said he had to send me to an endodontist my brain shut down. I made the appointment and did not cancel it. I went to the appointment. Exactly one hour later, the lower left half of my face in paralysis  they had finished. The most painful part was paying for it.

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The day after an arctic freeze arrived after torrential rains. Thankful rescue dogs Lily and Lulu woke me early to go out or I’d have missed the 5 minutes of snow flurries. The rest of the day was icy cold with brutally cutting winds making walkies a near impossibility.

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But beyond conquering dental fears, bitter cold, I think the hardest thing I faced this week was a cryptic phone call from my son. I have mentioned in posts that his girlfriend does not care for me (it’s the only conclusion I came to based on monosyllabic responses, or no response at all). This incrementally alters the relationship with my son each time I encounter them. They have been together about 10 years, living together for 7. I realize it is expected that children grow up, leave home and begin lives of their own. This exclusion though was hard to accept at first. It does not get easier, but I get better at dealing with it. I cannot say whether this arrangement he lives with is right or wrong, but I am sorry I am not a part of it. To say it’s worse than having a root canal, well, it’s an analogy I did not think I’d ever make.

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winter sleep

It makes sense, the days are shorter, it’s colder (in most places), plants go dormant. So there’s more inclination to sleep, or to want to sleep.

Not for me this week. Hurricane Florence took out a couple of fence panels that I had to replace. The installer guys said the wood had to cure for 6-8 weeks before I could paint so I did that this week. I forgot how long it takes to paint a fence!

I thought I’d get a jump on Christmas card and package mailing. Everybody had the same idea. Probably a good idea to avoid the post office from Thanksgiving till New Year’s.

An email this week had one of the coolest (no pun meant) pictures I have ever seen. There are many places I want to see before I can either no longer get around or see in general. I have been to some, the Grand Canyon was the top of the list, and another isn’t really a place so much as a thing. I would love to see auroras. So this picture is a phoenix aurora–

unnamed.jpg The picture was taken someplace over Norway recently, the photographer is Adrien Mauduit. Auroras are ephemeral, they shimmer and move with beauty. If you visit this photographer’s twitter page there are nothing but auroras, some in motion.

So though plants and most of nature sleeps, geomagnetic storms (coronal mass emissions from our sun) do not. And every summer throws its tantrums in the form of thunderstorms, hurricanes, tornadoes, and all seasons have something to keep us awake. Right now it’s a winter storm making its way across the midwest to the NC mountains. At least I sure hope it stops there.

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When I took rescue dogs Lily and Lulu to their favorite walking park today, a nature preserve about 15 miles north, I noticed the overpasses and bridges have all been salted but not the roads. Which usually means not much in the way of icy is expected.

I hope this is true. Anyway, staying home sounds like a good idea this weekend.

He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.” Psalm 121

Wind

Fall is pretty short-lived over here. Summer malingers squeezing the last bit of humidity into our lungs, then a brief spell of cool, drier days and pretty leaves.

The wind blew all night last night, and is still blowing. It’s warmer, spatterings of rain showers. So this signals the beginning of what we know as winter here in coastal NC. Not too cold, not very long, snowfalls that don’t stick around for more than a few hours, if that.

I love the wind. Whatever it blows in, or blows out. Maybe because my grandmother loved it. She would recite a poem by Christina Rosetti,

“Who has seen the wind?
Neither I nor you:
But when the leaves hang trembling,
The wind is passing through.
“Who has seen the wind?
Neither you nor I:
But when the trees bow down their heads,
The wind is passing by.”
Here where I live we basically have 2 kinds of pine trees, longleaf and loblolly pines. You can tell the difference because the longleaf have 3 needles to each “bundle”, loblolly has usually 2. And longleaf cones are very large. Most pine cones are about 3 or 4 inches long, maybe (except pinions which are really small, or hemlock which are even smaller).
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longleaf cone, about 9 inches tall
My mom used to love these pinecones piled in a basket on the hearth at Christmas. Now you can buy them soaked in cinnamon oil which is lovely and fragrant, if you happen to love the smell of cinammon.
Birds have a harder time foraging in the winter so I will load up the pine cone leaves with peanut butter and roll it in birdseed. The birds really love this (so do squirrels, possums and raccoons so if you try this hang it from the branch of a tree or the bird feeder, preferably with a baffle). One winter when my brother and I were little our mom thought it would be fun to do this project only she used suet (beef fat). And it was fun, except we only did this that one year because our mom had a thing about touching raw meat or meat products of any kind and she could not get us to do much of the assembling of these cones.
It’s kind of amazing to look at these cones. When they are young and green, still in the tree they are closed up tight. Their seeds form above each leaf so when the cone ages the leaves will open and eventually drop the seeds. Squirrels, being the impatient creatures they are, won’t wait and will chew off the leaves to get to the seeds, leaving the skinny “cob” of the cone. If you look at the cone when it has opened you can see the spiral pattern of the leaves swirling up toward the top. Amazing to me what the Great Designer did when He decided to create the plants and trees, each of which has a property that can help heal in some way.
3When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
4what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?”
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Rosetti: The Golden Book of Poetry, 1947; Psalm 8:3,4

Winter vegetables

We have a lot of luxuries in the South, you know? Long, lazy evenings for nearly 8 months out of the year. We have lightning bugs (nobody but us calls them this, everywhere else they are fireflies), cicadas, locust-like grasshoppers and, oh yes, crickets. We can hear the crickets most all the year especially when they get in the house and keep us up all night in their lonely chirping for their long lost… well, whatever it is that crickets lose. Some say they are good luck. Some people swear you can tell the temperature on a cold night by the number of chirps in a minute. I forget but you can google (or bing) it.

But I digress.

The luxury I indulge in during those short, cold winter days is my winter garden. I just put mine out. Swiss chard, kale, spinach, collards, chives and some parsley. The real luxury? Weeds are mostly dormant. Not so many bugs. The tender plants have a much better chance of survival, especially if you spray “Critter Ridder(r)” on them which is just a glorified pepper spray. Cayenne & black pepper. No self-respecting rabbit or deer would dare eat anything with all that mess on it. So I am hoping for an abundant harvest.

Did you know that you can drizzle olive oil over kale leaves, pop them on a cookie sheet in a hot oven and make kale chips? I will have to try this.

Maybe next year I will put out some winter squash, if I am feeling ambitious.