Tuesday, January 20, 2009


What a day. First to wake up to snow, something we haven't had in these parts in almost 5 years. Everything white and it was still coming down until about noon, schools were closed and everyone got a day off. I had about 6 things I had to reschedule but I didn't care. It was worth it to see the world white, just another example of how we are at a moment in time where we can wash the slate clean and begin anew.

And the snow made it easy for us to all watch the inauguration of Barack Obama. Once again we got to marvel at this amazing man who is so forthright and honest and apparently clearheaded about the challenges that he, and all of us, face at this time, and he doesn't hold back in his frankness about the severity of the situation or the fact that ALL of us are going to have to work to dig out of the hole we are in at the moment.
We must go from walking blind through the world, like my bird woman here,To accepting the situation and doing whatever we can to correct it.
Everyone I spoke to today was thrilled, energetic, with a renewed sense of hope. Many said they cried, as I have, again and again when I hear Obama speak. So many never believed the day would come when we would elect a black person to be president of the U.S. And I had lost faith that we would ever again elect someone to the office that could re-inspire hope in the people of the nation and in me. I was unsure I would ever have faith, respect and an affinity for and with a president the way that I do with Obama. Amen. May we go forward with strength and courage and good will to the new administration.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Nine Degrees!

Well winter arrived with a vengeance. I know people up north will think I'm silly when I say its been really cold. I know compared to places where the mercury has been below zero for days that 9 degrees could seem like a heatwave, but its cold in this house, despite burning the stove hotter than normal, I can feel it seeping in through the windows and the walls. And it's not going to warm up much for several days.

I'm so glad I do not live in the north. We took a stroll down to the creek this afternoon to check out the ice and there was quite a bit decorating the edges of the creek around the rocks, abstract patterns created by sheets of ice thawing and refreezing. It's a rare sight around here and made everything extra sparkly in the sunlight.

I've been meaning to post these photos of the garden taken on January 3rd. This time last year I had made a big harvest of veggies just before a cold snap. This time I put the blanket over it all and am hoping for the best. I have not peeked under there but I will tomorrow and see how things fared. Monday I harvested tatsoi and kale and last week I actually harvested a bit of lettuce that was protected under the big leaves of the broccoli plants.
For this design, I pounded 2 foot pieces of re-bar into the ground about a foot deep and then slipped PVC pipe over the re-bar to form the arch. The remay is two layers thick and I weight it down with bricks and open it up when its warm, close it at night. I tried clear plastic to see if it would be warm enough for things to actually grow but it got too wet inside and things just started to rot so I scratched that idea and went back to the remay row cover.

The veggies are all tucked in and I hope you are. Keep Warm!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Sky Lust

MOONRISE January 12, 2009

The past few days I've been feeling a powerful desire to be out under the sky. The air is so clear, the stars so brilliant. The weather systems moving through cause dramatic changes in the clouds and light as the days and nights move along. The moon has gone to full and past since Friday.
Saturday evening we lingered what seemed an hour up at the crossroads, chatting with neighbors going back and forth, watching the sky change, the clouds roll in, that amazing thing where the sky has gray clouds hanging low, but the sun as it sets cuts beneath them, lighting up all the tree tops along the eastern horizon, it's a surreal effect.
I missed the full moon rise last night- too cloudy. My brother Jon called to ask if I had seen it and we talked for a good while. He is sounding very content, enjoying winter in his new home. Tonight I thought I would slip up to the corner and watch the just past full moon rise. Luna was coming up golden and lopsided through hazy clouds. Venus* was still shining in the west. I hoped Jonny was watching the same moon wherever he was tonight.
I tried to capture what I was seeing, three dark power lines overhead cut cross ways by a white, disintegrating jet trail that fell slowly across the sky, slipping through Orion. But what I got was the shot above, interesting, but not what I saw with my eyes at all. I lingered there a bit, watching the hazy clouds roll in, covering up the stars and planets, until the moon slowly glided behind a cloud.
* The other day I said I saw Jupiter at dusk but I researched, and Venus is brightest in the evening sky just now. Jupiter is hidden near the horizon during sunset. oops

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Working Outside

I worked at the nursery all day yesterday, an extra day this week as someone is on vacay. Amazing how many people are ordering plants in the middle of winter, for some, in the south and California and Florida, it makes sense. I guess people living in the Midwest do it out of hope that the cold will eventually pass, but we can't ship there until it warms up a little bit.

I'm pondering taking more hours at the Forest as one of the staff will be leaving in late spring, and the more I think about it the more I like the idea. Being able to work outside is really amazing, despite that sometimes its freezing cold and other times blazing hot, I appreciate being in the elements. I like hearing the birds and seeing the sky. I like the kind of people that come to see and buy plants and the gentle people that work with me.

And I love being able to walk to and from. I headed home at dusk last night, glad that I knew my trail and that the moon was rising. Although my feet were sore and my nose was cold, I walked on up the road to get the mail, just wanting to be out under the darkening sky for a few more minutes. The moon was almost full and fighting and winning the battle with huge and amazing Jupiter for brightest light in the sky.

The silhouette of the trees against the sky was fantastic and when I looked down the break of the power cut to the horizon, the sky glowed orange. I am so glad to live in this place. Coming back down the road, the cows were settling in for the night, finding a spot on the freshly strewn hay to slumber in the cold, nostrils steaming.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Winter Woods Walking

My latest column for the Chapel Hill News came out today- I think its worth reading, about winter woods walks. I came across this photo the other day of one of the funny faces I've found in the trunks of beech trees over the years. Seeing the tree trunks is one of the best things about walking in winter, especially through a grove of old beeches.

I hiked the other day at Johnston Mill Nature Preserve. I've always wanted to check it out, a property purchased by the Triangle Land Conservancy some years back. It is a stunning section of woods that surround a winding broad section of New Hope Creek with high bluffs and several smaller streams. Lots of old growth beech, an old mill site to explore, plenty of water flowing now and I imagine it will be a spot for summer water play on hot afternoons. And only 15 minutes from home. If you live in Central NC and are not a member of TLC, you should be. They are working diligently to preserve some of the great natural places in our area and without them, incredibly important lands like Johnston Mill would be filled with houses by now.
It's another rainy day today but the sun keeps trying to come out. The winds are high and another front is coming through so I think the temperature will be dropping as the day wears on. I'm hoping to get in a winter walk at some point today if the weather permits. Ahh, Freedom.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Swimming on a Rainy Day

I'm so glad I like swimming, especially on days like today, 46 degrees and rainy. I just got in from a delightful swim at our brand new Homestead Aquatic Center. It is a fantastic facility with two pools, one cooler for laps and one shallow and warmer for kids to play. Everything is new and clean and you can still smell the fresh paint. At one end is a glass wall with a view out into the trees and there are tall skinny windows along another wall. The roof is angled and rests on 6 foot high, blond wooden beams. I had a lane all to myself and swam for almost an hour, what luxury. Afterwards I lolled around in the warm pool for a bit. I missed the steam room and better showers of the YMCA, but now I'm going to have to make a decision about which place I want to hang my towel in the future, the new pool is a little closer to home, the cooler water is far better for lap swimming and the design and light in the space is very appealing.

I've been meaning to post this photo from Saturday of the first flower opening on my Prunus Mume tree, you gotta love something that blooms in January. And I'm also tickled to see these fat buds on the hellebore, they will open soon and be in bloom right into the middle of spring.
I'm so grateful to have things like this in the garden that bring color to grey winter days.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Finally a Fire!

I've been wanting a fire ever since the solstice, but between being sick, cold rainy weather and high winds; the elements were against me. At last today it was cool but not cold, clear and calm, I vowed to make a fire and enjoy my change of the season, calendar flip, solar shift ritual.

An extra impetus was the tall stack of bank, credit card and retirement statements that I cleaned out of my files. I didn't trust them to the shredder- too much personal information, but their was no reason to hang on to them, it only makes me sad to see how the old retirement accounts have just gone up and down and up and down and of course lately- WAY down, fortunately I've got a few more years to recoup the losses.

I found it cathartic to burn it all up and leave it all behind. I've been having a tough time breaking out of the laziness from a week of sickness followed by the holiday mode of not getting too much accomplished and wondering where the day went- again. Hopefully having completed my fire will allow me to move forward into a more productive space.

This is our outdoor holiday tree, the only one we've had the past two years, it's a beauty. This was shot on the night scenery setting of the camera which is a slow but fun exposure. The best thing about this tree is that it's above the hammock and so I lie in the hammock and swing back and forth looking up into the lollipop colored branches.

This picture was taking while swinging.

Last I had to toast a couple of marshmallows to perfection. My special technique involves the two-pronged fork for holding the puffy pillow stationary. Once one end is toasted I pull it off, turn it around and poke it back on and toast again, then the final touch is a chunk of dark chocolate pushed inside and allowed to melt for a few seconds before popping the whole crunchy brown, sweet, melty thing in my mouth.

AWESOME! And the colors in this fire were pretty amazing as well.

I should sleep well tonight.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

What a glorious New Years Day it's been. I woke up and wrote for over an hour then went to work some at the nursery. The boss is on vacay so I was called in to feed the pigs and open and close the greenhouses against the cold. It was nice to be there all alone and not in a hurry, walking through the greenhouses admiring the camellias in bloom. I'm learning to know my favorites, like Reverend Ida, a small, double flowered, dark purplish red, or Yume, pale pink and white single flowers with short yellow stamens. Where will I find a place for all those that I feel the need to bring home?

The trail that I walk from home to the nursery has been bothering me for months. A maple top and lots of bamboo and some pine trees were all tumbled down blocking the old road and forcing me to follow the deer paths around and about to get where I needed to go. It was the perfect cold, sunny day to get behind the chain saw and get that path tidied up. I feel so strong and accomplished and kind of brave when I run the chain saw by myself. Now, there is a wide open path that I can easily stroll to and from work and even if it's getting dark I'll be able to see my way- hurray.

We went to a super duper New Years Day party with all of our neighbors at the home of Brian and Dale, our newest neighbors. The place is beautiful and the company and food was mighty fine. Now home to fall into bed and wake up on January 2nd, another glorious day yet to unfold.

I love the New Year, everything can start fresh, all things seem possible.