Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Fire Wood Hauling Workout

The fire season has been the most intense I remember in a while.  The cold weather has made us go through our wood stash fast.  Today I was gathering kindling again, this time of year we need more as we often let the fire die down during the day.  The temps are warmer, and we are low on wood, no point wasting it.  If we stoke the stove first thing in the morning and then bank the coals and ash against the side mid to late morning, there will be coals in the evening when we want to fire it up again.  But that doesn’t always happen, so more kindling is needed to restart the fire at the end of the day.

Wood hauling has declined this week.  Instead of a cartload or two pulled from the far side of the yard to the near side of the yard where a large wood rack sits under the deck and a smaller one up top, this time of year, it’s a wheelbarrow load or two.  When we are filling both racks in December and January, we work together loading, hauling, stacking.  To get the wood up the ten steps to the deck we use a large burnt orange nylon bag with stout handles that we can fill with 12 or 13 logs and each grab a handle and climb the stairs together to load the rack up top.  We switch sides midway to keep from over working one arm.  

Now I carry the wood up in my arms by myself, I see the extra trips up the steps with smaller loads as a part of my wood hauling workout; lifting, reaching, toting and moving all those logs.  After that activity I think to myself, time to start upping the abdominal work to protect my back from the digging, bending and hauling that will be coming up as we begin to prepare and plant the vegetable garden and clean out the flower beds.

By mid- spring the wheelbarrow will sit at the bottom of the stairs and we'll just run down and get an armful as needed.  When there are days and nights with no fire we'll reach a point of running across the yard with the big orange bag and just grabbing enough for bedtime and coffee time on the last cold nights.  Soon enough there will be no fire at all.  

The promise of spring is in the air, the days are warming, yet after dark it’s still clear and chilly.    At the moment, the moon is bright.  I’ve been watching it as it rises, before the sun has set, about ¾’s full and so brilliant, even in the blue sky.  By Friday it will be full and shining in the bedroom window in the wee hours, pulling on our lunatic instincts, keeping us from a deep sleep as we roll and toss thinking of the projects and chores before us as our sap begins to rise.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Spring is around the corner

MIA once again- it's been a very busy few weeks since my return from the coast.  Work is picking up steam with spring fast approaching so I've been busy with preparations for the fourth season of the Growing Healthy Kids garden project.  We have our first big organizational and planning meeting this afternoon with about 25 returning families and a few new folks, it will be a room filled with kids, parents and hopefully lots of energy to plan our upcoming workshops and workdays.

Last weekend I had the good fortune to attend a Growing Communities workshop in Charlottesville, Virginia sponsored by the American Community Gardening Association.  An action packed 2 days learning tools and techniques for organizing communities around the development of community gardens.  A fantastic group of diverse folks were there, many from Charlottesville but also California, New York and New Jersey!  I got a ton of great ideas for doing more leadership development with our garden families as well as ideas for spearheading more community garden work overall in the Chapel Hill area, it was inspiring.

I stopped into Roanoke to visit my friend Carol on the way home and we had a big time dining at a place called Local Roots, specializing- you guessed it- in local ingredients.  I enjoyed a slice of head cheese topped with a sunny side up egg as an appetizer and brook trout with parsnips, potatoes, kale and bacon for my entree, oooh yummm.  Sunday morning was cool and clear and we walked for about three hours around the Roankoke reservoir, birdwatching and sharing each others company.  Pileated and red headed woodpeckers were our companions as we wandered through the hardwood forest. 
I wound my way home starting with a section of the Blue Ridge Parkway, the views were spectacular and it was a slow journey as I kept stopping to take in the view. 

On the tail end of winter this is a recent scene from the dining table.  We've been making lots of slaw and raw veggie type salads, this version had grated raw beets and carrots, green cabbage and fennel, dressed with olive oil and lemon juice; crunchy, colorful and tasty.  We served the salad along side a taco of sweet potatoes and zucchini sauteed with onions, chile powder and cumin, topped with sour cream.  The stack includes a seed catalog, mushroom catalog, and a book I found at the library on cooking with winter vegetables.  I think I read 8 slaw recipes alone!  It's got loads of good ideas for using roots.

This week is promising to bring some very spring like weather at last.  Warm and sunny days are in the forecast so I'm hoping to get into my own garden for a few hours.  It's time to prepare beds for the 180  onion plants and 5 dozen leek plants I am expecting delivery on next week and also it is pea planting time! 

The sun is currently shining so I am going to close this post and head out into the day to enjoy a bit of it before the big meeting this afternoon.