Sunday, December 23, 2012

Our latest visitor

The wildlife around here continues to entertain us.  Our latest visitor was this Great Blue Heron.
I went outside to get firewood when all of a sudden the chickens and turkeys started running around making lots of strange noises.  I looked up to see if a hawk was nearby and saw the heron flying over the house and then landing next to the stream.  He/She walked up the stream for a couple of minutes then flew away.  I love to watch Great Blue Herons fly; they look so prehistoric. 
We have not seen any fish in our stream, it's too shallow and fast moving I think.  But we have seen frogs, so maybe that is what the heron was searching for.
After the heron flew away we noticed that we couldn't see any chickens in their yard, except for our rooster.  Apparently the rooster's noises made all the chickens hide under and in the chicken house.  Way to go Cassius!
When my daughter uploaded the pictures of the heron onto my laptop she found the pictures she took of our one, very brief, snow fall. I was at work that day and asked her to take lots of pictures since the weather report made it likely that the snow would be melted by the time I would be home and it would be daylight.
So here are a few:

The weather forecast is calling for 1-3 inches starting Christmas Eve so hopefully we will have a white Christmas!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Around here

Around here life is moving along.  Our youngest daughter is now home for winter break.  But the week before finals we got to see a great concert by the Collegium Musicum.  Max has discovered a love of Renaissance music. And any concert with a Viola da Gamba playing has to be great.
Yesterday morning when I went out to feed a hawk flew up in front of me as I rounded the corner to the garage.  A pile of feathers led to the body of one of our Mottled Java hens.  The hawk looked like it could have been the same one who attacked a hen earlier. I guess as long as the hens are running around outside the pen they are at risk, or they are just keeping the hawk from going after the hens in the pen.
One of our hens is molting and is pretty pathetic looking.  She looks cold and could probably use a jacket, but how does one put a jacket on a chicken?
Christmas preparations are ongoing.  Shopping is nearly done and we bought our tree yesterday,  For years we have bought a tree from our neighbors' nursery down the road from the old house.  We could literally walk five minutes down the road, cut down our tree and walk it home (or use a cart depending on how big of a tree we felt like dealing with that year) in about half an hour.  And the trees have been $15 for at least the last 15 years.  We figured this would probably be the last year we would get a tree there so we picked one up on the way home. When we got it home, Alan set it in the garage while we get everything ready inside for the tree.
Even the outhouse has a touch a Christmas spirit.
It is supposed to be a rainy day here, but not yet.  So we finally got the last of the leaves raked up.  There always have to be a few trees that want to hold onto their leaves well beyond any reasonable length of time.  While raking out the vinca I found a lovely little surprise on this December day.

Still waiting to see my first snow at the new house; hopefully this month.  We also have what looks to be a great sledding hill.  Maybe while the girls are on winter break we can go sledding.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

I couldn't have said it better

Sometime you read something that so speaks to where you are in your life experiences that you are amazed that someone else could put into words exactly what you are feeling. I had just such an experience while reading "This Organic Life".  The book chronicles Joan Gussow's move from her old, huge Victorian home of many decades to a smaller home on the banks of the Hudson River. Their "new" house ends up needing to be demolished and a new house built on the site, but it is the site that has drawn Joan and her husband to the location any way.

"September 27- Terrible, rainy day. No work on the house, obviously. But having just come back from Piermont, I need to reflect on the astonishing change of mood that place created. Nothing more has been done. The rain prevented work today, and prevented us from being out in the garden. But the place (was it the changing weather? There was a stiff wind off the water, and the sky kept changing, going silver and gray) just made me elated. When we got back to the car, we drove out the pier to look at the wild weather and I realized my mood was totally changed.  I have been depressed for days-partly the weather, I think, but its not only that. I simply love it in Piermont. I feel so wonderful when I'm there. It's just elating to be where you can connet so intimately with the weather every day. In this big house, we know if its raining or gloomy, and sometimes at night, when I get up to pee, I can see the moon so I know whether or not its full.  But there, you are aware of every nuance, every changing cloud, you feel the weather all the time, and its wonderful, sometimes even frightening as it almost was today with the wind driving heavy waves against the peir. We are going to live there, and I'm going to love it.

Earlier in the summer, a friend who was studying landscape suggested an explanation for the deep affinity I feel for this spot.  She had encountered in the writing of a scholar Jay Appleton the idea that two qualities in the landscape were particularly reassuring to relatively helpless mammals such as humans: refuge and prospect. Refuge for hiding out, and prospect for watching out- for enemies and food. Congers (her old house) had no prospect. We never sat out on our lawn, only on the porch, and then only "in season." I had enclosed the porch view- with a grapevine and evergreens close to the house and with shrubs around the property- to protect us from the corner traffic.  But Piermont offered us both refuge (note our reluctance to lose the shelter of the old house) and prospect of the river from the terrace and from the boardwalk.  It was not merely foolhardiness, but mammalian longing that made us buy a house we had to demolish."

I could not have written my feelings about both the old house and the new any better.  People keep asking how we could leave our old house after all the work and time we spent there.  Now I just have to give them these two paragraphs to read.

And Joan's garden has been plagued with flooding.  Here are a few pictures of her garden before and after the flooding of 2010.  And her little town of Piermont was devastated after Hurricane Sandy.  I hope she will be able to rebuild her garden again. 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Making lemonade from lemons (or lumber from a walnut tree)

We have slowly been dealing with all the trees that fell thanks to Hurricane Sandy, both at the new house and the old house.  We have literally tons of fire wood in ash, walnut, oak and a little cherry.  The largest tree that fell at the new house was a huge walnut tree.  The diameter was so large that just cutting rounds would be difficult, let alone splitting it.  Alan's brother knows a man with a sawmill and he has come to take away the walnut and it will be milled into useable lumber. Its great to have something constructive come out of all that devastation.
Alan just came inside with good news.  The walnut taken away was worth three 16 foot beams to build a bridge across our stream and $70.  And it is gone!