Monday, April 22, 2013

Can't trust that day.

More snow today, and its weight is about ready to crush my poor old lilac.  I'm gonna have to tell you, every time it snows there's some little part of me that feels like a little kid again, but right now that kid is about ready to wreak bloody havoc on your entire existence and everyone else's.  So, you know, just consider yourself warned.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Not Another Sunday.

A light rain has just begun to fall, and I've just returned home from a walk to the co-op.  It's an easy two-plus miles, round-trip, even carrying 5-10 pounds of goods (in a Gathering Bag, such a perfect thing).  A pleasant stroll, most days, it was more of a peaceful surprise today, beginning with a close encounter with a sharp-shinned hawk that came swooping at and past me, not more than a few meters away from my hooded head.  (Last weekend this same small neighbor flew by just few feet from my kitchen window, as I looked out from the table.)  There's an unexpected breath of Spring in the air today, some faint warmth in the wind, a more than welcome change from the persistent grey chill of the past several weeks, and even from the bright sunshine of yesterday (that demon day!).  The sun nearly glowed its way through the clouds more than once this afternoon, while the sound of rushing meltwater from the recent snowstorm filled the streets, cascading from gutters, trickling through cracks.  I stepped lightly over puddles, glad to have my legs under me. 

For the past few weeks, while the weather here has gone from almost intolerable with a few rays of hope, to unbelievably shitty with a chance of insanity--I kid not. Every single person I know has reached impasse with this April Fool--I've at the same time had to accommodate a newly pinched nerve, apparently caused by a herniated disc in my C7 areaAlong with it, I've come down with a nasty case of tennis elbow (how can something that sounds so sporting hurt so much?), and a whole bunch of related crappy crap which has been tremendously debilitating and discouraging.  Like sunshine, even a modest amount of pain can make the difference between growth or dormancy, thriving or strugglingI had been looking forward to an April and May of hard work and transformation, but I did not expect it to include a long, slow recovery from a painful disc injury.  It's been an excruciating, challenging month, on all kinds of levelsToday was a welcome respite from that.

Yesterday I felt like a stranger in a strange town.  Today, the unfamiliar seemed friendly, and small beauties revealed themselves at each turn of my head: a few choice words of inspiration hand-painted on a bumper; raindrops as tiny as ideas lightly kissing my freckled cheeks; a pair of goldfinches picking their way through the remains of last year's lemon balm, reminding me again why I (must) choose to grow, and to leave things be.  I might have cut away all those dry stems last Fall, to tidy things up; instead, this afternoon I watched two mates feed there together for quite some time, before flitting off to their next rest. Likewise, the Brussells sprouts stalks--which (after painstakingly ripping each little sprout free from the main stem), I left standing like the belles of the ball with their perfectly coiffed little heads resting atop tiers of ruffled leaves, imagining they would be so pretty to see, all dressed up in white for old man Winter--turned out to be a fine mid-winter treat for the rabbits, who nibbled them naked... Not that I'm aiming to attract bunnies into the garden, but I still take some pleasure, and pride, in knowing that other creatures find nourishment in my small yard.  It's nice to see.

I walked up to the street-side of my house, upon my return this afternoon.  Most of the new snow has melted already, but none of the native plants on the boulevard are showing themselves just yet.  Closer to the house, there are hyacinths, allium, crocuses, windflowers, tulips and peonies, now, all poking their sexy little blushing green selves up through a wet mat of leaves.  The peach and plum trees are almost ready to bud, the former a bit plumper than the latter.  Back behind the fence, chives are up, a few strawberries have put out new leaves, lilies just keep on coming, comfrey lies in wait, and most recently, the squill has emerged, and is about ready to pop open.  No signs of asparagus crowning just yet--it needs a bit more warmth--but it won't be long now.

Also, late last week, I received word from back home of the maple sap harvest:
I guess we picked the right time to try collecting maple sap this year. We started with six taps near the house for about a week, and then pulled one when the sap started to yellow, indicating is was "old", and left the remaining five for about another week. At the end of collecting, last Sunday we had at least 57 gallons of sap -- maybe a little more.

We had bought a two-burner, cast iron propane cookstove, and a 20" x 12" x 6" steam table pan from a restaurant supply place, which we set up just outside the garage last Saturday, and started cooking. We used our stock pots in the kitchen to bring all of it up to simmering and reduce it by about a fourth, adding it in increments to the steam table pan -- a process which took till late into the night on Monday -- at which point we had a little over 4 gallons.

Wednesday we started cooking this beautiful amber liquid on the stove in the big steam table pan, and this morning (we had to start and stop for errands and other tasks) we finished it off and poured it into canning jars with a total now in storage of nearly 2 gallons, some of which is set aside to share with all of you.

Now we're back to a heavy snow storm, so I guess we lucked out and hit the timing just right. We learned a lot. And, with Dad's plan to build a wood fired evaporator out of the old wood stove behind the pole barn, we're thinking we can do and even better job next year -- depending, of course, on what the weather allows.
So it would seem that Spring has arrived, at long last, and not a moment too soon.  Thank goodness.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


rotated my tires today, and while that was going on
I walked around until I found a park, a bench of stone
so slightly and perfectly concave...
above me the branches of jack pines curled into
another language, ending in little outbursts,
indifferent to the crescent moon, my line of sight.
I lowered my shades and closed my eyes,
listened for a while to the children's voices,
bikes on gravel, a bounce on the grass,
electronic turkey in the straw...
now nearer, then further away.

the moon's not wasting any time today.

he gave me the light for nothing, so I replaced it,
found myself a new pair of sunglasses
and turned out behind a plate that read EYES 1.
now things are darker but rosier,
and my wagon's pulling right. 


And Also With You

I took all that shit back to IKEA, and gazed upon the faces of the people there, glassy-eyed, pushing their carts full of newly manufactured trash as if it were so much treasure.  No longer drawn by the mystery of what lies buried below, we modern humans would rather spend a pretty hard-earned penny on our own demise and pluck a piece of plastic from off the shelf, than roll up our cuffs and go digging into the organic, squirming realities of our own subconscious or--God forbid!--the living, physical world which we inhabit, and which inhabits us.  Have so many of us now forgotten--if we ever knew--our own animal nature?  Ah, but therein lies the crux, the very crucifix of the matter.  For, my very dearest of friends, there are a whole Hell of a Lot of People in this astoundingly beautiful world who simply refuse to accept that they are composed of, and created from, the very same matter as all the rest of the amniotes, not to mention the snakes and apples and such.  And unto them I say: fuck you.

If that sounds less than compassionate, at this late hour, rest assured that the crudeness of my expression has very little to do with waking up on the couch not in my pajamas, or being abruptly ripped apart from a deeply telling dream, or having to call for a jump start this morning, or the cancellation of today's lesson, or submitting my tax return at the eleventh hour, or wrapping up my last work meeting of the day at a quarter until midnight, because in fact, all of those things turned out to be pretty okay if not quite all right, except for the dream perhaps, which I would very much enjoy getting back to right about now.  But before I do I'd like to say this:

It strikes me that "I am, therefore I think", and not its inverse, might have had a profoundly different impact on humanity and on life on this planet, in the long run... although I suppose one could argue that my saying so is nothing if not another unwittingly fine display of my all-encompassing ignorance of the meaning of things, my lack of respect for a learned man's most profound thoughts, and my arrogant disregard of all things European and, in particular, French.  I most certainly don't play at being the Devil's Advocate, nor would I turn a cold shoulder from even the smelliest of earthly creatures, with their wriggling, dirty ways, in a time of need.  But I, like so many among us, do not love all things equally.  And Dominion is not a four-letter word.  

I would ask those who would hold the Almighty Human brain in such high regard, as though our unique "capacity" for thought is sure-shot evidence of our Divine Right, just exactly what of the Divine do you believe shall be Left, once such able minds have had their way with it?  Cast your net out upon the Sea of (The) Concrete, and enjoy all that grey matter while you can.  The Idea of IKEA leaves quite a lot be desired, as does its reality...and thus, I am led down another meandering path to wonder about the idea of a flower, for all its intents and purposes, leaving almost everything to the Imagination... 

If to exist were testament to consciousness, well then...we'd be living in another world, entirely.  

And with that, I bid you goodnight.

Monday, April 1, 2013

“Though the problems of the world are increasingly complex, the solutions remain embarrassingly simple.” ― Bill Mollison