Thursday, January 29, 2009
Monday, January 26, 2009
Grandgirl Maria spent the weekend with us and she and I bundled up and took a walk up to the cabin just to get out a bit. The windchill was shocking. We quickly turned around and headed back to the main house where the fire was burning. "Oh, I can't wait till spring," I said. "And summer!" she added. And then, "It's freezing cold out here!" She had her hands tucked into her pockets and looked like a little pink gnome heading down the path.
So, while it hasn't been a full-fledged funk, a bit of winter "Where am I?" "Who am I?" has settled over me like a fine dust. Here's hoping that you, reader, are making it through your own winter doldrums in the best way you know how.
Monday, January 19, 2009
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
About three weeks ago, I started putting LeRoy into the mudroom at night. Well, to be truthful, I put him in there several times throughout the day. He is full of kitten-powered energy and Clare and I get tired of him. He rarely sits still, hardly ever naps, and mostly prowls around looking for trouble. He jumps Clare and attempts to eat her head. Clare yowls and screams and hisses and then the two of them gallop across the floors and crash into all the stuff that is still laying around. If he isn't pestering Clare he is pawing at my necklaces that hang artfully from the old planter, or he is up on the bathroom sink looking for something to bat around--maybe a bottle of medicine that he can knock under the dresser. You get the idea.
For the past two days when I opened the mudroom door to get more wood for the fire, instead of finding him asleep in his pile of old sweaters on top of the potting bench I've found him crouching by an old box that sits in the corner. Uh oh. Mouse alert.
This morning when I opened the door he was playing with a terrorized and injured mouse. He seemed tentative about biting down hard on the moving mouse, but of course he wasn't letting it go, either. I thought I would take the poor thing outside and let it die quietly behind the woodpile--they say freezing to death is not a bad way to go. When I went to pick it up, however, LeRoy was having none of it. It was his mouse. He became resolute and took a good hold of it with his mouth. I opened the door to the outside and he took it out there.
It was a clear, cold morning with a good covering of snow on the ground. The cold air and the expanse of Outside seemed to trigger a more serious response from LeRoy toward his prey. He trotted off with the mouse and I let him. Of course he didn't go far--he took it around to the side porch onto the scrap of rug in front of the glass doors. And there he proceeded to eat that mouse. I watched for a brief moment, just to be sure that it was really happening, and then I turned away. Jeez, all this before coffee.
Next time I looked there was no mouse. And no blood. Nothing. Except a cute little kitten begging to come inside.
You know how you feel when you watch Nature on PBS and the hawk or the fox hasn't eaten in a week and really needs to catch something, so you root for it while it chases the bunny, but when it catches the bunny you feel terrible about the suffering that ensues? But the predator finally got a meal so you are happy...but the bunny had baby bunnies so you are sad...
Finally you end up sighing with the realization that life is hard here. Existence is a rough game. No getting around it.
LeRoy wasn't starving, but he did what predators do. I guess I was glad that he actually ate the mouse instead of killing it and letting it go to "waste." I don't mind that he keeps the mouse population down, but this spring I hope I don't find bird remains. Someone asked me once if we were going to put up bird feeders near the house. I said No. No we are not. Binoculars work just fine, thank you.
Monday, January 12, 2009
We purchased a kitchen table and chairs at the Antique Mall in Barnesville. Yay! I wanted a pedestal table real bad, and we found one...
John put together my grandma's wardrobe in the bedroom so that I can get to Narnia when I need to.
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
Here is the test. See how many questions you can answer about where you live.
1. Trace the water you drink from precipitation to tap.
2. How many days until the moon is full (plus or minus a couple of days)?
3. Describe the soil around your home.
4. What were the primary subsistence techniques of the culture(s) that lived in your area before you?
5. Name five native edible plants in your bioregion and their season(s) of availability.
6. From what direction do winter storms generally come in your region?
7. Where does your garbage go?
8. How long is the growing season where you live?
9. On what day of the year are the shadows the shortest where you live?
10. Name five trees in your area. Are any of them native? If you can't name names, describe them.
11. Name five resident and any migratory birds in your area.
12. What is the land use history by humans in your bioregion during the past century?
13. What primary geological event/process influenced the land form where you live?
14. What species have become extinct in your area?
15. What are the major plant associations in your region?
16. From where you are while reading this, point north.
17. What spring wildflower is consistently among the first to bloom where you live?
18. What kinds of rocks and minerals are found in your bioregion?
19. Were the stars out last night?
20. Name some beings (nonhuman) which share your place.
21. Do you celebrate the turning of the summer and winter solstice? If so, how do you celebrate?
22. How many people live next door to you? What are their names?
23. How much gasoline do you use a week, on the average?
24. What energy costs you the most money? What kind of energy is it?
25. What developed and potential energy resources are in your area?
26. What plans are there for massive development of energy or mineral resources in your bioregion?
27. What is the largest wilderness area in your bioregion?
We had a terrible ice storm in my bioregion about three years ago. Trees were down, roads were closed and electricity was out for weeks across a large swath of the Midwest. John and I went to the grocery store and I was shocked to see the shelves so sparse, the produce picked over, the refrigerated items absent. I felt, for the first time, how dependant I am on an unseen (by me) network. I have no control over my food and heat and water. I take its easy presence for granted.
I am slowly becoming more aware of the systems that keep me alive and healthy. It isn't always fun or easy to learn about them. We put in a composting toilet in the new house. It is a remote system--the composting bin is in a basement of sorts. We have a composting toilet by the same company in an outhouse that John built up by the cabin and have had no trouble with it. Not so, this new system. It vents through a pipe that goes up through the roof and when the winds are right (or wrong), you can, um, smell it. John, dear man, has gone down to the basement to check on things and all I can say is, thank god, because I'm never gonna do that. We're working out the kinks (I won't go into details) and haven't given up yet on this "green" technology, but there is a part of me that just wants it to go away.
Like I want my garbage to go away. Like I want my food to appear on the shelves. Like I want my water to come through the pipes, clean and ready to drink. Like I want to drive my car wherever I want, whenever I want.
Sometimes I feel like a petulant child, arms crossed, and pouting when I'm asked to confront responsibility for my human presence on the planet. But, you know, the time is here. I'm going to work on answering some of those questions in "Where You At," and I'm not going to let a little bit of crap scare me. It happens, right?
Sunday, January 4, 2009
The farm through their eyes
That's what I'm talking about, people.