Friday, December 28, 2007


My favorite place to be each evening.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


Now we enter winter, dark cold nights, short bright days; we are snug in our home sitting near the woodstove surrounded by books and wonderful things to eat. Time to crack open some of those volumes we have no time to read during the busy outdoor seasons, and begin dreaming of the warmth and life to come.

12.24.07 EXOTIC GIFT

Traditionally, we share a small crate of clementine oranges with each of the neighbors in our hollow. I wonder if it stirs memories of the time when a simple grocery store orange was a treasure to the folks of these mountains.


Its time for folks all over America to gather around a tree, natural or man-made, to celebrate the solstice and the various religious events associated with it. I, also, cannot resist the urge to bring a bit of natural fragrant green into our living room to provide a focus for our celebrations. Fortunately, there are thick patches of white pine seedlings, Pinus strobus, growing on the hillside behind our house. I trek out in the cold pouring rain to thin a volunteer from one of these patches. It looks good growing in the house across from the wood stove. I love its soft needles, its open branches for dangling decorations, and its fresh aroma.

Saturday, December 22, 2007


This morning the sunrise ended its journey south along the mountain ridge across the road. Tomorrow it will begin its trek northward, rising earlier each day bringing more light to each day. Plenty of reason for celebration! (Unfortunately it was quite cloudy this morning, so this photo from several days ago approximates the location of today's sunrise.)


It is just about time to begin our midwinter celebrations and the giant blossoms of the amaryllis anticipate our joy.


Driving home one night this week my headlights picked out a big "black cat" waddling down the gravel road. As the truck slowly rolled closer, I identified the critter as a spotted skunk, Spilogale putorius, the first one I have ever seen. This nice photo was taken by and is copyright Roger Barbour. Found on GoogleImage, it looks most like the fellow I saw.

Monday, December 17, 2007

12.16.07 ROUND TWO

I find the oak leaf hydrangeas planted around homes in town are just as beautiful now as they are in their summer glory (6.03.07). And later in the winter when the storms have blown and we may be left with just bare branches I can find plenty of visual interest in their fascinating exfoliating bark.

Friday, December 14, 2007


The garden slips steadily into sleep but leaves, here and there, jewels in the light.

Monday, December 10, 2007


The spring oats I planted as a cover crop on November 19 have sprouted! What joy they bring even as the rest of the garden settles down to a winter nap. I am hoping the oats will grow off and on during the occasional warm days of winter to provide protection to this bare garden bed and to create some "biomass" or green manure to improve my soil’s tilth.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

12.05.07 FIRST SNOW

Early this morning the first snow storm of winter rolled in, decorating a neighboor's hunting cabin for the holidays and stealing all of the color from this color photo.


The field mice have begun migrating inside for the winter. I work hard to keep food secure, but when I set down Zippy's dog bowl all I can do is put a trap nearby. This morning we had an uncautious visitor.

Monday, December 3, 2007


In the early twentieth century the Episcopal Church began to missionize the mountain people of my neighborhood. As part of that project, a small health center, St. Anne's Preventorium, was built at the top of the hill near our home. The Episcopal Church has moved down the road to a 1960s era building, but this tower of hope remains. A stone monument easily seen now that the leaves have disappeared and we are left with just tracings of brown and gray against the deep blue sky.

Saturday, December 1, 2007


The trees have finished their grand show. All the bright colors have been blown to the ground where they lose their color and take on a new role as insulation providing a natural mulch which protects the living crowns of forest plants over the winter. My Mennonite neighbors tidy up all the leaves and burn them in great piles along the road. I prefer to let the wind spend these prestorm days packing all of the leaves tightly under our bushes so we can take adavantage of this free mulch.