Thursday, November 26, 2015

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Thanksgiving blessings to all

The year has turned its circle,
the seasons come and go.
The harvest all is gathered in
and chilly north winds blow.
Orchards have shared their treasures,
the fields their yellow grain,
so open wide the doorway...
Thanksgiving comes again!

The wider the central brown band on a woolly bear 
caterpillar is, the milder the winter shall be.

When the trees their summer splendor
Change to raiment red and gold,
When the summer moon turns mellow,
And the nights are getting cold; 
When the squirrels hide their acorns, 
And the woodchucks disappear; 
Then we know that it is autumn, 
Loveliest season of the year.
Carol L. Riser 

the winter will be mild if the first
snow falls on unfrozen ground

My Sorrow, when she's here with me,
thinks these dark days of autumn rain
are beautiful as days can be;
She loves the bare, the withered tree.
She walks the sodden pasture lane.
Her pleasure will not let me stay. 

The beauties she so wryly sees,
she thinks I have no eye for these
the love of bare November days
but it were vain to tell her so,
before the coming of the snow,
and they are better for her praise.

She talks and I am fain to list.
She's glad the birds are gone away,
she's glad her simple worsted grady
is silver now with clinging mist.

The desolate, deserted trees,
the faded earth, the heavy sky,
the beauties she so wryly sees,
she thinks I have no eye for these
and vexes me for reason why.
Robert Frost

Expect a harsh winter if: 
onion and apple skins and cornhusks are thick and tough
wasp nests are high up in trees 
squirrel nests are big 
rabbits are fat in October and November 
geese migrate earlier 
squirrel tails are very bushy 
nuts and berries are plentiful
pigs gather lots of leaves and straw

How well I know what I mean to do
When the long dark autumn-evenings come:
And where, my soul, is thy pleasant hue?
With the music of all thy voices, dumb In life's November too!
I shall be found by the fire, suppose,
O'er a great wise book as beseemeth age,
While the shutters flap as the cross-wind blows
And I turn the page, and I turn the page,
Not verse now, only prose!
Robert Browning

Give me the end of the year an' its fun 
when most of the plannin' an' toilin' is done,
bring all the wanderers home to the nest,
let me sit down with the ones I love best.
Hear the old voices still ringin' with song,
see the old faces unblemished by wrong,
see the old table with all of its chairs
an' I'll put soul in my Thanksgivin' prayers.
Edgar Guest

A tingling, misty marvel blew hither in the night, 
and now the little peach-trees are clasped in frozen light. 
Upon the apple-branches an icy film is caught, 
with trailing threads of gossamer in pearly patterns wrought. 
The autumn sun, in wonder, is gayly peering through 
this silver-tissued network across the frosty blue. 
The weather-vane is fire-tipped, the honeysuckle shows 
a dazzling icy splendor, and crystal is the rose. 
Evaleen Stein 

Come, my boys, come
Your hay it is mow'd, and your corn is reap'd, 
Your barns will be full, and your hovels heap'd. 
Come, my boys, come 
John Dryden 

A feel of warmth in this place. 
In winter air, a scent of harvest. 
No form of prayer is needed, 
When by sudden grace attended. 
Naturally, we fall from grace. 
Mere humans, we forget what light 
Led us, lonely, to this place. 
John Montague 

Over the river, and through the wood Oh, how the wind doth blow!
It stings the toes and bites the nose as over the ground we go
.Lydia Maria Child 

Saturday, November 7, 2015

(My middle son bravely scaled the windmill with camera in hand to take these photographs while I kept my feet firmly attached to the ground)

 The mountains of Vermont, far off in the distance. 

 A bird's-eye view of the garden. I am so very grateful to my mom for all the help she's given me with weeding, mulching and composting over the past few weeks. It is a huge relief to head into winter knowing that the garden has been put to bed before the snow falls. (We are still working on mulching all the fallen leaves, but hope to be done this week)

Sunday, November 1, 2015

   November arrives, along with some rain. Though at first glance it appears damp and dreary out my window, the vibrant red and yellow leaves of oak and beech catch the eyes, and from there, they focus on the bleached amber of the new mown field. Brilliant color still remains along the woodline, appearing brighter on account of the dark black and umber skeletons of wet trees.
    Most of the gardens have been cut back and weeded, seeds have been saved for spring planting, the harvest has been stored. Seed and trees have been ordered for spring planting. Firewood and kindling are in and under cover. Extra bedding awaits to bank up the barn critters against the inevitable below-freezing temperatures that lurk just around the corner. I've stocked up on suet, birdseed, peanuts and grain. Yet there is still much to be done before the finality of snowfall puts to rest this season's work.
    There is still cutting back to do, and mulching, and leaves need composting and spreading on the gardens. There are still apples needing to be picked, and cider to be made. I noticed the other morning that the chickens have scratched up two grapevines I had put in a month or so ago, so that needs tending to. I still need to make about a dozen-and-a -half wire cages to wrap around the trunks of some young apple trees. (Last winter, the mice and rabbits wreaked havoc on a half-dozen fruit trees and several lilac bushes) The garden paths need to be mulched, as well. .
    The call of migrating geese, the scolding chatter of squirrels, crows and bluejays venturing closer to the house (and the birdfeeders), the deer and wild turkeys lingering longer in the fields, the lacy frost on the lawn and rooftops, all are signs of the slowing -down of things, a signal of drawing homeward, for coming back inside after months of being out about the gardens. The shortning of daylight hours will see to that! For me, it is a bittersweet time, yet I anticipate the lull of winter and the beauty of impending snowfall. There are piles of books waiting to be read, and projects I've neglected indoors now needing my attention. I have a bunch of furniture refinishing I am longing to start, and my pine floors need re-oiling too. And I can finally make that raspberry jalapeno jam I've been meaning to get to. (it is far too hot and humid to make jam when the raspberries are ripening; I've learned to pick and immediately freeze them, and wait for a cold winter day to can)
   And so, we are reminded yet again of nature's way and time with the march of seasons moving ever forward. May this season bring you blessings, and may you find time to accomplish what you can, yet be able to savor and appreciate what is at hand as well~

If it is true that one of the greatest pleasures of gardening lies in looking forward, then the planning of next year's beds and borders must be one of the most agreeable occupations in the gardener's calendar.  This should make October and November particularly pleasant months, for then we may begin to clear our borders, to cut down those sodden and untidy stalks, to dig up and increase our plants, and to move them to other positions where they will show up to greater effect.  People who are not gardeners always say that the bare beds of winter are uninteresting; gardeners know better, and take even a certain pleasure in the neatness of the newly dug, bare, brown earth.
Vita Sackville-West 

A few days ago I walked along the edge of the lake and was treated to the crunch and rustle of leaves  with each step I made. The acoustics of this season are different and all sounds, no matter how hushed, are as crisp as autumn air.
 Eric Sloane

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

April blessings to all! Yesterday, I spent most of the day outside working around the mud and remaining snow in the yard. It was a fairly warm day, about 42 degrees (that dang ol' wind persisted still!) and the afternoon was sunny. As I went about my chores, I heard that beautiful, old familiar cry and looked up to try and find the flocks of geese as they passed overhead. One cluster contained well over 300! As I mentally kept track of them throughout the day, there were over 1500 geese that flew over on their homeward migration. I never tire of seeing them...

Quite a bit of snow remains around the fields, and it is mostly corn snow in the woods. The deer, fox and coyote are moving about more, and there are red-winged blackbirds joining the usual crowds at the feeders. The number of finches on the lawn under the feeders has grown to over 300 most days... I appreciate that they are cleaning up the leftover bits of seed the others have dropped.

I am still waiting for the first song of the peepers, and to catch a glimpse of the first snowdrop...

The sap is running quickly still; over the past two days alone I've collected enough to make a gallon of sap, and I expect to do the same today.

Now I must head outside and take advantage of the sun! May you enjoy your day!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Well, I'm still at it! This typical (atypical?) March weather has certainly slowed things down, but this morning, I collected another 20 gallons of sap. I will head back out in about an hour and a half to collect what's there. It has been POURING out all day, but at least the fog has gone away. I had every intention of gathering sap last
  night, but by the time I had gotten some chores out of the way, the sunny, 48 degree weather had suddenly snapped itself into a snow squall!
The 57 gallons of sap collected last week was boiled down into a gallon and a half of syrup. Let's see what this weekend will bring~

Friday, March 20, 2015


Tis true... Spring has officially arrived. Here in these parts, there are still patchings of snow and ice upon the ground, the buds on the trees remain unswollen, the wind is still sharp and icy... but the sun is warm upon the back. Robins and bluebirds are returning to the fields, the maple trees are freely giving their lifeblood sap, the chickadee's wintersong is changing to the shorter and sweeter "dee deee". Owls are hooting close in the evenings, coyotes answer in similar refrain. Mud is taking the place of the snow as the frost oozes out of the ground. The chickens are laying, the roosters, ducks and geese are testier. Soon, the pussywillows will give birth to their fuzzy new catkins, the spring peepers will chirp out from their damp quarters, the geese will cry out daily in their joy on returning home to their northern places. We will look for signs of the first snowdrops and wait for the blossoms to burst out from the forsythia and quince. Yes indeed, spring has sprung!


I wandered lonely as a cloud

that floats on high o'er vales and hills,
when all at once I saw a crowd,
a host of golden daffodils,
beside the lake, beneath the trees,
fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
~William Wordsworth

When Spring Goes By

The winds that on the uplands softly lie,

grow keener where the ice is lingering still
where the first robin on the sheltered hill
pipes blithely to the tune "When Spring goes by".
Here him again, "Spring! Spring!" he seems to cry,
haunting the fall of the flute-throated rill
that keeps a gentle, constant, silver thrill,
while he is restless in his ecstacy.

Ah! The soft budding of the virginal woods,

of the frail fruit trees by the vanishing lakes.
There's the new moon where the clear sunset floods,
a trace of dew upon the rose-leaf sky.
And hark! What rapture the glad robin wakes...
"When Spring goes by... Spring! Spring!
When Spring goes by!"
~Duncan Campbell Scott

March winds and April showers bring forth April flowers

The Spring

Now that the winter's gone, the earth hath lost

her snow-white robes, and now no more the frost
candies the grass, or casts an icy cream
upon the silver lake or crystal stream.
But the warm sun thaws the benumbed earth
and makes it tender... gives a sacred birth
to the dead swallow; wakes in the hollow tree
the drowsy cuckoo and the humble-bee.
Now do a choir of chirping minstrels bring
in triumph to the world the youthful Spring.
The valleys, hills and woods in rich array
welcome the coming of the long'd- for May.
Now all things smile, only my love doth lour;
nor hath the scalding noonday sun the power
to melt the marble ice, which still doth hold
her heart congealed, and makes her pity cold.
The ox, which lately did for shelter fly
into the stall; doth now securely lie
in open fields; and love no more is made
by the fireside, but in the cooler shade
Amyntas now doth with his Chloris sleep
under a sycamore, and all things keep
time with the season; only she doth carry
June in her eyes; in her heart January
~Thomas Carew


The air is like a butterfly with frail blue wings

The happy earth looks at the sky and sings.
~Joyce Kilmer

It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold... when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.

~Charles Dickens

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

I have a bit of spare time while waiting for the sap to boil, so I've been playing digitally with photographs and such.
I love these words from Ram Dass, stated simply yet the meaning is so profound. My daughter-in-law took this photo of my oldest son walking in the back field with my grandson, and it seemed the perfect fit for this message.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

March 15th, 2015

historic photo

Collected another 20 gallons of sap tonight, even though it had snowed on and off all day here, and the temperature hovered around freezing. I started boiling down sap tonight, as well. Hopefully will end up with close to a gallon of light amber syrup tomorrow. My favorite is this first batch, which resembles honey more than syrup.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Sap has begun to flow

Just a brief note (to myself mostly!)
sap started flowing a tiny bit yesterday, and then enough throughout today so that I collected approximately 12 gallons of it tonight.
Today, I began pruning the fruit trees, and heard a small flock of Canadian geese heading homeward.
As I was smashing down a trail with my snowshoes to check the maple trees farthest out in the field, I noticed the ground was COVERED with snow fleas. And, I found a moth inside one of the sap buckets.
Mom and I went to Vermont last week and saw about 40 robins along the roadside near Orwell.
I do believe spring is tiptoeing in...

Monday, March 9, 2015

Don't let the following photographs fool you... there is still plenty of snow covering the ground here. However, today's temperature was well into the forties, and tonight the temperature will only get down into the mid-to-high teens. This seems to be the weather pattern for this week. I was a bit surprised to discover that no sap was running from the maples today, but the snow is definitely shrinking.

The chickens have been laying on and off, depending upon how cold the days and nights have been. They laid over 60 eggs in January, but dropped to less than half that amount in February, as it was so cold for so long. I am again keeping tally for March, so time will tell. I am pleased that it was warm enough to get the chicken coop shoveled out today!

These are photographs from a few years ago, and are reminders of what is to come in about two months. I love these "Spreckle" violets. They came home with me over 30 years ago... a gift from a woman whom I used to garden for. They have self-sown everywhere, and I await their blooming amongst the lilac bush and all the way down our front hill.

Another harbinger of spring is the forsythia, although we are too far north and up the mountain for their blooms to amount to much most years. (They often bear blossoms only as high as the snow that covered them during the winter months.)

Even as a child, Narcissus was one of my most favorite flowers. I do admire daffodils, but the eyed blooms of these lovely posies remain a springtime favorite.

Behold the lowly Dandelion, whose blossoms I look forward to as much as the call of the spring peepers and the first catkins of the pussywillows! I know most folks try everything to rid their lawns of these detested weeds, but I think there is no prettier sight than to see a green field full of bright yellow dandelion faces.

So, for the next few months, I shall dream of the flowers that will peek through once this snow finally melts. Yet realistically, I know that winter is not yet over, as many times we've received early spring storms in mid-March that have dumped 2 to 3 feet of snow on bare ground. Time will tell...