Monday, March 27, 2017

Oh, I Gotta. . .

. . .call all my friends to come over, put on their water-resistant gear and boots with major treads and come with me to tour the property's 8 waterfalls just after a good solid rain. These are waterfalls #5 (above) and #2. To photograph Waterfall 2 demands you balance on a nice wet incline. From there it's only 25 yards to Waterfall 5 but it's not like there's a walkway. Bushwhack and step in the stream if you can't jump it, and risk the quicksand--because wet silica sand can make quicksand, and don't say no, because once I got caught in it under the Highway F bridge. It won't swallow you up like in the movies, but if both feet are in it you'll have a devil of a time trying to 1) grasp that you are stuck in quicksand and treading it like you're making grapes into wine and 2) free yourself. Pray that nobody else is there to jeer. It might help to untie and remove your boots and and throw yourself full length onto a nearby gravel bar where you can sit and think about how to pull your boots out.
The watercourses for each of these falls originate on the Divine property and empty into LaBarque Creek. Only in a very dry spell are these watercourses intermittent.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

In Search of Spring

Soil at 50 degrees is the minimum for morel mushrooms. Each year about this time, every week I take the soil temp in the woods where they grow; this first time got 54 degrees. But really we can't expect them at this latitude (39N) so early in spring. If you were a morel, would you want to stand in wet 54-degree mud and stay there? Would you even poke your head out if there's still a chance that a freeze might shrivel your delicate tissues? Granted, it's very rich mud, quite satisfactory, but if I were a morel at this time of year there wouldn't be enough sun to coax me out.

So when the rain temporarily ceased, I (who am not a morel) went searching in the universe for other signs of spring, edible and not, and, dog my cats, I found some. The daffodil is not in my yard.

Plenty of brand-new Turkey Tail mushrooms and those brown Japanese wood-ears were growing on downed trees.

I and my neighbor Terri vote that spring should last all year. Yourself?


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Druid in a Bathrobe

East to west through 3 rooms
Whoever built the Divine Cabin in 1935 did it right, because March 20, equinox, at sunrise I was waiting like a druid in my bathrobe for the early sunbeams to knife straight through three rooms to the back wall. The builder cared enough to point the kitchen door precisely due east--so that the west-facing window hosted the exact same phenomenon, a sunbeam piercing the house clear through, in reverse in late afternoon. Does it in autumn, too. But spring is the most heartening time of year and its first day its most heartening day. I toasted it with coffee, ate cornmeal mush with maple syrup, and bacon--it doesn't get any better than that. . .smiled all day.

March 2017 has been 81 degrees and then 24 at night, and then it snowed, but every time this happens I frame it as spring starting all over again. Spring is a limited-time-only thing and I set the alarm now to get up before dawn so I experience as much of spring as possible. I think somehow it appreciates me back, turning all soft and green and baby blue.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Winter Comes to Missouri

"Merry Christmas," I said to the custodian while tracking icy, dirty snow water onto his clean floor in the middle of March, the first snowy day after a string of 60- to 75-degree February days that had us all smug and out on the porch wearing tees and shorts. I was so happy I'd taken advantage of a clear dry Saturday, the previous week, to visit a distant university library during its spring break where its librarians, otherwise idle, waited on me, patiently answering low-hanging questions about the technology and returning over and over to my computer terminal to teach me things about stuff when of course they would rather be sunning.

Luckily I'd chosen that over planting vegetable seeds. Never be fooled by Missouri weather. During the warm days the bluebirds arrived and I raked up leaves into long landing strips of wet earth and sparse grass because they eat by pinning live prey to the earth. They do that more easily if the ground is free of fallen leaves and I was promptly at their service because bluebirds are among the top 100 things about life. I am their custodian. May I be always strong enough to do the job.

While looking for beauty I found a nest I'd never seen before although it had to have been there all winter.

Friday, March 3, 2017

It Snarled

Opossums trotting through the layer of oak leaves that's all around the house make a rustling sound exactly like a person. Out on the porch I looked for a person and found an opossum passing through. It did not play dead at all, but faced me and hissed with a mouth full of sharp white teeth, not at all like a person. It wasn't ready for its close-up.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

It Bloomed

The amaryllis has four majestic blossoms each measuring about six inches across. The stalk is a foot and half tall. It is like an Easter lily but scarlet, and times four, and gorgeous. Thank you to Terri who gave me my first amaryllis starter kit.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The New Firebowl

New firebowl
The firebowl I dug and built, obscured with brush and fallen wood, was a disheartening sight because I love a nice fire for myself and guests; it's just fun to watch and poke at while enjoying adult beverages. Unable to clean it up--and I wanted it moved a couple of feet over--without a chainsaw, I hired Patrick to do it, and not only did he dig and build a handsome new bowl out of stone I'd thrown behind the garage, but chopped and stacked all the fallen and mostly rotted wood, and I will burn some as soon as it stops raining and the wind dies down and I rake for quite a radius beyond the firebowl because there's fallen oak leaves an inch thick from autumn. I don't want to catch a spark.

The property could actually use a controlled burn to eliminate briars and brushy understory, but that won't happen. Meanwhile I'd cogitated on the fact that I'll probably be home more often during this administration and entertain more people, and the firebowl is a fine enhancement as well as potentially useful.
Old firebowl

Here are "after" and "before" pictures, with the "after" picture first, because if I put the "before" first nobody would know what it was. The old firebowl was encircled partly with sawn hunks of wood and partly with concrete and stone. Patrick, camera-shy, would not pose with his handiwork.
New firebowl with woodpile