Monday, February 29, 2016

Peace I Ask of Thee

After the forceful Christmastime flood, LaBarque Creek has radically changed its course through the property, eroding its banks, and moving tons of rocks pulverized into dunes of pure white sand. I will need to visit at different times of day in order to obtain just the single photo image that'll show you just how striking are the huge new creekside "beaches" where there were none, new "islands" made of broken fossil rocks, and full-grown trees uprooted and fallen, creating new directions and chutes for the creek water, and also new depths, and therefore new colors--because for the last several years the LaBarque, as it passes through the property, has been shallow everywhere, lacking a swimming hole (last swum in 2008) or worthwhile fishing hole.

What you see here is a tree growing sidewise now, horizontally, a few feet above the water, out of a bank that has just about completely eroded beneath it, and the newly green creek water, deeper now than when it used to run gold. For some reason it looked like a Japanese print to me.

Early spring, right now, is the best time of the year, freshest (like a new book), full of light (with the trees yet leafless) and most heartening and promising.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Signs of Spring

The "secret pond" area below the cliffs, swampy at best, is LaBarque Creek floodplain, and the post-Christmas flood covered a great deal of it with sand, silt, and matted driftwood, and as I descended into my annual early-spring exploration of the area -- impassable because of mud in winter, and in summer and fall with the thorny shrubs, green and succulent, eager to rip your face off -- I didn't know whether to expect mud, water, drowned animals' bones, or what. I'd heard that the silt and sand might cover and suffocate this year's mushroom community. So I looked with hope for the Scarlet Cups (Sarcoscypha austriaca), always the first fungi of the year around here, at maximum about 5cm across. This is the only place on the property where this Sarcoscypha, with its white rickrack, grows. As usual the cups, although small, were hard to miss, fresh and vivid, growing on rotting fallen branches among last autumn's leaves. Spring is about a week early, but it couldn't come fast enough for us.

I had not spent a whole morning outside in months. I forgot what it was like to spend a  morning outside, and what a refreshment the air could be, and how pleasant the sun if I sat down and took it in, and the trees taller than I remembered. Hawks were calling; they're seeking mates right now. In the coming days I will get photos that will tell more of the post-flood story.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Spring Afternoon, Winter Morning

Woke at 5:30 a.m. to clomping noises on the roof. It’s still dark. Maybe the roofers, who were said to be coming to work on the cabin this week, begin early, I thought; some workers do. But I heard no voices. I know roofers talk, unless one of the roofers was out last night with another roofer. But no voices. Got up. Big, thick, wet snow, on the border of frozen mix. No trucks in front of my house. My Hughesnet won’t work. I tinker with the modem and router. It occurs to me how good I am at this. But no dice. Through the Verizon phone connection I see the weather radar. Yes, a big snowy mess, eastern Missouri style—frozen mix burying the crocuses.

At full light, I suit up, go outside, feed the birds, and see good-sized branches fallen everywhere, from the oaks and even from the little redbud, and they’re still breaking under the weight of continuing snow.

The old redwood picnic table, over 15 years repeatedly repaired and C-clamped, which I’d petted the other day and thanked for staying upright all winter, had finally given up the ghost. Moment of silence (thump, plop). I broom the slush off the HughesNet dish. More branches breaking. I drag the largest tree limbs out of the road. Thump. Thud. They’re still falling. I add my tracks in the snow to a deer's. Then a branch whomps on and rolls off my roof. It occurs to me that a random limb might fall and crush not only my roof (glad the roofers are scheduled) but my head, and I’d better go inside until all the thumping stopped. I’m shy of it because during yesterday’s high winds, the trash-can lid flew up and gouged my nose. It’s 32 degrees exactly. But in Missouri, we never say we've seen the last of the snow until April is over.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Just to Let You Know the Crocuses Came Up

First noticed shoots about two weeks ago during a warm spell. First noticed blooms yesterday. They're all over the south-facing slope! It's the best day of the year!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Snake Awake

I raised the garage door with some force, because it's solid wood, very heavy, and takes momentum as well as strength to thrust it up past the point where it will click into place. No problem. Then I see something moving.

It's in the tracks where the pulley wheels run. It's a snake.

OMG. Was it crushed? Is it dead? Half dead? What kind of snake? Is it angry? I can't see its head, only part of its belly. It moves for a while, and then stops.

I killed it. I didn't mean to! What are the odds a snake will be in that door track in a two-door, two-car garage, right at that moment? What a horrible death. I'm sorry!

Then I remember to take a photo.

It begins to move. Slowly it draws its latter half up and out of the mechanism. It's black on top, with a lighter belly, checkered white and light brown. It vanishes.

It's been winter so long I forgot that around this time, creatures are waking up. It was 75 degrees today. Please excuse that the photos aren't that clear. I was trembling.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Life Is Hard

Life is hard sometimes, especially when you don't do everything perfectly and to everyone's taste, or do or say anything without first considering every person's experience in life and their personal needs and opinions and how they might feel or react. Makes it kind of tough to actually do or say anything.

And I've never understood how people put a lot of stock on what is said rather than what is done. That's why you have miserable people saying, "He said he loved me, so I know he loves me, but he never calls," "I know she will make good on her promise because I made good on mine," "My boss told me a year ago I was up for a promotion and a big raise; he must be getting ready to promote me." Or the classic "Check's in the mail."

That's why I live in the woods, where right now a few cedar berries remain in areas, such as deepish road shoulders, where birds aren't finding or getting at them. They aren't true berries; they're actually little tiny cones, because cedars are conifers. I must remind myself that things aren't always what they look like -- but most of the time they are.