Thursday, December 5, 2019

Blown Into December


The last two weeks of November sped past, busier than I had expected. 
The weather, turning colder, caught friends at a vulnerable point in an unfinished building project, so Jim went to help, putting up insulation, configuring some wiring. I rounded up extra sweaters and bedding to bring more comfort to those staying in temporary quarters. 

Mornings have been slow;  a hint of gold on the eastern horizon hasn't always brought a sunny day.
On the 20th, we waited for fog and mist to 'burn off' then headed for the home of our son and daughter-in-law in Tennessee.  Jim had decided to leave a 'spare' pickup truck there, which meant I needed to follow him driving another truck.  I had some misgivings about that, as I've not driven any great distance since moving to Kentucky.  
The first hour of driving was along typically winding roads--if there is a slow-moving vehicle in front, there we are for miles, waiting for a clear passing zone. 

Going over Cagle Mountain there was still tawny color on the oaks, and the mellow slant of late autumn light bathing the deep valleys.  The road down the mountain is so steep and winding that I could spare only a few glances for the scenery.

Leaving one truck parked in Howard's dooryard, I became a passenger while Jim drove us over torturous Suck Creek Gap and then through cringe-worthy city traffic to connect up with Howard and his cousins who live near where he is doing custom carpentry. 
It was a joy while there to meet our not quite three year old great-nephew.

Home before midnight to see a deer, two possums, and a large rabbit hurrying away down the lane, picked out in the glare of our headlights.

Howard and Dawn [and their dogs] were with us for several days over the Thanksgiving holiday. The festive meal was held at the home of our daughter and son-in-law, Gina and Matt. Our nephew and his family were also present--lovely food, good company.
As the afternoon wore on, the sun disappeared, the wind came up and inky clouds moved in.


Bursts of heavy rain and a strong cold wind prevailed through the first two days of December.  Bundled up one morning to take out cat litter I glanced down the lane just as the top of a dead tree broke and pitched downward.  It was one of the fire-damaged trees which stood near the burned remains of the former owner's house.


During several days of inclement weather I got on with sorting things in the lower level rooms.
["Sorting" doesn't mean that everything has found a proper place!]
Jim announced that he was in the mood to deal with some pictures and decorative items so I hurried to be helpful. 
This is my favorite quilt rack, one that Jim made from tulip poplar harvested on the Amish farm.
My three cherished reproduction maps are now hanging above the piano.


An oil painting, dear to me for memories of a special place, now hangs to the left of my desk.



Not a good photo--with the flash reflection.
These prints came from a lovely gardening book.
I framed them to hang in the kitchen of our first Wyoming house.
They've faded a bit, but add color to the wall near the pantry.


I would like to display some of our vintage collectibles on the shelf [created by Howard] which runs above my baking counter.
Obviously, this wouldn't be a good plan.


We have too much help!

Robert is supervising!

The joy of the sun returning!


Note the nest of the grey squirrels in the top of a tree. During summer months I watched the squirrels leap from tree to tree--there are also large nests in the trees to the right of the photo.


The neighbor's property can now be viewed through the trees in the shallow ravine to the south of the house.


Every daylight hour is precious in these weeks leading to the winter solstice.


Jim has happily taken advantage of three sunny days to construct a shelter for fire wood.

This is firewood that moved with us from our Amish farm.


Part of the woodpile has already been stashed under the roof.


As we settle into the first winter in our new house,  I delight in the slow process of making the spaces more personal, of finding room for favorite bits and pieces. 
We are blessed to be so comfortable in the variables of weather.



Thursday, November 14, 2019

The Edge of Winter

Sunrise 
My first act on leaving my bed in the morning is to cross the great room floor, pull back the heavy linen curtains and raise the blinds on the two east facing windows. 
Sunrise occurs a bit later each morning. This week only a faint glow of dawn rims the sky at 6: 30.
It is 7 or after when the full glory of the rising sun briefly explodes. 


In the time it takes to walk back to my desk and return to the door with my camera for a second shot, the patterns and colors have shifted.



It was pleasant, if not sunny, on the two afternoons last week when I worked to tidy the plantings along the retaining walls. 
The roses have all been pruned, a few weeds tweaked out.
I was pleased to note that I have 13 [!] little clumps of 'pinks' established at the far end of the border. The tiny plants took heart from rain and cooler weather and appear sturdy enough to winter over.


Nepeta, lightly pruned in August, has also spread into solid, fragrant cushions.


Garden nepeta is a close relative of catnip;  the foliage has a distinctive scent, sweeter and muskier than its rustic counterpart so beloved of most felines.  Edward -Cat is quite fond of this and if he is anywhere about when I disturb a plant, he throws himself into it, wallows and thrashes dementedly. 



I scuffed this heart-shaped rock out of the fallen  leaves during one of my trips to dump prunings at the edge of the south ravine. 


Before the first frost David Beachy appeared with farm machinery to cut the field again.  This last growth of the summer was light, due to the long late summer drought, but one bale was gleaned to be trundled off for the Beachy's cattle.


Jim has been planing lumber in the barn, some of which has come inside for shelves in the basement. 
That area [the back underground end of the basement] has finished nicely. There are now sturdy shelves for canned goods, a large work counter with storage. Walls and ceilings have been covered in a pale grey wood-grained sheeting.
I have begun the somewhat daunting task of opening bins and boxes to sort everything from sewing tools, fabric and projects to books [more books!] extra bedding and oddments, some of which need to be collected and taken to the local Goodwill.
The sunny downstairs living area is still a muddle of furniture and items which have yet to find their proper place.
Yesterday I decided to move a heavy vintage cupboard from one side of the room to the other. I got a rug under one end of it and began tugging.
Jim walked past with an armload of tools to store in the shed.
"I'll help you move that when I'm done sorting tools."
I was in that mood where something needs doing now, and I continued to push and drag on the cupboard until I had it nearly across the room
At that point I had to concede that I undone the 'adjustment' my chiropractor accomplished on Monday. 
Jim appeared later to position the cupboard and to scold me for my stubborness.



Temperatures dropped Monday night. By early evening flakes of snow were spinning beyond the porch lights.
Morning came slowly, cold, overcast, the landscape dusted with frost and snow. 


I bundled up for my morning chores--kibble and water for the outside cats, litter boxes to tend.
We were glad  to be snug indoors.  I read much of the day, Jim sequestered himself with his TV.


                 The cats demanded to go outside, stepped into the snow, shook their paws. 



The walk to and from the mailbox at the head of the lane has been chilly--better when the sun shines.



I sometimes remember to take the camera with me, awkward to handle, pulling off gloves, getting chilled fingers.


The tub of nasturtiums on the back porch held up through several frosty nights. 
Yesterday morning there was the surprise of one final bloom, short-stemmed and stiff with a coating of ice.


Geraniums, small rosemarys and begonias are crowded into the sun room.



The remains of the garden are bleak, the August-planted kale, broccoli and cabbages seared with frost and snow, not having reached full maturity.
The brown heads of sunflowers stand starkly in the glow cast by the early setting sun.
Weather and seasons defy the calendar pages.
We are more than a month away from the solstice, but we have felt the edge of winter.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Blowing Into November

A photo from October 29--before the wind began to blow.

A milky fog hung about all day Wednesday, the air felt heavy and humid. By evening rain began to fall , collecting in puddles on the road.
During the night the wind picked up, blowing sharply from the north-west. When I woke--before 5--I lay still, surrounded by cats, listening to the shush of rain flung against the windows.

Darkness has lingered throughout the day,
We are warned that before midnight temperatures will drop several degrees below freezing.

Earlier in the week I brought in  geraniums and two small rosemarys, lodging them in the sun room.
I have eyed my begonias--several gangling Angel Wing types, the huge 'Beefsteak', the flowering tender begonias that have spent the summer in pots on the front patio.
Where to put so many?

The heaviest pots have been dragged into the sun-room, out of the chill wind and rain.  The smaller ones have been plonked here and there--on a stool by a downstairs window, in a crowded line-up on the Hoosier cabinet, hopefully not permanent winter quarters. 

I considered abandoning the small begonias; they can be replaced inexpensively each spring, but there they are, still blooming, capable of over-wintering to enjoy another summer, so in they came.

The lemon verbena has been lugged into the downstairs living room.  I should have pruned it during the summer.
The five year old rosemary in the big tub is still on the lower porch, wrapped in sheeting, which I hope will stay in place during the windy night.  



Several sprays of  David Austin rose Roald Dahl brought in on Monday.


The warmth of the kitchen has coaxed these into bloom.


Surely these are the last of the roses, cut this morning as cold rain stung my face and wind whipped my hair from under my hood.


The cats become fractious on rainy days.  Those with outdoor privileges insist on ducking out into the rain, then moments later are huddled on the doorstep pleading to come in; once inside they shake wet paws, head for soft places to dry out.
Clancy-the- Kitten is not allowed out.  He is fascinated by raindrops sliding down the window panes.


With my plants rescued, I made bread, wanting to share with Amish neighbors whose son has been injured in a logging accident.
The smell of baking bread and simmering potato soup defied the grey raw day.
Jim has kept a wood fire burning all day.
We went out this afternoon to make shelters for the barn cats--a heavy furniture quilt draped over the  wicker bench on the back porch; a big cat carrier lined with an old red sweatshirt; a box in the barn made cozy with a shabby blanket. 

Tomorrow we will wake to a different landscape, one a bit bleak with the increasing darkness of November.
More of the sky will be visible through nearly bare branches;  fallen leaves will lie sodden on the grass or plastered wetly against the steps and the porch floor.
Our first winter in this snug house, and all 'safely gathered in, ere the winter storms begin.'

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

October Scenes


Sunrise has been vivid most mornings, even when the sky later becomes patchy with clouds.


The meadow is greener since the rains. 


On several days rain has moved in abruptly, continuing into the evening.


The ravine at the west end of the property billows with smoky mist as evening falls.


Leaves still cling to the trees along the lane.


There is changing color in the trees which rim the meadow.
Wind and rain over the weekend brought down leaves along the lane. 


Morning sun has been tardy in breaking through layers of mist and cloud.


There is nothing handsome or appealing about vultures.  The red-headed variety and the black-headed ones such as this duo are common in Kentucky. 
These are finding a favorite perch in the fire-blasted tree that still stands near the house site of former owners.
On a mid-morning errand last week we noticed a 'committee of vultures' roosting in a group of half-dead trees near the highway.  Jim remarked that we've seen them previously in that same area, a stretch of wooded marshland. Some of the birds were hunched on branches, others had their wings bent outward as though airing their feathers.
I didn't find them an attractive sight.


I saw only one or two black and yellow garden spiders [argiope aurantia] this summer, although I kept watch for their intricate webs with the signature zig-zag centers. 
One has left her sack of eggs attached to the south side of the barn.


Yellow zinnias prevail although the other colors have mostly faded and gone to seed.


A very lethargic bumblebee 


We don't have maples to go out in a blaze of autumn reds and oranges.


Trees at the edge of the ravine behind the shed still hold green blending with muted shades of bronze and russet.


One crimson-leaved tree lights up a misty morning.


I began grubbing out a strip in back of the Knock-Out rose hedge.
After two afternoons of work  [not shown here] I have a space which can be further enlarged in the spring.  I removed sod [and weeds!] below the east facing basement windows and tucked in my seedling lavenders.
I also turned the soil along the edge of the patio bricks by the front door; more lavender planted there and the thyme, sage and oregano which summered in a big tub. 
It is late in the season to undertake transplanting, but it couldn't be done before the fall rains mellowed the dry soil. 
The proof of the experiment won't be seen until spring.


These roses were labeled as 'landscape/ground cover roses. They have instead matured as vigorous climbers.  They will need to be moved and given a trellis or other support.
Even as I have labored to put the gardens to bed for the winter, even as I've come inside to groan over an aching back, the possibilities  for another springtime fuel my imagination.


These David Austen roses were chilled when I brought them in, but later responded to warmth in the kitchen window.
The first blooms of spring and the last in autumn are especially treasured.