Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Hours of Sunshine Before Rain

Sunset on Saturday evening.

Our house sits in a narrow space between two ridges which create an effect of sundown while the bigger house down the lane is still wrapped in daylight. 
Passing the windows which face onto the front porch I was startled to see this thick pillar of fiery gold stabbing through the bare hillside trees.

I snatched up my old down vest and my camera and hurried outside to record this strange
 shaft of light.

Turning, I traced the path of the contrail spanning the sky.

Sunday's rising sun washed the side hill in warm and burnished color--so different from the monotonous shades of grey and brown which have greeted us for many days.

Jim had the excuse of a bonfire to tend--a great pile of brush below the small stable, legacy of the previous owners.  I could think of no useful tasks that would keep me outdoors, but had no intention to waste this rare sunny day lingering inside.
After a scanty breakfast I collected a container of scraps for the barn cats, banana peels for the goats that live in the pasture bordering the lane, pulled on sturdy shoes and headed out.

Feathery contrails intersected the bright blue sky.

My shadow stretched in front of me when I stopped at the end of the lane to acknowledge Munchkin's friendly greeting.

Spruce Pine Creek ran clear in its gravely bed.
I was wearing leather boots rather than wellies so didn't wade across at the shallows to walk the perimeter of the back field. 
Deer have been gathering at the edges of the front field, leaving deeply indented hoof prints in the spongy ground.

I wasn't ready to be indoors and nearing the house, stood for a moment where the lane divides to loop around the house and shop.  I eyed the track which scrambles up the steep ridge.  It is not an easy walk, but I decided on a whim to tackle it. I was scarcely into the trees and headed upward before I felt the hot twinge of laboring muscles in calves and thighs.  Pause; breathe; clamber on. I began counting my steps, considering that each one carried me a linear foot farther up the steep track. Forty paces and I'll rest again.  No--surely I can do fifty--fifty five, round the sharp corner, rest for a moment and out on the higher flatter ground. 
Sparrows bounce, chittering, in the underbrush. Dry leaves rattle on the branches of a tree that I [tentatively] name as an ash.
The trees are dense here, oak, a stand of persimmon, rearing toward the sky.

Woodpeckers have built a multi-level condo in the trunk of a persimmon.

I crank my head back, gazing dizzily at the twisted pattern of treetops against the clouds, 

Standing at the head of the track, looking into the sharp bend that pitches down the side of the ridge.

Jim prodded at his bonfire for much of the afternoon, coming inside occasionally, smudged with soot and reeking of smoke. 
I pottered about, dished out their 'tea' to the cats who had set up a clamor as soon as I came in.
I stirred the fire in the wood range, made myself a grilled cheese sandwich--gooey yellow cheddar between thick slices of homemade bread, washed down with a mug of darjeeling.
[Hearty fare, if not strictly healthy, but justified as restorative after the climb up the ridge!] 

Late on Saturday evening I had read the first few chapters of "Thin Air" the latest of the Ann Cleeves Shetland mysteries. 
By the time Jim came in to clean up and make his own sandwich I was settled into my rocking chair, finishing the book.
[By way of review, I must state that this latest wasn't the most engrossing or best plotted of the series.]
On Monday, a day out with Jim in the truck.  He was off on miles of narrow and winding back roads to purchase a front-end loader for the latest tractor.
We took a break to wander through a rambling old building housing a second hand furniture store--having landed unexpectedly in a town that wasn't part of the planned route.

Jim concluded after miles of back-tracking that the 'side road' which he needed wasn't marked with a proper sign. When finally located, it was a one lane paved track that twisted around blind curves, reared over sudden small hills, pitched crazily along creek banks. 
Jim, an intrepid driver, remarked that if one met another vehicle there was literally no place to get out of the way; verges were non-existent. 
An hour later, with the bucket loader lashed onto the back of Snort'n Nort'n [the old Dodge] Jim decided there was an easier route home--once we had made our way out of the enfolding
 'hills and hollers!'
The sky by this time had resumed its familiar cloudy grey; occasional bursts of rain streamed against the windshield.
I was pleased when we spotted one of our favorite chain restaurants on the Danville bypass--within moments we were seated near the log fire in a Cracker Barrel dining room.
A good dinner, a stop at Lowes for bits and pieces, the drive home through gathering dusk.

Two more aprons constructed before bedtime.
And today--rain again! 
Desultory housekeeping tasks--laundry, hoovering up the nasty Asian lady bugs which blunder about on the window sills and walls on each warmer day.
The bed purchased last week for the downstairs guest room has been assembled, neatly made up.
I have trolled ebay for fabric remnants, sorted and organized magazines which I intend to keep.
I have paged through a favorite seed catalog, wishing for a more lavish garden than is possible.
I have ventured onto Face Book long enough to check on family and friends, resolutely 'hiding' the repetitive posts which those of either political party feel compelled to 'share.'

I have journaled myself up to date here--now husband and cats are indicating that it is time for bed!


  1. Thanks again for another newsy post from your life. Glad you were able to get out and take a hike and also had a nice trek in the truck.

    Happy February ~ FlowerLady

    1. Rainey; The winter has seemed so long and grey that I relish every chance to be out and about!

  2. We've had few sunny days here, also. Like you, on the one we did have, I was loathe to spend it inside. Your trek to find the front-end loader sounds quite adventurous. Must be fun to live where you do. We don't have any such roads around here.


    1. Jane; I find driving -and sometimes being a passenger--on KY roads rather daunting. All are some degree of narrow and winding. I long ago coined a phrase which describes many journeys with Jim--"A typical Whitehurst journey!"

  3. Sounds like you're marking time till Spring, I know the feeling.

    1. Janet; "Spring" when it arrives, is a welcome season--if only it didn't tumble so quickly into the hot and humid weeks of summer!

  4. I envy your ability to go out for a hike. Southwestern Vermont has become less than hospitable for walkers. Yesterday morning started with snow and soon changed to sleet and finally freezing rain. Our driveway is a bit of an Ice Follies rink and our dirt road was treacherous early this morning. Yesterday I caught sight of a Barred Owl as it luffed down to the wood pile next to our barn. It proved to be the perfect 'deer stand' as he/she scored a small rodent in a matter of minutes. The sap buckets are popping up around nearly every bend.

    1. Mundi; Your descriptions always prompt mind-pictures of Vermont. Nearly time for 'mud season' there!
      Owls are beautiful and fascinating creatures--their hunting tactics are fierce and swift--I'm OK with their diet of rodents--as long as they aren't swooping down on my cats!
      It does seem that New England now has more freezing rain and sleet than the heavy snows of former decades.

  5. It sounds like a perfect day to me! A couple of adventures on foot and one in the Dodge, some beautiful scenery and views, friendly critters, a warm fire, a bit of reading and sewing and even a new plow! My Dad had an old Dodge truck that he loved. That beauty was a work-horse! The grilled cheese sandwich sounds perfect, too. Our snow has melted, but now there is wind and rain lashing at the windows so I am not able to get out much these days. Thank you for the beautiful walk - I needed that! xx K

    1. Karen; Jim wouldn't trade the old Dodge for any number of newer trucks! I have to admit its not the most comfortable ride.
      Its a time of year for indoor projects--the kind that can be laid aside if the weather clears enough for a foray into the fresh air.