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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

What of that Groundhog?

By the end of the week, the groundhogs -- both proverbial and those trotted out for media exploitation -- will either have seen their shadows or not. But here in the northlands, many more weeks of winter are on tap regardless; while some who live here chomp at the bit, waiting for warmer weather and enduring my comments suggesting a move to a climate more to their liking, I love the winter.

Something of the long nights, cold weather, warm hearth and slower pace to the day really sits well with me. Don't get me wrong though... come spring, summer and fall I will be bounding about in joy at planting, tending, harvest, enjoying the fresh produce and the activities of the young chickens and ducks. And making abundant use of the longer hours of daylight, most certainly.

I hold the belief that balance in all things is good. Most often that is a dynamic balance; up contrasted with down, long days with short and likewise the nights, and times of contentment with times of stress and distress. A life of total constant balance seems to me, to the extent that I am able to image such a time, to be beyond boring. Some seek happiness like an addict does his drug. At times it seems like our society does the same with safety. Now, I won't say "go forth and seek gloom, misery and woe" or sing the praises of danger, however without contrast, how can one truly appreciate the joys of life and without some risk... well, I, at least, would be tempted to succumb to an attitude of "why bother."

So, as the season is at cusp, let me put forth for your consideration this paraphrase of  Thoreau:  "Live each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and revel in the influences of each."

Here at hex central, we have most recently emerged from a 10 day spell of weather much colder than typical for the season, during which our hot water stopped running and in the back bathroom, all the water lines, and even two of the drains froze up. I waxed nostalgic for the days with my 1901 Home Comfort wood range (though even here in Main it would be too warm for its use in the summer), as it was easy to keep up to 3 large canning kettles on that stove top to heat sufficient water for dishes and bath, with room to spare for a skillet and a normal kettle. The stove top surface was no larger than that of my current gas range, but now being constrained to 4 distinct burner areas, the canners crowded even the smallest of other pots on the front burner eyes.

However, yesterday the cold spell broke and today the high was well above freezing, as is predicted for tomorrow as well. There has been some cold rain, which is supposed to freeze some tonight becoming sleet. The town trucks were out last night spewing sand and much of the area around the fowl pens that LOOKED like open earth or mud was covered early on with a transparent, thin layer of ice. I am sure it will be that way again tomorrow when I head for town in the pre-dawn hours, but with another day of melt under its belt, perhaps the walkway to the fowl and most of the driveway will clear. Snow is predicted for the end of the week, so any groundhogs peeking out of their burrows in my neighborhood likely won't need their shades. However he's better be prepared for a bit more of a nap, 'cause the likelihood of an early spring seems a bit weak to my bones. But we shall see...

Meanwhile I have used this bit of warmer weather to unearth the growing shelved from the garage and bring them in. Later in the week I'll prep the grow lights for the start of the onion and leek planting in a week or so.