Saturday, February 24, 2018

Hoarfrost #phenology

This morning was gray on grey on gray...: overcast skies above freezing fog above hoarfrost covered trees and ground covers above snow covered ground. It was one of the most depressing landscapes we recall seeing. No signs of life were visible anywhere. Fairies had gone to hiding in the hoarfrost's fairy forest.

a hoarfrost covered fairy forest
a hoarfrost covered fairy forest
Photo by J. Harrington

We get relatively few episodes of hoarfrost in our neighborhood. It can, under conditions dissimilar to this morning's, create beautiful views. Hoarfrost requires a temperature regime similar to what's needed for maple sugaring, warm days and below freezing nights, plus lots of moisture in the atmosphere, which comes from the Winter's snow cover melting. Tonight we'll be adding to this season's cover, with 6 to 10 inches of new snow forecast for our area. We'll make sure the feeders are full later this afternoon. Impending snowstorms trigger multiple visits from local flocks. How do they know? Do the fairies warn them?

                     Lines for Winter

Poor muse, north wind, or any god   
who blusters bleak across the lake   
and sows the earth earth-deep with ice.   
A hoar of fur stung across the vines:   
here the leaves in full flush, here   
abandoned to four and farther winds.   
Bless us, any god who crabs the apples   
and seeds the leaf and needle evergreen.   
What whispered catastrophe, winter.   
What a long night, beyond the lamplight,   
the windows and the frost-ferned glass.   
Bless the traveler and the hearth he travels to.   
Bless our rough hands, wind-scabbed lips,   
bless this our miscreant psalm.

Thanks for visiting. Come again when you can.
Please be kind to each other while you can.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Imagine Peace?

It snowed last night, about 5 or 6 inches worth around here. We're forecast to get even more tomorrow night. The weather isn't contributing much to our sense of malaise this week, because we know that, inexorably, the sun will rise further and further North until it reaches Summer solstice. Daylight will get longer. Temperatures will rise and turn the snow into snowmelt which, in turn, will increase the flow in local streams and brooks and creeks and rivers.

a peaceful North Country stream
a peaceful North Country stream
Photo by J. Harrington

We are less certain about what will come of current political and cultural meltdowns. The kinds of madness we're experiencing have been too major a part of our lives since at least the 1960's, a generation or so after the second world war. John F Kennedy was assassinated in 1963. Five years later, Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy were murdered and the country was rocked by riots. Midway in between, Bob Dylan wrote and recorded It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding). The truth of those lyrics continue to ring out today. [UPDATE: Go see The 1968 Exhibit at Minnesota History Center.]

Things didn't improve much when the start of the 1970's, a new decade, was ushered in by the Kent State killings of unarmed students by the National Guard. But then, the early 1970's were when TIME magazine declared Minnesota "The State That Works," although more recent coverage in MinnPost questions whether that's still true.

We're unclear the continuity of these conundrums should be a source of concern (it's just life) or comfort (and life only). We are sure that we like it better when it seems as though "things" are getting better. We fear that a major, underlying, factor may have been captured in this paragraph from Poetry as Spiritual Practice.
In our schools, grades K through 12, students are not so much educated as trained to perform well on standardized tests. They aren't taught to think for themselves, question or be curious. They're encouraged to accept what they're told without hesitation. Could this have something to do with the fact that more than 50 percent of eligible young people in the United States do not bother to vote, or with America's free fall among other nations when comparing what students know in language arts, math and science?
Robert McDowell, "Poetry as Practice's" author, suggests part of an answer may lie with more of us becoming more familiar with the poem/prayer that follows. Skeptical as we are of organized religion, we think both Robert and Francis are onto something here. Shall we keep words like these in mind as we go about electing our representatives next November? All we are saying, is give peace a chance.

Peace Prayer of Saint Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Thanks for visiting. Come again when you can.
Please be kind to each other while you can.