Thursday, November 7, 2013

First ice

Earlier this week, all the local waters were open. Now, almost none of them are. Nature's starting to put a lid on My Minnesota until next Spring. It will take awhile for the bigger, deeper waters to loose their residual warmth. Rivers may, or may not, freeze up. Ponds, marshes and, eventually, lakes I expect to turn ice covered over the next several weeks. Ice houses in place by January? We'll see.

skim ice covering a small pond
first ice                        © harrington

It's time to add suet to the bird feeding stations and, for now at least, defrost the bird bath and refill it with water. Much as we practice being locavores, we're (at least one of us is) grateful that we're not limited to only what's in the root cellar for Winter provisions, although hash and beans and stews and soups are pretty popular around here. This Winter, time will be spent researching local food sources for next Spring and Summer (and maybe this Thanksgiving). A good place to start, one you should be familiar with, is Local Harvest. A Minnesota-specific resource can be found at the Land Stewardship Project's web site. It was quite a surprise to discover that the Minnesota Historical Society has a really good section on sustainability called More for the Mission, with an interesting economic analysis on CSA participation. (The MHS link to LSP is out of date. The LSP link above replaces it.) I'd like to see something like the "More for the Mission" philosophy expand in the non-profit sector. If sustainable living is ever going to become mainstream (and it needs to), it has to have most folks perceive it as convenient and economically competitive and maybe even fun. We'll continue to find and share resources that reflect an approach that says sustainable living is about living better, not about "giving up" things and wearing sackcloth and ashes. We're grateful that every day more and more folks seem to understand and agree with this approach .

November trees, some with snow, some without
November trees           © harrington

This picture was taken today. The combination of leafless trees, snow-covered pines and some leaves on the trees, and still leafed  but snowless trees seems like a wonderful portrait of this transition season (plus it's pretty). Donald Hall's poem nicely describes sustainability at this tim of year. Enjoy.

Ox Cart Man

By Donald Hall 

In October of the year,
he counts potatoes dug from the brown field,   
counting the seed, counting   
the cellar’s portion out,   
and bags the rest on the cart’s floor.

He packs wool sheared in April, honey
in combs, linen, leather   
tanned from deerhide,   
and vinegar in a barrel
hooped by hand at the forge’s fire.

He walks by his ox’s head, ten days
to Portsmouth Market, and sells potatoes,   
and the bag that carried potatoes,
flaxseed, birch brooms, maple sugar, goose   
feathers, yarn.

When the cart is empty he sells the cart.   
When the cart is sold he sells the ox,   
harness and yoke, and walks
home, his pockets heavy
with the year’s coin for salt and taxes,

and at home by fire’s light in November cold   
stitches new harness
for next year’s ox in the barn,
and carves the yoke, and saws planks   
building the cart again.

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