Thursday, December 28, 2017

Cast your bread upon the ...??? #phenology

It's cold. Snowflakes, the fine, easily windblown kind, have been falling all morning without much accumulation. The usual suspects have been flitting to and fro at and beneath the feeders. Temperatures have crept above zero, but not by much. We imagine that the local deer and turkeys are bedded and roosted in the most sheltered locations they can find. Deer can, and do, browse on twigs if there's no mast crop. We're not sure what turkeys feed on when the acorn crop is below average. That may be something to research one of these days.

it's the time of year to look for cardinals at the feeder around sunset
it's the time of year to look for cardinals at the feeder around sunset
Photo by J. Harrington

We'll also be researching ways to improve our gluten-free artisan bread. Yesterday's sourdough loaves turned out well. The gluten-free boule, not so much. We can report that it wasn't as good as the sourdough, or our usual artisan bread. We can claim that it wasn't a complete failure, or that it was a mitigated success. If we're being honest, we can also report that we were surprised at how irritated we became when the Daughter Person suggested ways we could improve our gluten free bread. Imagine, a younger person telling us, US, how to do something better. We fear we may have totally qualified for membership in the grumpy old fart club yesterday. We'll probably try some of her suggestions next loaf of gluten-free we bake, and if they work, use a couple of slices to make a crow sandwich we can then proceed to eat.

On the brighter side, the second amaryllis may, within the next month or so, open it's flowers. The third one, we doubt will every produce, but then we thought yesterday we had figured out how to bake gluten-free bread. Learning to live with and in a moderate or higher degree of uncertainty may be a useful trait these days.

one amaryllis in full bloom
one amaryllis in full bloom
Photo by J. Harrington

Did you prepay your property taxes? As far as we can tell, our county hasn't produced assessments or bills so we don't think we can qualify for a federally deductible prepayment of our property taxes. We're also having a challenging time sorting our what is or isn't covered in  the state's new and "improved" CVS pharmacy management program. Let's just leave it at the idea it seems yet another great argument for a single-payer plan. The changes imposed on beneficiaries to save a few dollars feel more like cost-shifting than cost savings.

Does Winter diminish your normally sunny personality? Or are you one of those who relishes the kind of weather we're having because it keeps out the "riffraff?" We're pleased as punch (thank you, Hubert!) to note that the days have already picked up a few minutes of daylight since the Solstice and that there's only 63 days until meteorological Spring. Now we need to go find some way to enjoy the present moment for the next 63+ days. Often, Spring in Minnesota is but a momentary pause between Winter and Summer.

The Metier of Blossoming


Denise Levertov, 1923 - 1997


Fully occupied with growing—that’s
the amaryllis. Growing especially
at night: it would take
only a bit more patience than I’ve got
to sit keeping watch with it till daylight;
the naked eye could register every hour’s
increase in height. Like a child against a barn door,
proudly topping each year’s achievement,
steadily up
goes each green stem, smooth, matte,
traces of reddish purple at the base, and almost
imperceptible vertical ridges
running the length of them:
Two robust stems from each bulb,
sometimes with sturdy leaves for company,
elegant sweeps of blade with rounded points.
Aloft, the gravid buds, shiny with fullness.

One morning—and so soon!—the first flower
has opened when you wake. Or you catch it poised
in a single, brief
moment of hesitation.
Next day, another,
shy at first like a foal,
even a third, a fourth,
carried triumphantly at the summit
of those strong columns, and each
a Juno, calm in brilliance,
a maiden giantess in modest splendor.
If humans could be
that intensely whole, undistracted, unhurried,
swift from sheer
unswerving impetus! If we could blossom
out of ourselves, giving
nothing imperfect, withholding nothing!


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