asakiyume: (cloud snow)
I subscribed to a local newspaper, a physical paper that comes to the house, for the first time ever, and it's a decision that delights me. Even the ads delight me. If it weren't for the ads, I wouldn't have found out about a place nearby called the Strawbale Café (built with straw bales, but then plastered over), which, at this time of year, makes its own maple syrup.

We went for a visit this past weekend.

The bottom part of their evaporator dates from 1959.

boiling maple sap, Westhampton, MA

Here is the main line, reaching up into the sugarbush. (Isn't that a great name for a stand of sugar maples?)

main lines from sugarbush

And here you can just about see the much thinner piping that goes to each tree. In the past, people would collect sap in buckets and then carry it somewhere to boil it down, but now they generally use piping like this.

side lines connecting individual trees

When I used to tap maple trees, I gathered the sap in old milk jugs:

jug full of maple sap

But back to the present: This apparatus pumps water back up the line at the end of the season to clean the lines and (somehow) help seal things off (I didn't really understand that part).

pump and lines coming in from sugarbush

And here are the sap storage tanks.

tanks for storing sap

Last but not least, inside the Strawbale Café, where everyone was enjoying fresh maple syrup on pancakes, and the manager was urging people to come back in the summer, when they have a much more extensive menu.

Strawbale Cafe, Westhampton, MA


Feb. 25th, 2019 09:46 pm
asakiyume: (cloud snow)
At 6:30, this windstorm knocked out the power, and I freaked out, picturing us without power for days in the well-below-freezing temperatures. The pipes would surely freeze and burst and then cost extravagant amounts to fix, and anyway we wouldn't be able to fix them right away because everyone else's pipes would have burst too, and so the helper-fixer people would be in short supply.

I went to the supermarket to get milk and maybe another candle. In the parking lot, I met Wakanomori, who'd just gotten off the bus; he said the town to the west had power. I knew from the gossip in the supermarket that the town to the east didn't.

"We'll just have to sleep in one huge bundle in the living room under coats and blankets to keep warm," I said as we drove home. Without street lights or house lights, it was deeply dark everywhere.

As we were about to turn in at our driveway, our headlights illuminated a huge and unearthly creature, the color of smoke and about as corporeal, standing where we usually park. It was a deer--standing in the middle of the driveway. It stared at us a moment, then ceded us the parking space and walked away down the slope into our neighbor's backyard accompanied by a friend who'd been standing by our apple tree.

"National Grid estimates the power will be back by 11 pm," the healing angel reported, once we were inside.

"Please let it be so," I prayed.

And a minute later, the lights came on.

I think it was a blessing from the deer.
asakiyume: (november birch)
These cows are here, winter and summer--under these pine trees. Up the hill from them right now is a huge pile of butternut squash which I think? they must be eating? I like them; they are shaggy.

cows in the distance

Black Cow

BTW... there are two entries before this one that I think possibly didn't make it into people's feeds. I did some hijinks with postdating and initially making private entries and then changing them to public, and I think they may have fallen into a friends feed oubliette.

ice lantern

Jan. 4th, 2018 09:35 am
asakiyume: (cloud snow)
First it will be snowstorming, then it will be back to the deep, deep freeze. Keep the home fires burning and a light out for the stranger.**

Ice lantern January 3 2018

**Rich of me to say this since my outdoor lights don't actually work. But now I have the ice lantern, so it's all okay, right?
asakiyume: (cloud snow)

It is very satisfying to walk out into the deep cold well enough wrapped up to not be bothered by the chill.

I paid a visit to a frozen creek. I didn't pick the ice flowers.

here abide frozen things )

Last year I resolved to write creatively at least two days a week, to work on Spanish every day (or to make up days I missed), and to record the things I notice each day. I failed at the first and third of those, but I did the second and am pleased to know significantly more this year than I did this time last year.

Two of my goals this year are related:

(1) Continue to work on Spanish in the same manner, but added to that: find a person or people to practice conversation with. The duolingo bots have their limits. I'm aiming for in-the-flesh rather than online, although with skyping, etc., I know online can be very good ... I should probably set a date by which I'll achieve this. How about the end of January...

(2) Write a bit every day. Maybe phrasing it that way will make it more achievable than saying "Write at least two days a week."

(3) This is the different goal: Read a bit every day (not counting social media). I can double-dip with this a little as I have a Spanish-language book to be working on.

I'll be looking at my friends' entries to see if they've got goals/resolutions, but if you haven't shared in an entry and want to share in comments, I'm all ears!
asakiyume: (cloud snow)
It's cold out today. I grabbed my car key in my bare hand after driving a brief way in the cold car, and it *stung* my hand. I felt like I'd been bitten or burned--I guess because the key was so cold? But I've never felt cold metal like that before. Maybe I always have gloves or mittens on? But suddenly I understood exactly what it must be like to be one of the fairy folk and touch cold iron.

a cold day

Dec. 13th, 2017 05:44 pm
asakiyume: (november birch)
I had to walk back to the house along the highway this morning, after dropping the car (the remaining car...) off for scheduled maintenance.

It was so cold, penetratingly cold, killingly cold, and windy--but it was morning, and the sun was out.


This afternoon, walking that same route back to the mechanic's, it was a race between me and darkness. The clouds were rosy when I set out, and there was incandescent golden-orange brilliance behind the supermarket. But the light was dying and the wind was fierce, and I felt *very fragile* walking against the stream of homeward-bound cars. Almost no one walks that bit of road. Where there was briefly a sidewalk, I passed a woman walking her dog. Otherwise, I had my footprints from the morning for company. Somehow, my journey felt supernatural. When I was walking, step after step, through the crusty snow, pushing aside briars and the skeletons of mugwort or goldenrod on the safe side of a crash barrier, I felt that I wasn't in the same world as the people driving in cars. I was in some huge, howling, dark world, a world of coldness that would be happy to extinguish every living thing. When I made it to the mechanic's and opened the door into that warmth, I felt staggeringly relieved.

And then I drove home. And I myself was in that nice, ordinary world that I'd been on the outside of, walking on the roadside. But I could remember it.
asakiyume: (misty trees)
The starlings over the cornfields of Hadley, Massachusetts, sometimes achieve murmuration levels--I saw them do it Saturday, them moving together like a great whale at play. It was breathtaking. I went back yesterday with a camera but came too late in the day, and then again today, and was only a *little* too late, or they weren't in a mood to all rise (ALL RISE) and swoop, and then settle.

Also, maybe if I had turned the phone sideways it would have made a wider video? I am very new to the ways of the smartphone. (Video is 38 seconds)

Although I didn't catch the murmuration yesterday, I did get a photo of the sun like a pearl in the shell of the sky...

golden sunset

And then another of all the many colors sunset sky is heir to...

red sunset
asakiyume: (cloud snow)

For some reason, birch trees like to drop their seeds in winter, and their seeds look like tiny sharp-winged birds.

Here's a birch-seed bird:

And here is a catkin, with the birds clinging to it in neat interleaved stacks--maybe fibonacci spirals; I'll have to look closer. Some of these get eaten by chickadees, but others take flight and then dive into the snow.

asakiyume: (cloud snow)

It's snowing at a rate of about three inches an hour--a ruler we have on our porch just topped 14 inches.

Our road isn't plowed yet:

Can you make out the mail truck?

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep

Pickup truck driver clears his windshield

In the time I've taken writing this, it's now at 15 inches.

ETA: 16 inches and still falling:

snow clams

Dec. 30th, 2016 07:15 pm
asakiyume: created by the ninja girl (Default)

Snow clams burrow into the snow the way other clams burrow in sand, and like other clams, they have air holes.

See them? This would be a good place to dig for snow clams, though they'd probably be tiny.

asakiyume: created by the ninja girl (Default)

There's a woman who wears an arctic fox around her neck, a live one. She goes out walking in snowstorms, and if you pass her, it's the fox that greets you, not the woman. Sometimes it says innocuous things

Some weather we're having
Stay warm
Careful; there's black ice

Other times it tells unsettling jokes with punchlines you can't understand (Did you hear about the man who lost his mind? He was a bellwether, and thirty feasted. Thirty! Hahahaha)

And other times it just makes stray remarks that may be madness or may be prophecy, and if you run to write them down, you find the words have faded, and if you try to put them from your mind, they're all that you can think, a tune with nonsense words you can't escape.

(continued, briefly)

asakiyume: (cloud snow)
Thank you, everyone, for your good wishes last entry. The healing angel is recovering quite nicely, though still with lingering joint pain. Hope that goes away for him. This week is winter vacation, so that gives him more time to recuperate without missing more school (he's already missed two weeks).

In English he's supposed to be reading The Kite Runner. Although I was pleasantly surprised by his last book, Angela's Ashes, this one is every bit as awesomely depressing as Good-for-You English-class books come. We've been reading it out loud, and to get us through the current chapter (we're still in the very early part of the book), we together created a drinking game--but with the drink being ginger ale.


The check marks represent how many times the thing in question came up (and consequently how many times we took a drink). Hassan is the narrator's childhood playmate and servant, whom the narrator treats rottenly. The narrator's got Big Regret about this as the adult telling the story, but right now we've been working up to whatever Really Terrible thing he's going to do to Hassan. Hence drinking game prompt no. 1: take a drink every time the narrator makes a dark allusion to the thing that made him what he is today.

Drinking game prompt no. 2 and no. 4 are self-explanatory. No. 3 is my shorthand for "disappointment in failing to receive his father's love"--the narrator's father is emotionally distant and not very interested in his son. Drinking game prompt no. 5, Hazaras, means take a drink every time Hazaras, the despised ethnic group that Hassan belongs to, are mentioned.

(In writing this entry I went and looked at a plot summary to see just how bad a thing we're in for. Oh. My. God.)

Let's change the subject. Here is a photo of a fire hydrant with a metal marker on it. It looks sort of like the hydrant is a child holding a balloon. If the snow gets high, the idea is that the metal marker is still visible, so (a) snowplows will be careful and (b) people will dig it out. As you can see, one of the neighbors did indeed dig it out. Thank you, civic-minded neighbor!

For a couple of years, someone or ones went around bending and twisting the markers . . . but that person (or those people) must have lost interest in that very mild form of troublemaking, because there's the marker, tall and straight.

asakiyume: (cloud snow)
I saw the blue jays' exhaled breath, rising from their nostrils, as they carried off the peanuts I put out for them. Their internal furnaces are hotter than humans', around 105F (40.5C)--more than 120 degrees hotter (in Fahrenheit) than the outside temperature, so it's no wonder it was visible in curling plumes in the cold air. Little dragons.

I blew some soap bubbles and watched them freeze. This one got caught on the snow mound, and its deflated back rose and fell and rose and fell in slight breeze, as if it, too, were breathing. A very thin-skinned, tiny being.

Now maybe you're wondering if I'll ever talk about something other than the weather. I do have other thoughts!

Press A if you would like my thoughts on Sleepy Hollow--better yet, tell me yours.
Press B if you would like some hazy realizations about writing--or share yours!
and here is one of them, the one I've been mulling over most recently )

Press C if you would like a status update on my own writing--or tell me how yours is going (or your other pleasurable creative activity, if not writing).
it's thoughts like the following that make me wonder if this project is doomed, or just different )

asakiyume: (cloud snow)
In a northern town, it's snowing again. The sun has set and the wind is up, raising dancers from the loose snow. It's very cold outside.

The children are at their father's parents' house. "Don't forget the curtain over the window on the kitchen door," Grampa Joe says.

At Grammy and Grampa's, on stormy winter nights, you make sure all the curtains are drawn and the shades are pulled down, eyelids closing against what's out there.

At Mémé and Pépé's house, it's the opposite. "Look at this snow. Better leave the shades up," Mémé would say. A beacon, a sign of safe haven.

When the wind howls and the snow flies, do you pull the shutters closed or leave them open, light streaming out? The town is divided on this point.

There are tales of travelers, disoriented in the white-out winds, saved by a friendly light. Some of those who gratefully drink down soup and collapse exhausted into an offered bed, will, for the gift of hospitality, leave gold coins and other rare treasures on the pillow for their hosts to find, come sunrise, when they themselves have vanished.

But there are other tales, of wild and merciless things, drawn by a naive light, who come to the door . . . don't let them in. Whatever you do! Did you let them in? Suddenly the blizzard is within the house--the wind and snow devils, whirling, and theiron cold. In the morning such a house will be found, the doors open, the snow drifting in and through it, rime on every wall, the inhabitants perished.

The children are at their father's parents house. They draw the curtains, including the curtain over the window on the kitchen door, and listen behind the house's closed eyes to the invisible wind and wild snow.

asakiyume: (cloud snow)
The snow's between two and three feet high on the ground, which means it's not easy to walk through without snow pants, which means you're confined to roads. I like walking on the snowmobile trails, but it's a matter of getting there ...

So I shoveled a path--the path I'd normally take--from my neighborhood road to the snowmobile trail.

It is a thing of beauty! Behold, its entrance:

Unfortunately, the snow plow, in widening the road, knocked snow into it...

But I brought my shovel as well as my camera. There. That's better!

following the path my handiwork has carved... )

At last, it meets the snowmobile trail, which looks like a regular highway by comparison:

And now I can walk in the woods without snow pants, AND I can walk into town along the snowmobile path.

asakiyume: (cloud snow)
We know this is a water world, three-fourths covered in water, and we know the waters can drink up more land--rains can cause rivers to lap up flood plains, climate change can make oceans gulp down shores. And in winter, in the north, dry land becomes flooded, and the floodwaters stand. Right now my world is covered in nearly three feet of water--in the form of snow. And Boston is flooded by some six feet and more.

Here are some more photos of the waves....

snow waves

thin ledge of snow

snow curves

asakiyume: (cloud snow)

Here's the toboggan run from two-thirds of the way down, looking up at the top.

And here is the remaining bit, heading into the swamp:

Wakanomori and I went down this lots of times this afternoon. His dream is to have the path lead eventually to the apartments on the other side of the swamp. ... I don't think we can get enough momentum to travel that far, but I like how far we do travel.

asakiyume: (cloud snow)

Ed Ou: The North

I've been wanting to share the amazing photo essays of Ed Ou--in particular, one of life in Nunavut. Never have I felt I got to know life in a distant place so well merely from pictures as I did from looking through this collection. Warning: There are scenes of hunting and its aftermath in this--which is part of life in Nunavut--so don't go to the link if that will upset you.

Ed Ou: The North

Ed Ou: The North

The choices Ed made in who to photograph, and where, really give such a whole, compassionate, intimate picture of life in the Arctic. I loved them. And we're having our own Nunavut-like temperatures here this weekend, so--well, it's a tenuous sort of connection, but a connection.

Here's my own photo of our bright star, caught in the trees and not conveying much warmth this morning

Rhysling nomination

I was so moved and touched to receive a Rhysling nomination for my poem "The Peal Divers." It's been so long since I wrote poetry--that was one poem that came to me in the midst of my poetry desert. With just one poem to my name in 2014, it never occurred to me to even consider awards. And yet someone, some member of the SFPA, remembered it and nominated it. I'm humbled and grateful.

Pop Sonnets recasts pop lyrics as sonnets. Very fun. Here's "Baby Got Back."

asakiyume: (cloud snow)

I went walking at dusk yesterday. The train whistle was sounding nearby. Clear the roads, clear the tracks, coming through. Coming through slowly. It was the Connecticut and Southern. I stepped off the trail and watched them go by--this pack was driven by slim young guys (sometimes it's fathers and young kids--but those packs are usually diurnal and travel on weekends) in complete snowmobile suits that made them look like Power Rangers. They waved as they went by, and I waved back, and thought of snowmobile legends.

Not my snowmobilers--these ones hail from Buffalo--but very like them.(Source)

Snowmobile Legends

Snowmobiler and Snow Woman

A beautiful young woman, wearing a white parka trimmed with white fur and a white knitted cap, is standing at the edge of the trail, watching the snowmobiles go by, and one stops, and the driver says, "Want a ride?" She smiles brightly and says "I'd love one!" And she gets on and wraps her winter-cold arms around the driver, and they go speeding through the woods. When at last, chilled to the bone, the driver stops and turns to ask if maybe she'd like to join him at the diner for some coffee, he finds there's no one there--just a drift of snow.

Fisher-Cat Selkie Snowmobiler

She snowmobiles down all the trails, searching out good-looking guys--maybe they're hunters, or maybe they're cutting wood, or maybe they're snowshoers. Or maybe they're just walking along the trail because they've lent their car to a friend and this is a shortcut home.

Anyway. She pulls up alongside and asks if they want a ride. She's got glinting black mustelid eyes and a knowing smile, and whatever guy she asks hops on willingly, and after zooming over snowy fields and across frozen ponds and streams, she asks her passenger if he'd like to come back to her place. She feeds him porcupine stew and leads him to her bed, which is covered by a blanket of stitched rabbit skins, and they exhaust themselves in lovemaking.

. . . And she doesn't eat him, and he doesn't find her fisher cat skin and steal it. No: she drives him back to town along the trails as the sun is rising the next morning.

"Maybe we can get together again sometime," he says, desperate and ardent, and she nods and says, "Yeah, maybe so," but it has never yet happened. She is always on the prowl for someone new.

Snowmobile highwaymen
In the winter of 1981, there were a string of thefts of convenience stores in northern New York and Vermont, and across the border in Quebec. The convenience stores were all near well-traveled snowmobile trails. The thieves would tie up the cashier and any hapless patrons or other staff, and make off on foot with rolls of scratch tickets and the contents of the cash register. They'd head straight for the snowmobile trail, and when a pack of no more than two or three snowmobiles came by, one member of the gang would flag them down. When they stopped, the other members of the gang would appear, guns in hand, push the riders from their seats, and commandeer the snowmobiles. Many miles later, presumably near their hideout, the thieves would jump off, sending the snowmobiles on, riderless, with a cord wrapped round the throttle to keep it down.

They were never caught.


asakiyume: created by the ninja girl (Default)

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