Monday, November 25, 2013


Thanksgiving looms. I'm getting ready to head out for a three-store groceries and incidentals run to Meijer's, Sam's, and Tractor Supply. Several hours of traffic, parking lots, and retail insanity to insure everyone who shares our holiday meal on Thursday—people, pooches, and those feathered feeder guests dropping by outdoors—will feel warmly welcomed and be abundantly fed.

I love doing this, providing and preparing these annual feasts. Depending on who has to go where for a particular holiday on a given year within the interconnected family circles, we may have a dozen, or only the two of us at the table—though others might make the rounds and drop by later on. No matter. In my experience, two—the right two, anyway—can celebrate and feast as well as twenty, if perhaps less noisily. 

Regardless of how many or how few are expected, I don't par down the menu, only the quantity of food—and often not all that much. The way I view a twenty pound turkey is not as ridiculously excessive for two…merely as having the potential to afford a bonus of delicious leftovers for meals ahead. Therefore, all the venerated dishes, the laden table's familiar tasty touchstones, are fixed and served, brought out to play their parts. I side with Irving's old Squire of Bracebridge Hall when it comes to the keeping of traditions.

Finally, in case you're wondering, the photo above was made this morning, not long after sunup. The temperature was 18˚F. As you can see, except for a bit of green honeysuckle, the riverside is looking decidedly wintry, though there's little ice yet on even the slowest-moving pools. 

Friday, November 22, 2013


Yes, indeed, that's a forsythia, in bloom, in my yard, today. Honest! Southwestern-Ohio, a week before Thanksgiving! An entire head-high bush bedecked in bright yellow flowers. And looking about as out of place as a nudist at a Baptist pie-social. 

In case you're wondering, when I snapped this mid-afternoon portrait, the temperature under a dim, dirty-wool November sky, was a chilly 41˚F, though the wind and dampness made it feel more like the low-30˚s.

I have no idea what prompted such an unseasonable action. Temperatures lately have been up and down, but no more than during most such late-autumn periods. We've had nights in the upper-20˚s, too, several frosts, and one light snow that lingered a day or so on the ground. Our woodstove has been going, day and night—when I remembered to feed in another log—for the most part of several weeks. 

Moreover, my forsythias are decidedly not of a jump-the-gun disposition. They are always laggards, the last around to bloom. Each spring, when other area forsythias are heralding the season with their jaunty golden boughs, mine are huddled beside the driveway like clumps of dead sticks. Embarrassing. Sometimes to the point that, in a fit of pique, I stomp out and threaten them: If you continue acting this way, I swear I'll prune you so low you'll look like a ground cover!  

Of course my commination has absolutely no effect. They might bloom the next day…or the next week, but not until the spirit moves them. Which it has obviously done recently.

So what's next? Lilacs for Christmas?          

Saturday, November 16, 2013


In the myth-world of the Ojibway, Michabo was the Great Spirit, grandson of the Moon and son of the West Wind—a beneficent culture hero, inventor and creator, bringer of day and light. Come November, before taking his long winter's sleep, it was said Michabo filled his pipe for a final smoke, puffing out those clouds which rise to fill the autumn air with the haze we recognize as one of the characteristics of the period we call Indian Summer.

Next week's weather is supposed to be in the 60s˚F. Whether this qualifies as true Indian Summer, a second Indian Summer, or just a late-autumn warm spell is a debate I'll leave for another time. But whatever the final call on that question, when Moon-the-Dog and I stepped outside for a final short amble before turning to our beds late yesterday evening, there was no doubt of a warming trend already underway, or a night sky filled with misty haze and scudding clouds.

An all-but-full moon hung high in the dark sky above the sycamores; the fabled Beaver Moon of the Algonquin tribes. A reddish-tinged moon, glowing bright, surrounded by a swirling gauze of clouds which caught and diffused the light, refracting its pale colors into irregular surrounding bands of blue and gold and orange.

A lovely November moon of wonder and mystery…as timeless as land and season and ancient stories told round a warming fire, when winds soughed softly in the pines and Orion's Great Bear began making his was down from the dark night sky to wash his paws in the cold waters of Gitche Gumee's inland sea. 

The Moon of Michabo.

[ The image above is the best of several attempts to capture last night's marvelous moon on digital. Alas, my photo is not all that great, though it's the best of the lot. I had to resort to a high ISO 3200. The shot also fails to show the intensity and full halo effect of the colors. I just hope it gives you some idea of what I saw. ]             

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


We were treated to our first snow last night. Not merely a skift, either, but what folks I grew up among would call a tracking snow. Meaning enough snow down that a hunter could follow the tell-tale tracks of his intended prey, be it bunny or buck. A real boon when you're hunting to put food on the table.

However, a tracking snow can also be employed by those who simply want to follow the marks and learn more about the nighttime peregrinations of a gray fox on the prowl, or clear up the mystery of who's been recently using a particular den hole or hollow tree. Tracking snows are like pages to be read and deciphered—both map and text, waiting to expose hidden lives and reveal uncountable insights and secrets.

This inaugural snowfall won't last long. Not with this morning's bright sun, plus the fact there's still more than five weeks to go before autumn runs its course. Last night's white dressing was just a prelude, an intimation of things to come…delightful or depressing, depending on your feelings regarding winter.

I'm of the first camp. I like winter—all the icy, snowy, blowy, chilly, wind-howling, sleet-pinging-off-the-windowpanes whiteness. No, I'm not a masochist. Just a fellow with a boreal streak in his DNA. And right now, I couldn't be happier!

Sunday, November 10, 2013


I didn't sleep well or much last night. As a result, I've felt tired all day, lacking in energy and desire, useless, though there were certainly chores aplenty that needed doing. The best I managed was to run a few necessary errands late this afternoon. 

I got home intending to put on some music, have a bite to eat, kick back by the fire, and read awhile before turning in early. The day had been pretty enough, if a bit on the chilly side. Sunny, a bright blue sky with puffy white clouds. Now twilight was fast claiming the land. Soon my riverbank world would be in deep shadow—and not long after that, full dark.

Then I looked up and saw the waxing half moon all tangled up in the high top of the big sycamore tree at the end of the drive. That could make a picture, I thought—an idea which meant I'd have to go inside, dig out my camera, return and make the shot. 

Thirty feet each way, and, oh, maybe thirty seconds of very slight effort. Hummm… 

At which point I remembered my iPhone's camera. A device which resided in my shirt pocket. Sometimes the lazy road is a road worth taking. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


I've just edited and sent off a column which I wrote this morning—a piece on November. I know I'm in the minority here, but I love November, counting it among my favorite months. And no, I don't expect my column will sway many hearts. 

Between the writing and the sending I made a brief trip, driving a few miles to the village where Myladylove works. She's shorthanded on employees today and couldn't get out for lunch, so I took her a sandwich and soft drink which I purchased along the way. After that I stopped at the grocery for a few things before returning home.

The photo above was taken just up the road—snapped between wiper swipes through the truck's windshield via my iPhone. As you can see, it's raining here—a damp, dim day, but at 60˚F, quite mild for the season. Some color remains; a fair bit of green, too, though a lot of that is, alas, honeysuckle. Moreover, what you see is about as good as it ever got this year—golds and yellows and rusty-browns, a few oranges, and even fewer reds. Not as spectacular as usual, but still pretty. 

My yard is awash in sycamore leaves, some the size of dinner plates. A few are still clinging to the trees. I'll probably wait to start raking.