Take Two Pine Cones and Call Me in the Morning


Our prescription for an easy fire is this: just toss a couple of cones under the kindling. Then, if you must, use a match. But if you have time, wait for the resin to ignite from last night’s coals.

It has been a good year for the pines on Goose Creek. Not only have they produced a copious supply of cones (and the released seeds our chickens forage for under them) but good for us–the woody “leaves” of the cone this year are heavy with highly-flammable resin.

We have, next to the kindling basket beside the big woodstove in the front room, another, heaped high with cones arranged in a towering spiral, a cone itself, ready for all the fires to come.

Winter is soon upon us in full force. We are ready.


Animated: The Spirit of Life


The mechanics: This shot came from the parking lot of Huffville Methodist Church and was a still capture from a 15 second video inspired by the beauty of racing fingers of wind across the tall grasses. This dance between Earth and Air is one of my favorite visuals from this time of year.

The take-home: My first impulse was to describe this to myself as the “animation of the grasses.” And from that, I could easily follow the crumbs of this ancient Greek then Latin-derived word into all sorts of enjoyable and edifying webs of thought.

From Latin anima ‎(“a current of air, wind, air, breath, the vital principle, life, soul”), sometimes equivalent to animus ‎(“mind”), both from Proto-Indo-European *ane- ‎(“to breathe, blow”); see animus. Cognate with Ancient Greek άνεμος ‎(ánemos, “wind”), Old English anda ‎(“anger, envy, zeal”)


So a tidbit for you ANI-MALS (literally “spirited creatures?”) for your personal consideration this morning. Pay especial notice of the soft -edged fields of Floyd County this week as temperatures become spring-like. Again. The mowing has already begun in some places and pastures will soon become “inanimate”–at least in this special way that makes them come alive, if we bother to notice.

Deep Freeze February

Click to embiggen. Don’t you love that word? It entered the language via media and space—the Simpsons and string theory. You’re welcome.

So I was too late over to free the bridge, and won’t try again until next week’s thaw and flood melt.

Doesn’t look like so much volume of precip expected now from a complicated mix on Monday and Tuesday.

Do embiggen, and pay attention to the many tiny dots over the ice. Those are flying  droplets of water created  from the turbulence of water flow against rocks.

It is this airborne moisture that freezes first against the rock and then, creating even more froth as the rock grows icy, the frozen lacy cruft of ice grows more than a foot thick. It will persist even after the water level drops, suspended over the water like the ceiling of a crystal cathedral.

I’ll hope for some more “things that water does” images in the days to come. Except maybe not tomorrow, when chill factor will register a dozen or more degrees below zero. I’m just not that dedicated a photog. Doug  Thompson, get out there and take over.

NOTE: the pup is Feather, a 4 yr old labradoodle. She belongs down the road, legally. We tell folks we have a 22-7 dog (Gandy) and Feather who is our 22-7 grand-dog. They are such good buddies. Except in winter.

Gandy is a mix predominated by Rhodesian Ridgeback. She justifies her reluctance to stay out very long to play with her friend when it is this cold by telling us that winters are not like this in Rhodesia, even though they may be in Labrador. So just get off her back!

Over Icy If Not Troubled Waters

Slippery Slope of Winter


It was a three-dog night. We came up one short. But there will be other opportunities yet to get up after midnight and throw an extra piece of oak on a fire that, despite its good intentions, is not quite equal to the task of keeping Herself warm til morning.

This weekend’s cold will be a glancing blow compared to the persistent “polar vortices” of the past two winters. There is that.

But it sets the stage for Monday’s sour-grapes smack on the cheek to love-dovey snuggles of Valentines. Check it out on the Weather Channel. This one looks likely to bring our first significant threat of ice. Doh!

Weather Underground is calling for 8-12 inches Monday–of ice pellets. Hunker down, homies.

And reminder to self: pull the board Sunday afternoon before it gets frozen in place with melt-flood waters flowing over it. How many times have we retrieved this plank from some distance closer than our creek crossing to the Atlantic? We’ve been lucky.

Currier and Ivy-er


Every winter, I hear it: “Take some pictures of the house.”

She says it lightly, as if doing the Dr. Zivago across the whited planes, putting face and hands at frost-bite risk, standing stark still in the single-digit morning light was the most casual touristy snapshot.

So here’s the image from Winter ’15-16. Currier and Ives, eat your heart out. Here is our “Old Farm House.” Click the image above to enlarge; detail matters.