Tuesday, December 14, 2010

sun low in the sky casts deep shadows and more

In small ways or large, life is beautiful here daily. Mother Nature offers a continual feast. This past weekend she has provided our first visions of spectacular snow art dazzling at every window, and some remarkable drifts in this the driftless area of Wisconsin!

It is often breezy up on our ridge, and at times enough to rock the house. There are bells hanging over the lower deck from the trim of the upper story and they often sway and peal out frenetic rhythms. Whole sections of fencing have needed repair. Screens have been pulled out of their window frames. We recently lost the candy-cane striped cushion that had been tied to Anne's red metal loveseat on the front porch. I've seen leaves and corn husk remains and blowing snow move across the meadows and fields surrounding us. Holden was once blown off the road while we were walking him despite the wind storm in October that broke a record here for the lowest barometer reading ever. But even knowing the winds are at work I had not anticipated nor even imagined the visual delights of the sculptress that is Mother Nature.  There are enormous mounds in places and fragile layers in others. We've been blessed to have clear skies and merely moderate breezes following the storm's departure. The sun shines at deep angles, as it moves low across the southern sky just days before winter solstice allowing subtle shadows to become visible in the white on white tapestry. And on the snow's surface tiny rainbows of color wink at you in the sunlight.

It's also been cold! Last night the coldest yet. Knowing the early morning hours of December 14th offered the best viewing of the Geminid storm, Anne and I were peering out the windows before dawn. Not brave enough to wrap up and stand outside on the upper deck as I had earlier boasted I would do, this wimp was rewarded even so. I was lucky enough to spot 2 "falling stars" through my western bedroom window. With little light pollution here the night sky staggers the mind. (I really mean this, as I cannot comprehend it all!) Last night when I turned off the reading lamp the half moon and Jupiter were traveling along companionably just above the cafe curtain in my bedroom. This pre-dawn Venus was singing an aria gowned in liquid silver just outside the bathroom curtains.
Our sunsets can be almost too beautiful to describe. But our sunrises could be called visible chi. This morning the colors along the horizon just before sunbreak reminded me of a scarf drawn protectively around one's throat. Soft tangerine tinged with terra cotta along the woolen grey at ground level, softening marine blue above. Twice each day, just before and just after the sun's power overcomes the eyes, there is the briefest moment in which you can literally inhale Creation's healing energy, all the more powerful for its brevity. Since moving to the farm I have found it impossible to ignore these benedictions.

Just now I paused to look out the sewing/computer room French doors and noticed four large deer running swiftly along our western meadow, heading for the protection of the trees across our road. These are the first I've seen since the hunting season. I read that over 200,000 were taken in Wisconsin alone this fall. Just imagine their total numbers! We've seen their footprints, and those of other wildlife, since the snows. Fun to find their calling cards each morning. We've trapped 18 mice so far, and know there will be more since we have put out so much food for the birds. I am not in the least troubled by mice outside, just as long as they stay out there!  There are still shield bugs and Asian beetles that find themselves alive, awake, and on the move every once in a while across the floors or our sewing tables, or some other place of surprise. We've become more relaxed about the various company we find sharing this old farmhouse. Of course I never tire of the birds.
Yesterday there was a pair of these beautiful woodpeckers, but I wasn't fast enough to get a clear photo. This shot, however, delights me, as so many of the birds are willing to wait their turns for a chance at the fruit and nut cakes.

The table is always set. Remember to partake of the banquet.
And so another morning has flown and I must move along to projects waiting.


  1. Sharon, what lovely images in your reflections on life on the farm, and what wonderful photos to enrich the soul. You take all of your experiences at Asbury Ridge in, and then share them so wonderfully on your blog. I feel like I am right there with you.

  2. Wow, thats a whole lot more snow than we have here! I am so excited to see you have a variety of birds there that you're feeding! Stefan would be impressed!!! We have Junco's and a Red bellied woodpecker also! (The red bellied is my favorite!). He comes for the black oil sunflower seed and pretty much has ignored our suet. But it seems he/her is fond of yours.
    Your winters there seem so far a whole lot harsher then ours. The fence may need repair, but it sure ad's a lot to the scenery, I love it!
    I also love your new Banner for winter up top. So have you and Anne had your craft day with the friend of yours yet? Would love to see all you have been working on! And BTW Anne's Dutch Babies are now a new staple to our house!

    Look forward to your next post!

  3. Sharon,
    I've reread this post a few times and just love your almost poetic descriptions of the beautiful force of nature that surrounds you. You are so much in tune with, and appreciative of, the landscape and wildlife of your new home, I'm just happy to be able to read your impressions and imagine being there.

  4. Looks beautiful! It was cloudy here, but did you guys get a peak at the eclipse last night??