Wednesday, November 27, 2013


First snow finds me baking pumpkin pies from my first pumpkin harvest here in the cove, rendering a sample batch of deer tallow, watching does forage snowy brush and Chinese herbs from my kitchen window, and marvelling my most recent significant accomplishment.

First, the pies. The variety used was "Long Island Cheese," a small-medium sized flattish tan-colored eating pumpkin. These actually did better than my butternuts this year, for some reason. The yield wasn't extremely high, but enough for me to eat on through the winter, and satisfactory for something that I just plugged in little starts of in gaps in the herb beds as an afterthought. The pies they produce are delicious. I know this because I have made 9 this week, and had enough left over to make a miniature in a ramekin and taste of it.
The tallow rendered nicely- yielding a half cup from the scraps I scraped off of a deer hide I recently cleaned up. The color was an amber when liquid and a creamy white as a solid. The smell is rather gamey, and I am unsure as to whether I will be able to tolerate it as a base of a balsam poplar bud salve I want to make with it.

pumpkin pies with tiny jar of deer tallow

Now for the recent accomplishment: Monday of this week I planted my gingko tree in the yard. This in and of itself is nothing noteworthy, as the hole was not particularly difficult to dig, and I plant trees regularly enough for the task to feel somewhat commonplace. However, it is the transferrence of the plant into the ground from its home in the pot where the accomplishment lies. It is an arrival of sorts. A benchmark no doubt. You see, I have had the gingko tree in a pot for 15 years.
I purchased the wee seedling from one Mr. Eidus for $5 back in 1998. I just couldn't pass the little guy (or gal) up- with its commanding singular presence in its very own division of organisms- its ancient DNA gracing our modern existence with ancestral dreamings and beauty of by-gone eras. I knew that it was less than ideal to purchase a tree as a transient youngster in my early 20s, but I remember thinking, 'I will probably have my own land in about 3 years, 5 at the most, and I can take good care of a tree in a pot for that long.'

Fifteen years, 8 moves, a few thousand cookies and about 500 gallons of Barry's Tea later, here we are, the gingko and me, with a piece of earth and a sweet cold spring to call home. I planted the tree in front of the western corner of the house, where its lovliness can be showcased, it has ample room to grow, and maybe someday in 15 more years, if we are both still here, he or she can shade me and my living room from the hot afternoon summer sun. What a thought. Just as I had absolutely no clue as to how the past 15 years would unfold at the time I first met the gingko, I realize now as I step into the next 15 that I am just as clueless as to what is to come. You just never know what is going to happen. Ever.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


Picks of the day: my fine, fine sister and honey locust seed pods.

The combination of the two: a daylight savings jam session in the sun to the Jackson Five's Rockin Robin, using bean pods as shakers.

Rating: A++

Saturday, November 2, 2013


Noon on Wednesday the 30th of October found me neck deep in the hot mineral water of Tub 8 down at the Hot Springs spa, overlooking the cold running water of Spring Creek. I was spending the day with my sister, and as she had a little bit of a minor cold, we bypassed the notion of venturing out into the warm woods for a hike and opted, rather, to soak in the healing waters of the town's namesake.

The sun was about as high as it gets this time of year, which is still angled sideways in the southern portion of the sky. Our tub was nestled in amongst a grove of naturalized clerodendron trees, the top halves of which were brown and frost-killed, but the lower halves of which were still adorned with the magnificent, jewel-like fruit pods- fushia petals encasing a bright blue berry. Oh, the plants China comes up with! Spring Creek ambled by, with its bone-chilling waters descended from the generous contributions of Meadowfork, Little Creek, Long Branch, Panther Branch, Roaring Fork, Hopis Branch, Baltimore Branch, Caldwell Branch, Woolyshot Branch, Puncheon Camp and numerous other tributaries. Squirrels comfortably foraged an array of nutritious wild fare- hickory nuts, walnuts, mushrooms. The bright mid-day light trickled through neon filters- bright yellow hickory leaves, popping amarantine sourwood, firey sugar maple and green gold beech. The hickory leaves, their yellow more yellowy than anything I can describe, flittered and hovered around in mid-air over the creek in the warm breeze, milking every last glorious moment before settling on the surface of the cold, flowing water- Tennessee bound.

The intensity of the colors was beyond the mind's comprehension, and the warmth of air, light and breeze in tandem with the hot soothing mineral water tempered the tensions of the mind and body and caused my eyes to relax. Squirrels chirped. The waters flowed. I knew J and I were sitting in Tub 8 at the very peak hour of this year's Fall.

Rachel says that when you are in the peak of Fall, you know it without a doubt. You know it like you know someone will die within the hour. There is no wondering "is this peak?" It is undeniable. Glorious. Momentary. The icon of impermanence. It is like the sweet last breath of Life before Death. And like Rachel says, how can you not notice the last breath?