Tag Archive | juniper

Warmer Days

Suddenly this week the pond has thawed, revealing goldfish still thriving underneath. Amy the Fish still lives! She and her three surviving cohorts are at least four, maybe five years old, and have filled the pond with their progeny.

Suddenly this week the pond has thawed, revealing goldfish still thriving underneath. Amy the Fish still lives! She and her three surviving cohorts are at least four, maybe five years old, and have filled the pond with their progeny.

A few rays of sunlight through the darkling clouds, a wedge of blue sky behind wispies. We’ve all been grateful for the precipitation that’s come this winter, both here and in the high country. It bodes well for our next growing season. But I think I speak for everyone when I say Welcome! to the first glimpse of our mother star in what seems like at least a month.

Elk browse the junipers and winterfat right outside the yard fence.

Elk browse the junipers and winterfat right outside the yard fence.

Ice Canyon freezes and melts with this oddly fluctuating winter.

Ice Canyon freezes and melts with this oddly fluctuating winter.

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Today I walked all the way to the canyon by myself, with the dogs of course,  and with ski poles, for the first time in two weeks. Yesterday I walked there with a friend, and the day before took the dogs halfway. At the beginning of the week I tried, and could only make it a few steps past the gate, but I let the dogs run loose in the woods for awhile because they desperately needed the exercise.

My next try, on Friday, I walked through slush to the first chair, the dogs so good they wouldn’t go farther without me. To get them more exercise I continued a few steps on, but still they stuck with me better than average. A few steps more, I rounded the first corner downhill and found the kindness and compassion banner, strips of cotton, ribbon and paint made by a friend long ago, that had hung at the house for fifteen years until it was faded, bedraggled; I finally hung it in a tree in the woods last year. Whether nibbled by elk or shredded by weather it now lay in tatters on the ground, just the top few inches still intact. I brought it home and lay it in the compost bin, ashes to ashes.

The next day, when my friend showed up to walk, she brought a rainbow streamer, an accidental replacement, which we hung on the same twig where the banner gave up the ghost. It’s the little things that make my day.

The next day, when my friend showed up to walk, she brought a rainbow streamer, an accidental replacement, which we hung on the same twig where the banner gave up the ghost. It’s the little things that make my day.

Two weeks ago I woke up dizzy. After several dark days where I could barely open my eyes or leave the bed, I saw a few doctors, took a few supplements, and it began to improve incrementally after a week. Apparently it’s a virus that comes around every few years, and several others in the community are suffering with it as well. If you’re ever inclined to hurl a curse at someone, wishing them dizzy would be a wicked one.

Friday night, two other friends generously hosted a Love-In for Valentine’s Day, which went over well with a bunch of us both with and without sweethearts. It was a great equalizer and the party was full of love, warm red decor, and delicious food. Old friends were reunited, new friends were made. One couple even brought flowers for our hair. A day that began in dark separation concluded in bright togetherness.

So many of them do.

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Gordon grazes at the hors d'oeuvres table.

Gordon grazes at the hors d’oeuvres table.

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Saturday, November 16, 2013

Bees flying in and out of the hive on an extra warm day last week show up as golden specks against the still-green rosebush.

Bees flying in and out of the hive on an extra warm day last week show up as golden specks against the still-green rosebush.

I’m glad I got the beehive all set during October, with insulation panels and straw bales around the pedestal. Working early on a few cold mornings I was able to get the panels on and the straw bales situated without disturbing anyone. We had such a mild, long, lovely autumn! The colors in Buck Canyon, the Smith Fork, and along the North Fork seemed to last longer than usual and shine more brightly. Did I say that last fall? Each fall is such a delicious season, each fall unique; each fall a new and wondrous season unfolding like you’ve never seen it before, feeling so like the first fall you can’t remember another; each fall a treasure, maybe the last fall ever.

Rocky on the rim of Buck Canyon two weeks ago.

Rocky on the rim of Buck Canyon two weeks ago.

Stellar surveys hid domain.

Stellar surveys his domain.

At a leisurely pace, I have been cleaning up the yard for winter, which is almost here. Light snow overnight here, still falling in a haze over the mountains. Not a lot of cover up there, just a freshening of the white blush that’s remained since our last snow weeks ago. All the trees have lost their leaves, except the almond, oddly green. But they’re fading fast. Planted on the southeast corner of the house, its microclimate, backed by an adobe wall that soaks up sun from early morning til late, mulched with pink gravel, and edged on two sides with brick and concrete, allows it extra warmth.

One of my favorite junipers on the rim, with Needle Rock and snow-covered Coal Mountain far beyond.

One of my favorite junipers on the rim, with Needle Rock and snow-covered Coal Mountain far beyond.

A walk in the woods the other day captures the spirit of impending winter.

A walk in the woods the other day captures the spirit of impending winter.

Stellar in the Sitting Tree

Stellar in the Sitting Tree

The first icicles form and fall in Ice Canyon. Raven watches, flummoxed by the sound of their crashing down.

The first icicles form and fall in Ice Canyon. Raven watches, flummoxed by the sound of their crashing down.

A sharp wind blows this morning. I continue to revel in all the deciduous leaves that flutter and clutter the paths, the beds, the yard. It’s been so long since I’ve had autumn leaves to enjoy, their colors first, then their scents and sounds. The giant rose is dropping yellow leaves everywhere around the tower. Beech and aspen, elder, nanking cherry, snowberry have all now lost or are losing their leaves, their baring branches showing this summer’s growth. This cold, drizzly day foreshadows winter. Already I’ve settled into hibernation mode. Such early dark brings closure to the day with so many hours left to stay awake. A time of deep interior begins.

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This winter I am writing the book that has been in me since I completed Killing Mother. I continue to delve into the love and disillusionment between my parents, in hopes of understanding all of us better. Reflecting on their lives and histories before I knew them, and exploring who we all were, in that military culture, as I grew from a bright-eyed happy child into the woman I am today. But, it’s a novel, so I can make shit up. I’m participating in NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, to jump start this story that has been murmuring in the back of my mind for years. By November 30, I need to have written 50,000 words, more or less in a rough draft form. As of this morning, I’m up to 20,963; not quite halfway there and just over halfway in time.

Monday, Stung

Checking the comb this morning I became alarmed at how fast they’ve reached the back, and decided to just do it, right now, harvest that one comb.

Despite how busy they were, and that it was already quite warm, I did not wear the bee hat because the jacket it zips to is in storage. I figured the bees know me by now…

Last night I played with some of the flash options on Hipstamatic.

I am not Corwin Bell. I knew that, of course, but I thought maybe I’d be calm and collected enough with the bees that I could get away with rubber bands around my pants ankles, and glasses so I could see what I was doing. Removal of the roof went well. Removal of the spacer between top bars went well, using the hive tool to pry the ends and scrape the propolis between the spacer and the back bar. I pulled up the back bar first, knowing there was only a partial comb on it, so I could see what the next to last bar looked like. Then things fell apart. Literally. As I endeavored to set the bar down upside down, the comb, warm, pliable, flopped to one side, alarming the bees. One, Bitey Bee, got caught under my glasses rim, so I set everything down and pulled my glasses off, but too late. One sting. I calmly hurried inside, scraping the site with my fingernail to remove the stinger, and applied Prid drawing salve. I came back with tongs to pick up the dropped comb, covered with bees, and set it in the bowl I’d brought for my harvest. I’d also pulled my hat off as I went inside, and forgot to put it back on, so my hair was falling in a mess; as I tried to put the bar back another bee tangled in the back of my hair, so again I calmly hurried away. Stingbee’s buzzing got more and more frantic as she burrowed deeper into my hair, as I tried to shake and sweep her out. Sting two. More Prid, in my hair. After being chased away two more times (calmly) without getting stung, I finally got the bar back in place and the flat roof on without further incident.

I left the glistening piece of comb in the bowl so the bees could take their time leaving it. I wasn’t a complete idiot about it. I did call three friends to try to get backup before I started this escapade. Luckily for my pride none were available. But after all was said and done, Cynthia called back to see if I still needed help, so she got to share in the tiny, sweet, taste of honey.

First, and accidental, harvest of honeycomb.

Not quite honey but almost, the nectar is thickened but not yet capped. We snipped off the tip and shared it, yum yum yum, chewing the wax like gum, like when we were kids.

A drop of perfection.

I immediately went online to http://www.backyardhive.com to order a full suit and some fine mesh for straining. Chalk this one up to a lesson learned, and try again in a few days with proper protection. What was I thinking? At least I bought some time; I may have a week before they start to glue their comb to the back wall.

Other harvests have been more successful. Green and pink cherry tomatoes from my vines, and a chocolate pepper; yellow peppers and red cherry tomatoes from Ruth’s fabulous garden, and a Palisade peach from the market. All in the wooden bowl the Colonel carved by hand forty years ago.

The fava beans are growing thick and tall, and full of blooms!

Mirabilis multiflora at the end of the turtle pen has expanded to cover the path. When they die back in autumn they form a brittle, featherweight skeleton; I’ve been scattering these skeletons around under junipers in the yard, and three or four have grown from seed under several trees.

So a few small successes to counter my humbling bee fiasco, and now for a lunch of fresh ripe tomatoes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday June 21st, two thousand and twelve, six forty-five p.m.

Delicious Orchard trees dripping with cherries.

Jojo picking cherries at Delicious Orchard

News is over, nothing much about the High Park fire. Jo’s here from Gold Hill; her house was surrounded by the Four Mile fire and survived. Half her garden burned and half withered. This High Park fire has her empathy stirred up.

Starting with the bees, they seem pleased, as usual. Long hot days let them play out late. Five to one coming in, I’d guess. Daylilies glow in late sun. It is the next longest day in the year. Darkness creeps incrementally into our lives. Dogs howl the announcement, someone is haying; there is an unknown grumbling  in the field southwest of the trees. The tractor mows concentric squares.

From the front gate, after ascertaining the noise was no threat, we all three walk north toward the plum bed at the head of the berm, which has evolved itself nicely after an initial planting years ago. Salvia, ricegrass, lavender cotton thrive, blue fescue, perennial sunflower with enough water doesn’t look so ratty, rogue russian sage sprigs spring up in a wide random spread.

Ganesha greets guests in the spring bed.

The spring bed has lasted well into summer, unto solstice, with plenty of  supplemental snowmelt. Colors and textures expand and interweave.

Garter snake and goldfish in the north pond.

The Ancient One on a dusk walk to the rim.