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Happy Feast of Brigid

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Or Groundhog Day, or Candlemas, as you prefer.  The sun has made a good strong start on its trip north (yes, I know it is really the earth’s axis that makes the difference, but we all know what it feels like.)  At this cross quarter day we complete the darkest quarter of the year in the northern hemisphere.  The sun doesn’t know it is still winter. P1000705

Pansies in their pot have been holding on through some quite cold mornings.  I hope they survive what is still to come and begin to fill out soon.

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Getting to work in the front courtyard, my would-be herb garden, I had a nice surprise.  For the first time ever I have a field of little parsley plants.  This is the result of not being prompt at cutting down the seed heads, but it also required a certain mix of moisture over which I had no control.  I hope these too survive any cold spells still to come.  Surely there won’t be many more, but the worst freeze we’ve had in our years here came at the beginning of February one year.

On cold days it’s nice to light a candle in honor of Brigid, patroness of fire, among other things.

 

Winter Walk

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After the big snow there seemed to be more gray days than usual for our area.  But some days the sun shone, and such bright winter days are the best days for walks in nature.  These photos come from a recent walk on the Sierra Vista Trail. ocotillo

The desert has a rather muted palette in winter, and there are plenty of dry branches.  I’d like to learn more about photographing, close up, their complex intercrossings.twigs697

Some of the plants are looking very healthy, thanks to the extra moisture this year.prickly pear

The prickly pear above is in better shape than average.  Most look more like the ones below.PP and house701

The house in the background is one of several scattered between the trail and the mountains, a reminder of the ever encroaching presence of humans in the area.  This is one reason there has been a (successful) campaign to designate several parts of the area as the Organ Mountains – Desert Peaks National Monument.

The last picture is of a less common kind of cactus along this trail, a pincushion (I think).pincushion702

The Big Snow

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It was only six inches, over a day and a night, but that’s a lot for our town.  Here’s a view of my back yard the first afternoon. snowfall682

Notice the bush to the left of the tree.  When the snow stopped the next afternoon, all the bushes had been buried.after snow689

The clothesline looked like a hammock. hammock685

Today, four days after the snow stopped, there is still snow on the mountains, showing that it has been quite cold. snowmountain691

We are comfortable indoors, but not quite snug.  The roofers began work on the day before Christmas Eve and have not been back.  I have emptied several gallons of snow melt leaking through vents from buckets and pans.  How quickly such things come to seem normal – as long as you remember to check the water levels.

Happy Solstice

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Winters are usually comfortable here.  We have some ten hours of sunlight on our shortest day.  This year, this solstice/Christmas week, the temperatures are even rising into the 60s, but that’s not necessary for a lovely winter day. P1000680

One of the treats of the depth of winter, for me, is the way the low southern sun shines through the bushes while I am at my desk in the morning.  I have sometimes been caught off guard looking up, thinking I’m seeing flowers on a plant, the way the white spots are distributed.  It’s a delightful trick of the morning light.

May the lovely blooms you imagine this winter flower for you in 2016.

Poem on Line

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I have a new poem on line.  It’s called “Spice Shelf” and can be found at: http://south85journal.com/issues/fall-winter-2015/poetry/spice-shelf/spiceshelf681

The poem began from a prompt: “begin with an ordinary object and see where it goes.”  Why the spice shelf came to mind, I don’t know.  When it did, I went to look at mine and had wonderful ideas about seeing the spices as dwellers in an apartment house, going in and out in yellow or green coats and keeping their passion inside.  Very little of this remained in the final poem as mundane but important matters of flavoring and feeding took over.  Spices offer a wonderful opportunity for naming colors.

South 85 Journal does a very elegant presentation of the few poems they choose for each “issue” on line.  I’m pleased to be among them.

Some Fall Color

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The four-wing saltbush is displaying its golden seed pods.

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I have several clumps of chrysanthemums.

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They’ve come from Easter flowers at our church.  Over time I’ve had trouble finding places for them.  One I planted between two bushes which grew bigger than I expected.P1000670

I had to go around behind the fence to notice them.  Fortunately they look nice indoors, though they are not long lasting cut flowers.

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On Wednesday there was a very colorful sunrise.

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It has rained every day since.  It’s time to go back into my burrow.  I have a lot more digging to do.

Burrowing

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There are seasons and there are seasons.  Nature’s seasons go at a regular pace, though the weather varies.  Not so the internal seasons.  I’ve been lax at the blog posts for a while now, because I feel like I’m in a burrowing season, not a communicative one.

It didn’t help that we’ve had two hail storms this month.  The first destroyed four skylights.  The second destroyed the roof.  There’s something about holes in the roof that makes one feel that there is really no place safe.hailThis post is to explain my silence, so I can stop feeling guilty about it.  I’m going to play prairie dog and dig myself a nice, comfy hole to winter in.  And see what I find down there.

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