Saturday, December 02, 2006

walking on water, and other things I did today

Frozen water, that is.It's been cold enough that when I walked out to get the mail, which is as far away from home as I went today, I dared to check the status of the ice by walking on it. To make sure, I took a broom and brushed off a bit of the snow covering near shore and looked at it and knocked on it. Solid, clear, and smooth, at least four inches if not more. Perfect, except it froze so fast that there's a huge crack running the length of the pond, with one of the sides about 1/4" above the other. My ice skates are still at the storage shed twenty miles away, along with some essential winter gear. Will be getting them tomorrow.

I would have shoveled off the dusting of snow this afternoon, but I don't think the temperature got above 15 degrees, and there was a strong west wind. It was a much better day for indoor activities, such as organizing and decluttering.

Note the neat piles of folded clothes, and the space in front of the bookshelf which wasn't there before. When you live in a small house, any bit of clutter, unnecessary stuff, or disarray makes it feel even smaller. I spend a lot of my time tending to these things, since oddly enough everyone else seems to tolerate it. If they only knew what inner peace the simple task of house cleaning brings! I know...dream on...

And Puffball on the computer chair: he looked so peaceful I just had to include him. Of course he knew that the chair was meant for human use, but he just looked at me smugly when I asked him to move. So I brought in another chair. Animals...

While running one armful of clutter out to the garbage and the tarp garage, I noticed a hawk soaring and hovering above the swamp beyond the garden. I had noticed one there a few days ago, doing the exact same thing. I went back to the house to grab the binoculars, and I watched it hover and soar, then another one joined it. Finally they both disappeared over the aspens across the swamp. I'm not sure what species they were; they almost looked like ospreys, although I don't think I've seen them here this time of year. An osprey would have reason to hover over the open, moving water of the creek, which is about where it was.
update- after reviewing two field guides, I think they were rough-legged hawks. An osprey here this time of year, away from big water, would be unlikely.

Later on I checked my home brew, which I had been concerned about because I didn't see carbon dioxide happily bubbling through the airlock. But after I transferred it to the glass carboy and set it up on the counter I immediately saw airlock activity. It looked and smelled about like a beer should at that point; actually I found myself inhaling the aroma of the sludge on the bottom of the brewing bucket after I transferred the beer. A fragrant mix of hops, yeast, coriander, and orange peel.

As I was reluctantly dumping the sludge behind a balsam on the edge of the yard, I noticed some activity on the forest floor about thirty feet away. I looked up, and there was a ruffed grouse, a bit agitated about my presence and showing the ruff of feathers around its neck, but not flying away. I stood still, it looked at me, made a slight clucking noise, and walked away slowly. Usually I don't get to see grouse that close for more than a split second before they take off in an explosive flurry of wingbeats.

I love how I don't have to go too far, or even do anything but my normal household activities, to see hawks, grouse, and all the other wonders that exist here.


Floridacracker said...

It was a day for chores here too, although mine were all outside. You'll be happy to know it was chilly, grey, and wet.

Not 15 degrees chilly of course.

Sandy said...

Sounds like a fine day to me. I like your cat's name.

Anonymous said...

I spent lots of yesterday gathering through the house, too. You're right, it doesn't take much clutter to make a small place seem completely taken over. And I'm working with more square footage than you are, one less child, and no animals! You could probably put up your shingle as one of those organizing mavens.

I wonder what that grouse was up to?

Deb said...

FC- Oh well, the chilly wet days make one appreciate the warm dry days all that much more. I'm gonna really appreciate the next thaw!

sandy- Thanks. The kids chose it.

Madcap- If and when I ever get my own system figured out! I did put a bunch of old Mother Earth News and Countryside magazines in the recycling bin; I realized after a few years, I have never referred back to any past issues.

I think the grouse was startled, but then he smelled the hops and coriander and wanted to check it out!

Anonymous said...

When we lived on the farm, I claimed and jealously guarded the task of carrying out the toilet bucket. At first I did it just to forestall any complaints from others about the task, but I came to realize that it got me out regularly to see things. I had to stop several times along the path to rest, and I still remember those quiet times just enjoying the bush and the birds.

Deb said...

arcolaura- good name change; it seems there are so many bloggers named Laura out there.

Hmmm...carrying out the toilet bucket...was this a sawdust toilet or the raw stuff? I seem to gravitate towards the task of digging out our portable outhouse turned sawdust toilet. It's a pause for thinking about our connection to the earth, in the most literal terms, and some crude humor to make the task lighter. Last time (two weeks ago) I hauled the buckets out to the compost on a garden wagon, and every so often I'd yell out "Bring out yer dead!" ala Monty Python.

Okay...maybe I've said too much. :) But I totally understand your taking a seemingly crude task and turning it into enlightenment.

Anonymous said...

"Bring out yer dead" - lol!

Sawdust toilet, I guess you would call it. We used sawdust sometimes, and sometimes whatever chaff could be had from Mom's seed cleaning. If I recall correctly, the sawdust was best for controlling odor and sloppiness. Much nicer than the buckets of raw stuff I remember from my childhood. But I never got around to the minor task of building a frame to confine the pile and make it compost properly. We were spoiled, I guess - there was a great pile of well-rotted cattle manure handy, so no shortage of fertilizer.