A photo from last winter which I'm sure will recreate itself in the next not-very-many weeks. We had light snow and intense cold for about ten days. An unusual start to our winter but in this age of climate change the unusual is expected. Then we had five or so days of suddenly spring-like temperatures and mild winds -- a delight! Now it's very cold again, but seasonably so this time. So far the snow has simply been occasional errant flakes. I'm sure we all expect much more soon.
Our seasons, especially spring, are always very changeable from day to day, week to week. I have learned to try to take notice of what each day is. I don't like the face-freezing winds, I don't like the black ice that surrounds my car in the parking lot. I walk with great caution, this is a time of broken wrists and sprained ankles and more serious injuries and I want none of them. I've written a small poem about our brief respite of thaw.
Unseen crows in full cry warm, wet fog wraps its wisps among bare tree tops a gossamer veil blending into a skimmed milk sky ice melts into puddles hopeful hints of far off spring. In this temperate latitude adjustment to fickle weather is an unchanging fact of life.
In our lengthy "cold snap" with the temperatures not above freezing for a couple of weeks writing about anything except the cold is difficult.
Fortunately here in the central part of Cape Cod we had almost none of the serious snow that crippled much of the East Coast.
I am warm at home and bundle up appropriately when I must go out. I am trying to look on the bright side so I have written a short poem which I hope will be the first of three or four short poems about this January.
Globes of gold on my breakfast table in a blue bowl beside a plate of toast, their thin rinds pierced by a thumb nail, I tear them easily to find the sweet slices of fruit, inhaling the tang of citric acid. Hello to a day of sunlight, biting cold, the satisfaction of a warm home and opportunity to write about delight on a winter morning. I wish everyone could start their day with such simple satisfaction.
2018! As a child one cannot imagine living to a day so distant. But here it is and here I am, the first morning of this new year. I changed the header to a season appropriate photo. We're in a deep freeze, have been four days already and more to come this week. It was 5 degrees at 6:00 and not to get much warmer today. However the sun is bright and sparkling on the very light layer of snow that drifted down more than 24 hours ago.
The year started auspiciously, although I was in bed at 12:00 drifting toward sleep, I went to a new year's eve party for the first time in a great many years. A fine party in a lovely house with a group of people, most of whom I knew and some of whom I met for the first time. Good talk, good food, drinks were not limited except by our well-learned caution. The only time voices were raised was not out of raucous excitement but to accomodate those who were hard of hearing. We were mostly over 70. This blog was to started to write about life from 70-onward, so it's not surprising that guests began to drift away as of about 10:30. I gave one guest a ride home about 11:00 and was pleased that the roads were nearly empty. Younger people -- which is to say the majority -- were gathered wherever and waiting for the stroke of midnight. But we had experienced many a stroke of midnight and realized that on a very, very cold night settling under a nice warm duvet was a wonderful place to be.
This morning started well for me. The first email I opened was an acceptance of a poem I submitted to a small publication. They suggested it would be published in the middle of the month so more about that later. It's a bit of a political rant -- well, actually a serious political rant and timely. I said to the group last night that I am very happy to have found myself accepted in a group of people who mostly have the same political views I have. But when the mutual distress reached a repetitive point, I raised my voice to change the subject a little to the future technology we and our children's children will live with by asking a question that set me thinking several weeks ago: will the generation that is in grade school now have to learn to drive?
One man immediately said, "No. And the infrastructure will be abandoned because the cars will be like hovercraft." Someone else pointed out that some kinds of machinery will still be used on the ground. And so it went, remembering the kinds of telephones we have all experienced, the days before television and when it was a pleasure to fly, not the ordeal that it is today. S my generation considered the state of the world and the unimaginable future. Probably no previous generation has been so aware that the future is utterly beyond our ability to conceive because we realize that we could not have imagined Skype, or the medical procedures that gave several people new knees, and so on. Ah, brave new world ... or maybe that is not the correct adjective at all.
These wild turkeys took a leisurely stroll through the lawn beyond the window that is behind my computer table. When I came out with camera in hand, the Tom in charge flared his tail feather and mooned me. He gabbled to his harem to move on; they did. The grass had turned brown but some of them seemed to be finding tasty tidbits, whether vegetable or insect, I don't know.
Cape Cod has been infested with wild turkeys; most groups seem to be about this size--6 to 10 although I've heard of larger groups and frequently see a group of four at the Community College campus. They are fearless about crossing roads and frequently stop traffic. Some people say they can be territorial and a bit dangerous. I have not witnessed anything but minding their own business.
For many years I thought wild turkeys were extinct; but for most of that time I lived in a city and not in the an area that is highly built up but still has large tracts of wooded area and many individual homes have sizable yards. I fear running into one on a small street but enjoy seeing them. In this era of global warming many species are disappearing but, strange to say, some, like the turkeys are thriving. I supposed that's the give and take of major changes in our atmosphere and use of the land.
This morning the news reported that nearly all of the 450 right whales -- in existence!! -- are settled in Cape Cod Bay for the winter. During the last six or eight months 17 have died. Nearly all due to entanglement in fishing nets and lines or due to encounters with boats' propellers. Cape Cod Bay is not a very large body of water. The inlet/outlet is at the far eastern end of the Cape, where Provincetown sits. There are many pleasure boats, several whale watch boats, some fishing boats that use use the harbor regularly but it is unsuited to large boats. The only larger boats go from the outer side of the Cape -- the big ferries to Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard and yachts and larger fishing vessels. The whales should be save in the harbor. I do not know the many other pertinent facts about their lives -- the reproduction rates and so on -- but the end of the news feature said that extinction is the only likely outcome for these whales.
They were given the name "right" whales during the orgy of whaling 150 years ago. They were the specie that was most advantageous to kill because when they died they did not sink into the depths of the ocean but floated, thus making it easy for the whaling ships to pull them along side, extract their blubbler and oil and then they would sink. So they were hunted most ferociously. Thus the needs if civilization (so called) take their toll.
A picture of summer ending -- white rosa rugosa become golden rose hips, the pink ones become orange hips and the red ones become bright red hips. Nature makes a certain amount of sense.
However, nature has seemed out a whack this summer and autumn. My much loved habit of going to a quiet beach at about 8:00 in the morning and walking for a hour each day, sometimes with a pause for some Ti Chi Easy, was very much interrupted. Each week seemed to have two or three days of gray, unwelcoming mornings. I actually didn't get much tan. And I didn't find the usual calm pleasure in my habit. Furthermore the horseshoe crabs which I love -- really it was just their molted shells which drifted up to the beach from early August through the month, were very few. Something had happened to those ancient crustaceans -- at least along this shore. That was sad.
The unsettled weather has continued into the fall. We had four or five truly beautiful Indian summer days last week. But for the past couple of day we've had fog, gray skies, rain, and last night a serious wind storm that, the radio say, left several thousand Cape Codder without electricity. This morning I drove a short distance and saw two young trees down across the road. My elextricity was not affected and I slept through most of the storm -- actually because I had done some unusual self-medication. My boast of "I never get those things that go around" has proved untrue with a Something -- not the Flu, not a Cold -- maybe we could all it the Creeping Crud as I might have in high school. Three friends I see often have been felled by it. I haven't exactly compared notes, but mainly it is a cough (I speak for myself only) -- a very bad, raspy, gasping, chest wrenching cough to free the tonsils from feeling impacted with that "crud".
I fought back as valiantly as I (unacccustomed as I am) could with OTC decongestant, cough drops, various varieties of tea (I even pulled out some quite old slippery elm tea), and Tylenol PM which is my go-to sleep aid on the rare occasions when I think I need one. So I missed a lot of the storm and I have barely any voice. But I did not wake up coughting during the night and have had only a couple of coughing spells today.
This unusual turmoil in the ecology/atmosphere and in my own little body, seems to me a echo of the unprecedented turmoil in our political world. I feel something almost beyond despair at the actions of Trump and the apparently "head under the pillow" attitude of most of Congress, the uprising of hate groups and the home-grown craziness of men who create tragedy and terror with guns. This is not a "something is rotten in Denmark" moment -- it's beyond anything Shakespeare with all his brilliance, could have conceived. The world is not right. When one world "leader" becomes a taunting 8-year old callong another "rocket boy!" taunting him to use his nuclear capable rockets -- we are not merely on a dark heath or a storm at sea. I've temporarily lost my voice -- it is not a voice that carries far anyway -- is this the "whimper" that is all one can do?
Because the ingenuity of an artist and the magic of mirrors, here I am talking to a woman (who is painted on the mirror). I am standing to the side (you can see a corner of my purse on the right) and, also in the mirror is daughter Rachel taking this picture. Rachel wanted to go visit #1 son over Columbus holiday. All research told us the best say to go was to drive. Yes, we knew it was a long drive, 11 hours each way and we would have only one whole day and two evenings. It was worth it although we weren't entirely sure about that driving home. (More on that in little while.) Monday was sunny and hot and humid in Washington (Joel lives in Arlington but it's a short distance. We spent Monday mostly in and out of museums --this photo was in the modern art one. Happily they were air conditioned. We saw art from the the 15th century to modern -- in some cases 'yesterday" because our first stop was in at a converted torpedo factory which now houses at least 50 artists' studio. We all loved the variety and creativity and commentary. In D.C. we went to the big museums and revisited favorites like El Greco, Hopper, Whistler -- you name it, they've got it!
We don't get to visit with Joel very often. Seeing him and his mostly minimailist apartment in a section with many modern apartment buildings, was a pleasure. He even took us to a New York style bagel place for breakfast, plus to a Uigher restaurant (very good and mostly different) and then a Pakistani restaurant the next night.
It was a short, quick visit. The trip down was about an hour longer than it should have been due to a detour. And the drive home was an hour longer due to the worst rainy conditions I can remember ever spending 10 hours in -- on Rte. 95. We kept thinking the next state (8 in all) it would clear up but it didn't. Thank heavens Rachel had loaded her IPat with NPR programs and a nice piano piece to use when mediating I had brought poetry books you Billy Colling and Mary Oliver and read them aloud. The 18-wheelers were about 10 times the size of my little Honda Civic and threw up white-out conditions of water on our windshield. Rachel, calmly, heroically did al the driving. But I'm glad I was along at least for little company and distraction.
I don't really go off-Cape that often so this was an adventure -- I'm sorry the weather was so awful. When we got to the Bourne bridge which takes us from the mainland Massachusetts and leads to Rte. 6 on Cape Cod with only 30 miles to Hyannis we saw the gray sky had a tinge of blue and the rain became a drizzle and then stopped as we got home. Thus -- my autumn adventure and Rachel's heroic driving in conditions that can only be worse when the percipitation is snow.
A beautiful day -- after most of a week of gray, rainy weather today's sky was blue, the sun was warm but not hot, and the afternoon was spent at Heritage Plantation, a large botanical garden in Sandwich, here on Cape Cod. Rhododendrun season is in full swing, the plantation is famous for their rodies and azelas (also blooming magnificently). The displays were gorgeous!
The garden is large, it has features to keep everyone happy. After we visited the flume, near the entrance which the kids love (water falling from a pipe far up into a pool, they raced around the labryinth at least least three times and have now learned that there is a difference between a laybrinth and a maze (although they have not yet experienced a maze). Of course we made our way, past fields and some new scultpures to the "Hollow" which is a children's play area complete with a two story tree house and many other toys and amusement. They would have been happy to spend the entire aternoon there.
I could have spent more time in the museum which has a fine exhibit of landscape paintings inclding a beautiful Hopper painting and somewhere between 35 and 50 other paintings, some as old as Marsden Hartley but most contemporary painters, both realistic and abstract. In a separate building is a beautiful carousel, free! with relatively long rides. The kids went twice, I went once and declared it "the carousel ride I've had in 50 years." All except little Silas (who can't talk but is a wonderfully placid and easy going baby -- readying to take his first steps) wanted to see the paintings. They are hardly art critics but they told us which ones they liked best and were willing to look at everything.
The kids have been there before and so knew about the children's area and the wandering paths. There were no fusses or arguments, no whining, just enjoyment. What a very, very good afternoon it was!
The mid-70s are a surprise! Part of me remains in the 50s -- age, I mean, not decade of 20th century. It's a joy ride, new experiences land in my lap and I've become a better quilter, poet, writer than I expected. It's a rich life for a person never rich financially. Hey, this is what the mid-70s are like!