Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Mowing the Snow

I think that we have had significant snow, and a snow day, every December, during the single digit days, since arriving here a little over two years ago. This year was no exception, though it held out until the last possible day. Even at 6:00 AM this morning, there were no flakes coming down, and Alden awoke sometime after 8:30 saying, with disappointment, “I guess there isn’t a snow day today.” [he did not know what time it was or realize that if it had been a school day, we’d have been heading out the door at that moment]. In spite of the non-snowy conditions, school had already been called off by the time I checked a little after 6:00, in anticipation of the big storm coming.

I had to go to work to teach my morning class (the university closed at noon), and by the time I came home, it was coming down something fierce.

Ray and Alden had been worrying that the snow was never going to come; so, they are now truly relieved as well as excited.

No fancy snow pictures, just this one, Ray mowing, yes, mowing the lawn (already snowy from the weekend’s light dusting of snow) in an effort to make a smooth snowboard/sled run down the hill.

In what must be some sort of clever psychological marketing plan, today’s mail brought the 2010 Fedco catalog. So, as we sit here, snow falling down around us, the light fading in what seems like the middle of the afternoon, cozy with the fire in the woodstove,

and look ahead to the long winter (though we don’t look forward with any dread, just eager anticipation for the ski season, and curiosity about just how Milo will do on skis this year) we can also look even further ahead, to next year’s planting season, and begin dreaming about what we hope to grow and what seeds we’ll order this year.

[Ijust went back and did some checking, to confirm that we did indeed have snow days in early December each year, and while I did not post about the December 2008 one, I do mention it here.]

Sunday, September 20, 2009


Skimming through old blog posts (and sort of trying to get caught up/document things from the past) I see that I have never posted about blueberries. Our first fall here, we did not know about blueberries (in the sense that there is a local place you can pick your own). Our second fall, we figured it out, and picked quite a lot, but we still felt that we could have done better.

This year, we really were even better, picking even more, getting the kids picking,
and making not one, but two, blueberry pies from fresh blueberries, while we were still in the midst of picking.
(we generally head over to the blueberry place, which is just a few miles from home, and pick for about an hour. So, we picked quite a few times, over the course of about three weeks, in September).

I now cannot remember how much we picked this year. But, I really think we picked enough to last, which means we can have blueberries in breakfast goods and baked treats pretty much all year long.

Monday, June 29, 2009


One berry
Two berry
Pick me a blueberry


Three berry
Four berry

Finger and pawberry
My berry, yaw* berry

from Jamberry by Bruce Degen

* Ray insists on saying it yaw - berry, in keeping with pawberry. Really, it is your berry...

In spite of astoundingly bad weather (wet wet :: rain rain :: repeat repeat), strawberry season is here.

Alden and I picked one morning last week, in pretty perfect conditions, actually. Not raining, but, not hot or sunny or muggy, really, either. I was aiming for filling one box. Towards the end, he said, "you know, mom, we should pick another box." WHOA! I was gob-smacked.... He was actually having fun and wanted to do more. Amazing. That day we picked about 13 pounds.

The following week, in spite of pretty bad conditions, we went back again, because, you know, 13 pounds is really not that much.

We picked 20 pounds that day.
Do the math: 13 +20= 33. That's about what Milo weighs. We picked a Milo-worth of strawberries. [he then ate a pretty serious percentage of his weight of them. Yeah, it's a little worrisome...]

That was mostly Ray and me. Milo ran around and Alden picked a few and then skulked off to the car to read. Picking started out slowly. The rain is really taking a toll on the berries, and it was just not that easy to get lots of berries quickly. But, Ray got seriously bitten by the berry-picking bug (you can get sort of obsessed, picking berries, and you keep needing to just "pick a few more") and so we kept talking about bailing but meanwhile kept picking.

So far, we have frozen 44 cups (we'll use those mostly to make smoothies, all year long).

Next up: jam making.

Under the bridge

And over the dam

Looking for berries

Berries for jam

(more from Jamberry*)

*it's a silly little book, but oddly, it really grows on you, and you find yourself saying the lines in your head, and even out loud, and you never really mind reading it, when the occasion arises.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Even though this is our second spring here, (by here, I mean, in this yard...) I feel like we are still figuring out - or noticing - things about the plants, trees, foliage, etc. Trees that were spectacular last year have not seemed so this year, and ones I did not notice last year are amazing this year.

Not sure if it is us or them, so to speak. [perhaps we are obtuse, only seeing certain things. On the other hand, I think certain trees/plants may have on/off years, one year spectacular, in terms of flowering or bearing fruit, the next year, not so much.]

This tree in particular was impressive this year. Before it really bloomed, the flower buds were a dark pink color. The whole thing got lighter once the flowers opened up. If you look carefully at the photo below, you'll notice the slight color difference between the fully opened petals and the ones that are still more in bud stage.

Then, oddly, it was only in real full bloom for a very short while. Luckily I managed to get a few decent photos at the time.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Ice Out :: April 2009

Watching the ice go out on our little pond is probably not much of an event, compared to watching the same thing happen on a larger body of water.

[mid day Saturday April 11]

But, it's what we've got, and I made a day of it.... taking pictures every few hours, all day long. By late afternoon, it was clear we were not going to see it actually happen. There was still a bit of ice as the sun set, but somehow we knew that it would be gone by morning.

[later afternoon April 11]

One thing that turned out to be fun was watching the island of ice float all over the pond, over the course of the day. It really moved around a lot, at the same time that it was getting smaller and smaller.

[Gratuitous cute dad and kid photo. Also taken the same day. Trying to get him interested in the scooter - or, wheeled vehicles in general. At this age, his older brother was already riding a two wheeler. This one? he's not showing that much interest so far..... what's up with that?]

[ice from the other side :: still later in the day, Sat Apr 11th]

When I got up Sunday morning, the ice was really and truly gone, having disappeared in the middle of the night, while we slept...

[early morning, Sunday April 12]

I realize that the pictures are not that great - that is, it is pretty hard to really see what is going on. But, if you look closely, you can see the chunk of ice in the middle with the first few pics. Also, notice the how the light differs in the different photos. And, of course, notice that there is still quite a bit of snow - luckily, not on our lawn, but on the neighbor's...

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Maine Maple Sunday

Third Sunday in March, every year. Many of the places that tap trees/sugar open up their establishments for the random public to come and gape. We went with Steve and Emma and Cyrus, and Steve picked the place. Turns out he picked the same place that we went to last year, for this same event. Only we didn’t know it until we were pretty much there (we were just following them, driving), because he led us on a clever back road route that we did not know about, so, we had no idea where we were heading.

Alden points out that Steve knew about short cuts like this “because he’s a map-maker..” , a fact we mentioned while following him there. [He’s a geographer, which was apparently news to Alden, who couldn’t stop remarking on how cool it was, and how surprised he was to discover this. I don’t think Steve has really been keeping his work secret, so, I can’t help but wonder, where’s Alden been?]

We wandered around the farm, checking out the equipment, the animals, and of course the sap boiling.

Last year, it was a different story, since the weather was bad and the sap really had not started running when Maine Maple Sunday happened. This year, things were in full swing, and it promises to be a good sugaring year. Cold nights, warm days.

[this is a view of the ceiling, with the steam from the sap boiling rising up to the top of the room]

Free ice cream with warm maple syrup on it. Alden sweet talked the ladies running the ice cream area and managed to get seconds.

After exploring the farm and syrup operation, we went to the pancake breakfast, held in the old East Dixfield schoolhouse, which is part of the farm. I was all snobby and thinking I wouldn’t eat anything much, since it was pancake mix, not homemade. But, then I got in there, got a plate to share with Ray, and started eating, and boy was it delicious (totally simple: pancakes, warm fresh maple syrup, and good sausages). Milo sat with Emma, who fed him about three pancakes (we are talking HUGE pancakes, not the tiny little things I make…). Apparently I am not feeding him enough at home.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Snow Day

Count so far: two days off from school. First one was before Xmas. Also, so far, two late starts b/c of snow.

Today was a beautiful one: good snow and outdoor potential pretty much all day. The other snow day we had was crap: snow turned wet and heavy and then, pretty much, turned to rain, making it not at all appealing to be outside. Fun to watch the near-flooding on the road outside the house, but, not that much fun...

Milo wearing what he calls his "mittens with pictures."

Alden was outside for hours.

Milo and I also enjoyed some good time in the backyard. Milo has heretofore not been all that psyched about sledding. Today, he was into it.

I had my camera up on the porch, and was waiting to be inspired to photograph something. Suddenly I saw it, as I was sitting in the sled, waiting to start down the hill with Milo tucked in in front of me.

I made Alden run for the camera, and then spent a while trying to get that perfect shot. Yelling at both children all the while: Milo, who kept squirming and not "turning" the way I wanted him to turn, so I could get the snow on the eyelashes just right; Alden, who kept kicking into his snowboard again and again, all the while kicking me and Milo, in the sled, as he (Alden) wanted to head down the hill right on our heels...

Then the snowflakes turned from small to HUGE. Not sure I really was able to capture that, but, I tried.