A Porch of My Own

A Porch of My Own

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Spring has sprung!

Rickie and I sat on the swing just as sunset was nearing. The temp was dropping as the day ended. He was covered up with a soft fleece throw our daughter-in-law Lisa had made for him several years ago. I had a crocheted throw Lisa made for me for Christmas year before last. It is all my favorite colors and she worked on it off and on for a year. We were warm wrapped in these gifts and talked about how Lisa had made them for us and the time and care she invested. The clouds to the southwest were pink from the sitting sun and we stayed there until it began to get dark. (Photo was taken before we cut cedars down to open view.)

We had spent the day cutting some cedar and enlarging our view from the back yard. Sitting in the swing we could see back the 12 miles to town. There are some communication towers there and we could see 4 of them blinking with their red lights, and another one partially hidden by a big oak tree down the hill. There is a big hill you come down as you enter the Llano River valley and we could see that hill. it is a beautiful view; a million dollar view, as they say! Of course we didn't pay a million dollars for it!

I now have several piles of cedar to burn. The other day I burned the last of the piles I had at that time. Woodrow and Gus love a fire and had to come check it out. Woodrow would almost walk into a burning fire! I don't know why but he is especially drawn to one. Later that afternoon after the fire had burned down and I had sprayed water on it, I saw him standing in the middle of it. I am pretty sure it was still warm but he had to find out for himself!

A couple of days ago Rickie and I went around cutting little cedars down. He has a small chain saw he is trying out. His big one is heavy and upon our neighbor Scott's recommendation he added a small one to his tool box for the smaller cedars. I use my long handled loppers for little ones. I found a huge claret cup cactus on the rock shelf going down the hill. When it blooms it will be covered with red flowers.We have a big one in a pot on the porch but this one was two times as big, at least! We will keep checking on it to see it when it blooms.

I went back to the dry creek or wash that runs across the back of our property. There were small pools of water and it bubbled and ran in the area beneath the cliff after the rains we had last week. It used to do that all the time the first 10 years we had our place. When Natalie was little she told me how she had drank the water that bubbled up from the rocks! There is a type of frog that buries itself in the sand and goes into suspended animation in times of drought. It emerges when it is wet and we can hear them from the cabin. It has been years since we heard them. As we sat on the porch yesterday I wondered aloud if we would ever hear them again. I hope so.

One day last week we let the longhorns into the yard. There is some fresh green grass and we knew they would enjoy it. It has been a while since we let them in; they are so big now. They were excited and did some running, jumping, and head bumping to show their joy!

This morning there were some yellow evening primroses blooming in the yard. When we were kids in north Louisiana we called a variety of these buttercups. These open up in the late afternoon and follow the sun. This morning they were facing the sun to the east and closed up shortly after we saw them. With the drought we didn't have much in the way of wildflowers last year so I hope this is a sign of a better year. So far it looks promising! There are wild bluebonnets all over the place.

It was a beautiful weekend and we spent every moment we could outside in the perfect Spring-time Hill
Country weather. We often get a late freeze or two and have had snow at Easter before. But right now I just want to go to the nursery and buy spring flowers to plant!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

All is calm, all is bright

I woke up at 4:00 am Monday. It is always quiet out here but after the snowfall we had Sunday the quiet and stillness seemed more so. Looking out the front window the ice crystals on the ground sparkled in the reflection of the yard light. There was a little doe eating the birdseed on the ground under the front feeder. She heard me raise the shade and turned to look at me. It was a beautiful scene and I wished my life could always be this peaceful. 

The sleet started Sunday morning shortly after Rickie left to head back to work. It soon turned to snow. Big fat beautiful flakes. Birds seemed to appear from everywhere. A flock of juncos that has been here a couple of weeks. House finches. A couple of squirrels. All eating the seed I put on the ground under the back sunflower seed feeder, by the water tank in the yard, and under the finch feeder in the side yard. They chattered away as they fueled up to better endure the cold temperature.

I put my winter gear on and went out to take some photos. Usually this will send the birds and squirrels all scattering but they mostly ignored me. When my hands started to freeze, I returned to the cabin and added another log to the fire. A little house finch came and sat on the windowsill, all fluffed up and trying to get out of the snow. I had scared him off earlier when I opened the front door. He had been perched above it on the door frame. 

Later as the snow increased, I bundled up again and took more photos. I fed the longhorns, giving them extra feed and hay. They don’t have a barn to go into so they need to get that furnace going in their body and the feed and hay fuels that. I debated whether to put some old hay we have out on an area they sometimes sleep in but decided there were warmer places deeper in the woods and they know where they are. 

I also put out more birdseed at all the feeding spots and threw some corn out for the deer and some milo out for the doves and the turkeys I am hoping will return. I busted up the ice on the water tanks so the longhorns could drink. I refilled the wood box on the back porch and pulled it closer to the door. It is a short but cold trip out on the porch when the fire needs more wood! I thought I would shorten it.

Coming inside, I built up the fire and settled down with my book, thinking I was in for the night. Then I remembered the water lines to the longhorns’ water tanks. They froze last year when we were not here, even though we had the water off and had drained the cabin. Rickie had added some ball valves where we can drain these lines and there is a cutoff to the lines that leaves the water to the cabin on.

So once more I bundled up and went out to turn that water off and drain the lines in the ground and those going up the side of the tanks. I was relieved that the water drained and had not frozen yet! Whew! We had 5 breaks last year in these lines. My dad who was a plumber, and my husband who thinks I am a capable person, would both figure I could fix a break if no one else was around but it wasn’t something I wanted to do. Especially since I should have thought of it earlier!

The snow had stopped and it was sleeting a little again. I returned to the fireside and my book. The world outside my windows was covered in white. The only sounds were the fire crackling and the birds chattering. We only get snow a couple of times a year and I wished it had come a day earlier so Rickie could have seen it. He will have to settle for the videos and photos I took. 

Snow is also a fleeting thing out here. The next day we were back in the 60s and the snow melted away by noon. The magic was gone along with the illusion that the world is a peaceful place where people leave the comfort of their easy chair and the warm fire to make sure the beings they share the earth with are fed and safe. We lost something of ourselves when we left this kind of life behind and I’ve often thought since I came here to stay that if people would live a life closer to the earth, things would be different with them. I am grateful for the opportunity I have to be here. And for these silent nights, holy nights I share with a little doe while the snow and ice sparkles around us.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Bald Eggs and Boiled Eagles

My friend Mitzie told me the other day that she has been watching some bald eagles on the lake where she lives. (Photo - Mitzie's back yard on the lake.) It reminded me of a phrase I have been carrying around for 20 years, hoping one day to use as a book title. That would require me writing a book and I'm not sure that will happen. The book would, of course, be about Southern women.

I mentioned my co-worker Terese in a previous post. She had a beautiful soft Southern way of speaking, the kind of voice you would hear in Charleston. She never hurried her conversation and it was like listening to a song being sung.

One day at lunch she said she had brought some "bald" eggs to eat. Our boss, Joe, walked in at that time and his face said "what are bald eggs; I've never heard of those?" Upon seeing she had boiled eggs, he made the remark that if it was bald eggs, it must be boiled eagles! I filed the phrase away in my mind and it always makes me smile.