Our feature photo this month is of the first crocus of the season, which emerged on February 13th. The delicately striped goblet and bright orange-gold stamens made a particularly pleasing image this month. Early heralds of the coming spring, they often endure bouts of cold, snowy weather with grace and fortitude.
News from the farm
February has been a short, mostly dark month in spite of the rapidly lengthening days, a study in shades of grey, white and green. Our pleasant but unusually warm winter weather continued on into the first half of the month before descending into more seasonal cold conditions, confounding early shoots, buds and tree frogs.
The first of snow fell, leaving a pristine coverlet of white across the emerald green of the farm; many passing storms brought frequent squalls of varying flake sizes. The wind’s movements about the farm were recorded in the ringing of the chimes and in the patterns of the driven, swirling plates, giving form and intent to the invisible. Fog crawled over the hills and down into the low areas, shrouding the perimeter and sealing us in. Daffodils patiently waited with bowed trumpets; crocus goblets were tightly folded up like umbrellas; frogs remained silent. Old Man Winter was passing through.
The ground, still relatively warm, did not tolerate her covers for long, throwing them off and leaving snow stranded in the cooler branches with their nested lichens like cotton balls.
The land is in transition from winter’s fitful sleep and petulant late season storms. Grass continues to green and grow; buds fatten and determined tree frogs will perform their symphonies on warmer nights. Spring will soon arrive.
News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms
Resident Feline Correspondent Mr. Nano had assigned this month’s report to corespondents Mr. Lucio and Miss Nod, but they were too busy napping and keeping an eye on the other residents.
Miss Nod’s sisters Miss Wynken and Miss Blynken volunteered to report their findings of February instead. Without further ado, Miss Wynken and Miss Blynken will present their findings.
In early February we continued to wake to darkness, barn lights still glowing on the distant hills as morning attempted to shake off the long mid winter night. On warmer, sunnier days it didn’t take long for the uniform grey to dissolve into a variety of cloud forms, from ragged, heavy cumulus to cottonball-like altoculumus and wispy cirrus; temperatures sometimes rose into the mid 60s.
The sun’s steady journey north continues; the point of emergence over the eastern hills will change rapidly now. At equinox, it will shine directly in our east window, our own Stonehenge of sorts. On clearer mornings, we watched the mists rise from damp earth, coalescing into milky rivers winding around the base of nearby hills. On these days, all is rising and becoming cloud, wandering up and away over the Cascades.
On cloudy days, the sky may eventually clear enough to allow the sun to briefly kiss the hills with golden light at sundown. The colors in the east will transition, becoming darker on the horizon as the last longer rays of sunlight fade. After nightfall, we look for the constellation Orion, and the moon at its various points in its cycle.
February marks the return of the American robin, Turdus migratorius, to the farm in large numbers. They have been particularly fond of scratching about under the rose bushes.
The giant has come back to visit the greenhouse, and unwittingly disturbed the winter residents who wished nothing more than a dry, quiet place to sleep away the cold. An overwintering yellowjacket queen was found in a pile of seed trays out in the new cement pad greenhouse. Torpid and helpless, she was put back in a protected place. A fat-bodied brown-colored spider was nestled in another set of tray inserts, complete with long-dead prey wrapped in silk. Size and strength determine many an outcome in this game of life.
February 15th marked a return to cooler conditions, decelerating the headlong rush into early spring initiated by January’s unusual warmth. Our frogs were mostly quiet at last rounds on this particular evening, not finding the day’s weather pattern to their liking. The thermometer spider was actively hunting on her web that evening, undaunted by a cold morning start and a temperature that evening of 42 degrees.
The first snow of the season fell on February 18th. We awoke to a light frosting and overcast skies that day. There is something magical about the first snow; heavy skies that are neither grey nor white seem to be one with the earth below as they meet in a fury of drifting, swirling precipitation. A light wind drove the flakes at a gentle angle before it. Although the temperature was hovering just below 32 degrees, the ground was still relatively warm, resulting in a slushy, slippery footing just below the pristine white coverlet.
Our thermometer spider appears to have company now; a second web occupied by a smaller spider has been built further down and at an angle to the larger spider’s web.
All has returned to green as of today, February 25th, as a steady rain falls. It was 38 degrees at daybreak; a light wind at ground level was accompanied fast moving, low-hanging clouds, dragging their bottoms across the hills like heavily laden ships in aerial seas. Trees, festooned with water-swollen lichens and moss, appear to have a covering of new spring growth if viewed from a distance. It is not long now until the arrival of spring.
We wish our readers a pleasant evening ahead, and safe travels to wherever their destination in life may lead them.
– Resident Feline Correspondents Miss Wynken and Miss Blynken, reporting for Salmon Brook Farms
Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)
I continue to enjoy playing out again. February has been busier than I expected, but I do hope to be catching up with some projects in March.
For those readers who are new or catching up, the Salmon Brook Farms YouTube channel now has content, and our first Tiny Farm Concerts one song music video was posted at the end of March. I am 14 years older and a good bit more grey since my first and only CD was released back in 2003, but still in the saddle. It has been an interesting ride, with more to come! Do keep an eye on more content appearing from time to time.
For those who have missed previous posts and wish to view the channel content, here are links to the previous two videos.
The Orchard, our distributor, has placed some of our music from the Keepsake CD on YouTube. Anyone wishing to see the entire track listing and stories behind the songs should visit my personal page under MUSIC in the menu at the top of this post. Depending on what country you live in, the music placed on YouTube by The Orchard may be blocked. Readers can also access some songs from the CD via the old IUMA archive site. See https://archive.org/details/iuma-lavinia_ross
In the meantime, in your area, wherever you may be, please do all you can to help keep your own local music alive. Go out and see someone you don’t know, host a house concert, download songs or buy CDs. Or even just stop for a minute to hear someone at a Farmers’ Market. Live, local musicians provide a wealth of talent most people will never hear about in this age of iPods, Internet and TV.
Bookings and home-grown produce:
Lavinia and Rick Ross
Salmon Brook Records / Salmon Brook Farms