Our feature photo this month is of a particularly beautiful sunrise on January 1st, starting off the new year on a colorful note.
The waning crescent moon hung in the sky accompanied by a bright planet.
The 2nd of January was no less delightful, making her debut in pink, peach and blue. Dark branches of bare trees made a fine filigree set against an early sky.
Of Special Note to Readers
I am not someone who offers reviews of books, art or music, being neither qualified nor having the time, energy or interest to do so. I am an observer and recorder of life as it wanders through this farm, brushing against my own in some way I find meaningful to share with others once every month, sometimes two, and I am very grateful to all who have stopped by to view the reflections of it in the still waters of my words and photographs. Artists, musicians, photographers and writers are among the regular visitors here on this blog site, and I cherish all of you, not only for your individual creativity, but for whom you are as people. That said, there are times when someone’s work comes to my attention, not only for the quality of the individual work, but for something I find inexpressible, something I find of far greater value to society than the sum of its parts.
Cynthia Reyes, a former journalist, producer-director and executive producer with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, turned to blogging and writing after a serious car accident derailed her career. I thoroughly enjoyed her first two books, A Good Home and An Honest House, both memoirs, but it was Myrtle the Purple Turtle, a children’s book of all things, that spoke to my heart. The story was written to comfort her four year old daughter Lauren, who had been bullied at school for bringing a black Cabbage Patch doll named Quentin. The other children told her they would not play with her if she brought the black doll along, because they thought it was dirty. Over a period of weeks, the family worked on improving the story until all were happy with it, and many years later, in 2017, it finally became a published children’s book. Myrtle the Purple Turtle tells the tale of her initial heartbreak at learning she is different, and being bullied for that, but in the end comes to respect herself for who she is, with the help of her friends. In my enthusiasm for the message behind this book, I gave a copy to our local library for the children’s section, sent a copy to Operation Respect, and also sent one to Scott Simon at NPR. I would love to hear Scott interview Cynthia and Lauren someday!
I was pleased to learn that Cynthia and her daughter Lauren Reyes-Grange have jointly written a sequel to Myrtle the Purple Turtle titled Myrtle’s Game, which expands upon the lesson of acceptance to include working and playing together in spite of our differences. The illustrations by Jo Robinson in both books are beautifully done; the colors vibrant and rich, the animals expressive. My hope is that there will be a entire series of Myrtle books to encourage young people to grow up leading more tolerant, happier lives. It is unfortunate that books like Myrtle the Purple Turtle and Myrtle’s Game did not exist back in my childhood days. They should be required reading in the classroom. I believe Myrtle is a great educational tool for teaching the Golden Rule. For all of us who share this one Earth, it is really the only one we need to remember.
News from the farm
The dark month of December has come and gone, a time of death and rebirth, the cold earth sleeping yet quietly incubating life for the coming spring. The first shoots of January’s daffodils were emerging in December, even as our old Willow cat took her last breath, joining the ranks of the sleeping. Come spring, her daffodils will bloom, and I will see her peering out from behind the golden cups, calling me to play. She loved the sun and its golden warmth.
Trees also come and go here. These old friends do not have the option of moving themselves out of harm’s way. These stoic individuals, rooted in place, must endure weather, pests and the whims of mankind. We lost our big black locust tree to construction equipment’s needs, but still have a smaller one which had grown from the roots of another locust lost in a windstorm back in 2006. I will remember the fragrant, creamy blossoms, and bees attracted to the heady scent and promise of nectar. The tree service company was requested to give the firewood to a family in need.
Other trees and some gardens were impacted by construction projects and equipment, and will need serious repair. A large redbud tree up front was lost as the result of a car going off the road and crashing through the tree, snapping it off at the base. These trees are beautiful, but seem to have brittle wood. I will not plant another one of these ornamental trees up front, although perhaps in the back if my cuttings from this fallen beauty manage to root. I had watched it grow over the last 15 years, having planted it and its smaller partner tree back in 2004 from roughly 1 foot high starts obtained from the National Arbor Day Foundation. The smaller partner tree also suffered some minimal damage, and we will see how it fares this summer.
The old black tartarian cherry tree still graces the back lot, minus some limbs and a few side roots. The garden there is intact, but has a gravel road running right past it now, and that bed will require attention and reworking very soon.
The days are noticeably longer now, although clouds and mists hold the winter’s chill; I must keep moving to stay warm out there. Daylilies have emerged, and are already several inches high. Some have divided beyond their original borders and will need moving to spots where I feel their summer beauty and protective nature would help some of the apple trees. I am acutely aware of the passage of time, and nature’s gathering surge; it is time to attend the gardens, trees and vines. She will not wait for me, and says I am already a bit late; catching up will be difficult. I give her a nod, and tell her I will do my best. Rick has already begun work in the vineyards.
News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms
The Feline Correspondents Desk was closed during December in honor and remembrance of fellow correspondent Willow. Mr. Nano , head of the Resident Feline Correspondent’s Desk, has asked correspondent Miss Blynken, to file a brief report of her observations from January, even though the farm photographer was unavailable to help her. Miss Blynken has consulted her notes and has agreed to share some of her entries that she feels may be noteworthy to readers, and hopes her words will suffice for lack of photos. Without further ado, correspondent Miss Blynken will present her report.
January 1, 2019
Dawn arrived, colorful and cold at 24 degrees. The undersides of clouds reflected the rose colors from the longer rays from the sun, still well below the horizon. A single planet and the crescent moon hung in a Maxfield Parrish blue sky. Even a minute or two makes a difference at the bookends of the day, the colors quickly taking on the shorter, brighter wavelengths of peach, cream and finally stark white. Our sky soon populated with clouds, leaving winter grey and filtered sunlight until the herd moved on up the valley, leaving mostly ice crystal cirrus, some formed by spreading early morning contrails. Every drop still clinging to tree, shrub, rosebush and blade of grass scintillates in the angled light, a good omen for the year.
January 4, 2019
A variably partly cloudy day reaching the low 50s, clouds just as soft looking as the air felt mild and springlike. Filaments of cirrus, high level ice clouds, marbled the blue above the breaks in river of moisture headed northeast.
I can see some stars overhead, but barn lights on the distant hills reveal a growing fog at ground level as the temperature falls.
January 5, 2019
A variably cloudy day with some periods of sun, peaking in the higher 40s. A freak wind squall came through this evening. I could see stars through patches of cloud and driving rain. A few strategic plastic cross member supports gave way, destroying the small greenhouse on the porch. Most of the strawberries and the tray of garlic starts survived. There will be a lot of work tomorrow cleaning up the area, and seeing what else gave way in the night.
January 12, 2019
A frosty 26 degrees under mostly clear skies this morning, warming into the high 40s. Everywhere daffodils and more ambitious winter shoots are poking above the soil, lured by the increasing daylight and relatively mild weather. By the old garage, daffodils will bloom soon in this protected space.
A clear calm, and cold evening in progress. It is already down in the 30s. An old friend, the constellation Orion, is overhead. I can pick out a few others.
January 15, 2019
Barely 32 this morning before 7:00 AM. The sky has been mostly overcast, with a few breaks to the south-southwest which seem to be filling in. The sun is attempting to burn a hole through the cloud cover in the southeast, and appears as a bright glowing orb behind sintered glass.
January 16, 2019
Barely 32 degrees under mostly cloudy skies at dawn. The sun rose about 5 minutes ago amid a clearing sky of passing smudges of cloud, spreading contrails and bright filamentous flows of cirrus. It is still, and peaceful.
The clearing skies of early morning did not last long, and our sun soon became a bright light behind a sintered glass disc before disappearing entirely behind a thickening cloud cover and light rain. Another raw day in the lower 40s.
January 17, 2019
A balmier 43 degrees this morning under mostly cloudy skies. The air felt as soft as a fuzzy cat’s tail. There were enough breaks in the clouds to allow the longer, redder rays to catch on the undersides of clouds. Sunrise was mantled in lavender and gold, quite pleasing to behold.
PM PST: Our high was somewhere in the mid 40s, with some morning sun, soon returning to silver-grey followed by charcoal grey, heavy skies and light rain. A stiff, biting wind from the south-south west made it feel colder than it was. The sun made a brief appearance again at sundown.
January 18, 2019
A chilly 34 degrees under generally overcast skies. Any hint of clearing has vanished in the east as the thickening clouds in the southwest slowly advance up the pass. The grey has a hint of blue steel to it today, making it feel colder than it is. The sun weakly shines through the veil of thinner cover in the southeast, as if a light source behind sintered glass. The winds are absent at ground level. Everything waits.
January 20, 2019
Mists have been wandering through the farm this morning, with a very light wind from the west at ground level. The neighboring properties where vegetation has been grazed down to nothing are rutted and flooded, the sort of mild winter conditions nutria would enjoy, but I haven’t seen them, or any sign of them, in a long time.
January 26, 2019
The first glimmers of eastern light at 6:37 AM are visible. A clear sky dawn graced with stars, planets and a bright half-moon overhead, the night’s citizens retreating as the light grows and spreads, chasing them westward. Barn lights on the distant hills glow softly in shades of blue-green and pale orange. I love the transitional times of the day, the time between the dark and the light. It is a cold one out there at 29 degrees on the porch thermometer. I can smell fireplaces burning, and some burning plastic amid the woodsmoke from folks burning things they should not be burning.
The mists thicken and rise, obliterating the hills except for the dark forms of trees higher up the slope, and the barn lights in shadow further down still glowing like beacons. The white icy sheen on the grass will disappear quickly once the sun has risen and temperatures rise. Our local forecast is for clouds and mid 50s. It remains to be seen what the day will actually bring.
January 27, 2019
35 degrees and a thick ground fog out there in the morning darkness. It must be clear above it all, as I can see the veiled, waning moon overhead.
A cold, damp day in the mid 40s in spite of some good filtered sun. The morning mists never quite cleared, and a mist roller crept down from the mountains to the east by afternoon, the cold breath of the mountains on a slow moving ground breeze that was palpable in its moisture content.
We are fully encased in palpable fog this evening, and I watched it writhe in the beam of a flashlight. On nights like these, fog feels like a living thing that could ingest one, and not leave a trace. It is already down in the 30s, and will be quite cold by morning.
January 30, 2019
A silver crayon morning at 28 degrees, is what Jack Frost’s handiwork looks like, cold and glittering lines upon this first page in morning’s sketchbook. Our skies are mostly clear except for thin, high clouds and contrails in the east, which are reflecting the peach colors emanating from below the horizon at this time. Even the thickening mists at ground level are taking on color as they form and rise. All is still, and frost covered, but will thaw as the sun climbs. Sunrise, as we see it here from the view of the geologic bowl in which this farm sits, is now at 8:05 AM, and old Sol is slowly working his way north along the horizon. At Equinox, sunrise will shine directly in the east window.
As always, we wish our readers a pleasant evening ahead, and safe travels to wherever their destination in life may lead them.
– Resident Feline Correspondent Blynken, reporting for Salmon Brook Farms
Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)
January has been a relatively quiet month musically, with construction projects (some more difficult and time consuming than initially thought) and family matters taking precedence.
If you are in the area and wish to see me play live, please visit the Performance Schedule page in the ring menu at the top of this post.
For those readers who are new or catching up, do visit the Salmon Brook Farms YouTube channel. Our first Tiny Farm Concerts one song music video was posted at the end of March, 2017. I am 15 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!
For those who have missed previous posts and wish to view the channel content, here are links to the previous two videos. There will be more videos when I can get back to this project.
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.
Lavinia and Rick Ross
Salmon Brook Records / Salmon Brook Farms