Our feature photo for May is of the line of apple trees near the house, earlier this month when they were all sporting a profusion of blooms. This particular day opened with an assortment of cumulus, cirrus and altocumulus clouds painted in textured strokes of white mixed with the pastel colors of dawn on a canvas of early morning blue. The scene continually shifted as the day progressed on into evening: thin, high cirrus clouds, towering cumulus, developing stratus and distant nascent nimbus. The scent of earth and new vegetation clung to moisture-laden air moisture as flashes of lightning appeared to the southeast of us over the Cascades, followed by the low roll of thunder. Although no storms passed directly overhead, the quiet stillness gave one the feeling that the evening was waiting for something.
News from the farm
The month of May arrived, cold and wet, at our little farm in the Cascade foothills. Pacific chorus frogs provided nightly music, the annual symphony to accompany life continuing in all it cycles. The days grew steadily longer, punctuated with sunshine and dry days, even as the temperature fluctuated. Seeds that had been started earlier in the season under plant lights and on heating mats in the old garage grew steadily, and most of them have now graduated to life in the greenhouse on the porch, hardening off before continuing the next phase of their life in the main garden. The apple trees were particularly showy, adorned with more pink and white blossoms that I can remember. I recall a poem by Robert Frost, “Good-bye and Keep Cold”. Perhaps the long, cold winter has been good for them, and we will be rewarded with a good harvest.
The brightly colored trumpets of daffodils slowly gave way to the deeper and quieter colors of irises. Roses and daylilies are now assuming their strategic position as color guards in the garden, standing tall above ox eye daisy, dandelion and buttercup growing wild in the yard. The roses still show signs of black spot fungus from the cool wet spring; later blooms will be more exuberant, ruffled skirts flaring wide like flamenco dancers.
Clear mornings bring a creamsicle colored eastern sky as well as the deep lavender and rose colors of receding darkness in the west. Mists begin to rise and coalesce, and either drift away up over the mountains, or very quickly spread like spilled milk into an overcast sky for most of the morning. Sun breaking through the cover stirs up a good breeze that sails us into the afternoon, and the daytime temperature may reach into the 80s on some days.
Work in the garden can continue after dinner during these longer days. I feel the air temperature drop as the sun sinks further behind the hills to the west, which has now taken on the hues of early morning. I stop and observe the color change unfold above as the night progresses. The growing moon with its thin, bright crescent and illuminated silhouette, appears like a giant eye trained on the greater universe, set against the Maxfield Parrish colors of last light. All is as it should be at this time, a moment to record in mind’s eye, a memory to cherish.
News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms
Our resident feline correspondents are busy this month working diligently on their assignments, although in their case, it is often difficult to distinguish working from loafing. Correspondent Nano has contacted the Sicilian feline correspondents regarding a story they have been working on this spring, the story of Lucky, and how he came to live at the olive farm there.
Before turning this section of the newsletter over to Sicilian Feline Correspondent Lucky, Mr. Nano would like to introduce readers to editor, author, teacher and musician Lorraine Anderson. Lorraine can be found at Earth & Eros, http://earth-and-eros.blogspot.com/ Lorraine updates Earth & Eros twice a year at the solstices, and can also be found at http://www.ecoeditoronline.com/
Without further ado, Mr. Nano presents Sicilian Feline Correspondent Lucky, who has filed the report for May.
There are times when sheer luck and circumstance save the less fortunate of us from an untimely demise. My own astute and compassionate human rescuer spied me stumbling about on the streets of our little town here in Sicily. My odd behavior having caught her attention, she observed me as I repeatedly fell off the sidewalk into the street, noting that I was hugging the curb as a reference point. This determined angel, whom I was unable to see or appreciate, swiftly came to me and lifted me up, saving me from certain death. I was so frightened, however, that I scratched and clawed her, trying to escape. Fortunately for me, she had an iron grip as well as compassionate heart. I found myself incarcerated, although I later learned that I had been rescued and instated on their farm as Lucky, Prince of la Casa delle 36 Zampe, as the House of 36 Paws is known in Italian. And Lucky me, I have not one, but two doting humans!
After several trips to a medical facility and two surgeries to remove my eyes that had been damaged beyond repair, I am now free of chronic eye infections. The kind veterinarian, now known to me as my Auntie Rita, took very good care of me as I learned to adjust. It has been more than four years now, and I am quite acclimated to my indoor and outdoor surroundings; I have even climbed trees! Lulu, my house-mate and fellow correspondent, is the most attentive and playful of my fellow feline companions, and is an expert at the game of Cat Rolling, a game where Lulu rushes me and makes me roll over. I am aware there are at least four or five other feline correspondents living outside on this farm, and I have a hard time keeping them straight.
My duties as the Prince of the House are many. My most important function is napping in one of my many favorite spots, followed by making demands of my humans as only a cat of my ranking can do. Keeping Bob, Hilda and Little Girl, the three big dogs, properly respectful of me requires more energy, resulting in additional napping. Little Girl and Hilda have learned to give me a wide berth; Bob, however, knows that he must greet me quickly then retreat before I give him the royal greeting, a stiff nose-biff. In my spare time, I oversee tending of the olive trees and the garden, investigating the many fascinating sounds and odors outside. The bees are having a go at the second batch of blooming lavender, among other things. The olive trees are loaded with blossoms this year and we hope nothing goes wrong before the fruit is set. A bad rainstorm would really impede the pollination.
Although I am blind, my hearing is highly acute; the many sounds of the farm, including birds as they call and flit through the trees and lizards and small mammals as they rustle in the grass, paint a detailed acoustic image of my world.
My fellow correspondents take me on short excursions through the fence to land they tell me is owned by a neighboring human. My own people watch over me as best they can. I am, however, very good at hiding from them. Not a day goes by when I don’t hear their plaintive cries of “Lucky, Lucky where are you?” I have a very good life and I am indeed Lucky in both name and happy circumstance.
I would like to close my report by introducing readers to our friend and house musician Patrizia Capizzi. She is a dear friend, talented musician and animal lover. Readers can find her at https://www.youtube.com/user/MyBlueBossa
– Sicilian Feline Correspondent Lucky, reporting from the House of 36 Paws.
Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)
Readers, please do take a moment to visit Patricia Capizzi’s site listed above.
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! I have received a request for a video of “Believe in Tomorrow” from the “Keepsake” CD, so that task will be in my work queue. Having just come through Memorial Day weekend, I opted to post a video of “Remembered Goodbyes”, which is also on the original CD. The CD version of this instrumental also features Jim Lamontagne on fretless bass.
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