Music and Farm, The Cycle of Life

Rick & Lavinia Ross, Salmon Brook Farms – Winter 2021

Our feature photo this season is of a golden crowned kinglet that paid a visit on November 16th.  Early that chilly 34 degree morning, I heard a thud on my office window and looked up to see that this little bird had conked himself on it. I went out and collected him off the window;  he was upside down, hanging on to the sill by the little toenails on one foot. I warmed him in my hands for a bit, and got some quick photos of him.

Top view – golden crown with orange stripe is a male.

He was alert, though he did not want to leave my hand, finally walking up my arm and trying to stay perched on my sleeve. His toenails are designed for gripping, and they did a good job. I did manage to get him off onto an old raisin canister, which I placed in a paper bag so he could warm up until he got his senses back.

He finally walked onto a raisin canister.

I knew those old raisin canisters were good for something.

By the time the sun had risen above the mists, he had flown off.  Sometimes Nature gives us a close look at our fellow creatures. This one was indeed a brave and regal little bird.  I was pleased to be able to help him on his way back to his own kind.

News from the farm

The autumn passed quickly here, and we found ourselves back in the rainy season again, long days of grey and wet punctuated by weak, low-angled sun.  After the summer’s above normal heat and drought,  we do not mind it, though it makes stargazing and moon viewing difficult.   It is a transitional time of year to enjoy dawn as well as the post sundown sky in all their vivid colors.   I have tried to slow down, and rest more, though somehow I am busier than ever.  The new wine has been cold stabilizing on the lees, and I have been too occupied to rack it off.  It will be fine until I can get to it within the next couple of weeks.

Dawn’s pink clouds December 4th.

Trees and sky on December 4th.

Post sundown sky on November 25th.

Gopher mound soil, freshly dug and pulverized by those industrious rodents,  was collected for making grape vine cuttings, both table grapes and wine grapes.  We keep cuttings on hand to replace vines that fail, and to propagate some of the more interesting varieties.  Summer is hard on new plantings, which require a lot of water to get established.

Grape cuttings waiting out the winter.

I bought a used van for escaping with all the humans, cats and a few supplies.  In case of fire, this vehicle could hold all that.   I was going to call the van “Voyager“, but a relative has christened it “Jupiter 2” instead, and the name seems to be sticking.  Old Seabisquit the Subaru is garaged, waiting for repair work while my left arm and shoulder are waiting to heal up from some hard work and overuse.  For those readers who have wondered and previously commented, or may be wondering anew , I spell Seabisquit the Subaru with a “q”, not a “c”, as it is only a name, names can be spelled different ways, and I wanted it to be different from the famous thoroughbred, whose story I read as a child.  I don’t plan on changing it for anyone.

For GP Cox at Pacific Paratrooper, here is the winter 2021 photo of the coastal sequoia planted in memory of your son Michael some years ago.  The tree, 10 years old, is now making cones!  Cone formation is a new milestone in the life of this handsome tree.

Micheal’s tree, tall and proud.

Note pine cones at the top. First year we have seen them!

A lot of daffodils went in this autumn, and a few new redwoods given to us by a tree farmer were transplanted into pots for the winter.  Even in this dark time, green shoots of daffodils and dutch irises are poking their heads out of the cold, damp earth, answering a call far older than mankind. Lichens, swollen with rain water, festoon trees in a greenish-grey, covering branches, logs and stumps. It is winter in the Pacific Northwest.

News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms

It has been a difficult two years.  Loss and isolation have touched so many we know.  Mr. Nano, our head correspondent, tends to look on the lighter side of life, and has decided to share his thoughts on the season with readers.  His enthusiastic spirit continues to brighten darker days, reminding us that everything in life is temporary, our basic needs are met, and there is nothing much to complain about.

Mr. Nano, ever watchful.

Nightfall comes early, and dawn’s first light a glimmer well past rising time.  Barn and utility lights glow like earthbound stars on the surrounding hills;  those in the shadow of the eastern ridge still blazing for a while after the first blue light of early morning has faded into day.

Cloud cover obscures much of the moon’s activities, though at full moon, she is so bright, all appears visible out there in the vineyards and orchard to the east, and I can see all that moves.  A spider patrols a web she has built off of the porch thermometer, and can be observed in weather one might think too cold for such activities.  Many generations of her kind have taken up residence there for the winter.

Snow comes most years, at least some, often driven by a stiff west wind that plays a pensive tune in the chimes on the porch.  Snow fall comes in many sizes and forms, quietly covering the normal green of winter grass, a reflective blanket of white.  Even at new moon, when no moon is visible in the night sky, visibility in general increases, and much can still be seen.

The rain returns soon enough, a gentle staccato on the metal roof.  Snow melts, green widens and coalesces.  A tree frog calls somewhere not far from the window.  It is the ebb and flow winter weather in the Pacific Northwest.

– Correspondent Mr. Nano, reporting from the Feline Desk of  Salmon Brook Farms

We wish our readers safe travels to wherever their destination in life may lead them.

Mount Hood as seen from the plane some years ago on the way into PDX..


Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)

I have been able to play music out on a limited basis this past year and will continue to do so again in 2022, as the Covid situation permits.  If you are in the area and wish to stop by and see me play somewhere, do check out the Performance Schedule page.

For those readers who missed previous posts or are new to this blog, I am posting on mostly seasonal basis now. Hopefully someday, I may be able to actually catch up on the many projects, including updating the pages associated with this blog, as well as stay in touch with all of you. I will keep the performance schedule updated regularly. New videos will follow as soon as I can get to them.  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.

Those who know me well also know I am a big fan of the late Kate Wolf, recorded a few of her songs on my last CD, and I will be recording some more of her music in the future as well.  The Minstrel is one of her songs I learned a while ago.  Here it is adapted and arranged for the 12 string guitar tuned to Open G.

Full Circle, one of my own songs, was written in the aftermath of 9/11/2001 and is a song about love and enjoying life while one can.  I’ve played it out all the intervening years, and recorded here recently with the lights down, much like a typical evening here I’d be practicing.  It is a bit dark, but I make no apologies.  There are no flashy graphics, just one woman, one voice, and a guitar.  The guitar featured here is my old Ventura 12 string.  I bought this old friend at a kiosk in a mall for $100 back in 1977.  For those interested in lutherie, this guitar is a bit different in that it has a zero fret up by the nut.  To my knowledge, this brand of guitars, which were made in Japan, are not made anymore, and I have only come across one other, not nearly constructed as well.  I keep the Ventura tuned to DGDGBD or DGDGA#D.  Flat the 3rd and you get G minor.  Alternate tunings are easier for small hands and present a bigger box of acoustical paint from which to draw upon.    I use Martin Acoustic SP extra light phosphor bronze strings on the Ventura, Martin Acoustic SP  light gauge phosphor bronze strings on the Martin guitar, And D’Addario light gauge coated phosphor bronze on the Guild.

I am 18 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!   The Orchard, our distributor, has placed some of our music from the Keepsake CD on Spotify and 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 due to digital rights content. Readers can also access some songs from the CD via the old IUMA archive site.

Rick retired from playing music some years ago, but he still practices, and plays a few tunes at some of my shows.

Rick tending vines.

Lavinia and Rick Ross
Salmon Brook Records / Salmon Brook Farms

I leave readers with an old Irish blessing.  Until we meet again.

May the road rise up to meet you.

May the wind always be at your back.

May the sun shine warm upon your face,

and rains fall soft upon your fields.

And until we meet again,

May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

A very local rainbow!