Our feature photo this spring is of a lively cluster of crabapple blossoms from April 25th.
It is said that change is the one constant in life. My responsibilities and activities have been rapidly increasing over the last year, bringing more change to my own. I will be posting the Salmon Brook Farms blog less often now, so I may be able to actually catch up on farm, music and winemaking projects, including updating the pages associated with this blog, work on the book that my dear friend, blogger and author Cynthia Reyes has been gently nudging me to write, as well as stay in touch with our readers and their own endeavors. The format will remain the same, but will now have a more seasonal focus. The feline correspondents may actually find time to compile their journal notes into real essays, at least that is what I have asked them to do. We thank all our readers who have stayed with us as the blog site enters its sixth year, and our lives evolve. Life’s adventure here in Oregon continues.
News from the farm
After a relatively mild December and January, we experienced an unusual amount of snow for our area in late winter. The brown, dried skeletons of lemon balm stalks and seed heads caught the fine snow in small tufts, icy inflorescences that did not last the day of our first snowfall.
Lured by increasing daylight and January’s relative warmth, irises and other early risers from the sleeping earth found themselves shivering in a frozen world. Green shoots, swelling buds and birdsong told of the coming spring, not far off, in spite of the cold and snow.
We found ourselves wielding snow shovels when the biggest storm hit, bringing back distant memories of life in another time back in New England. Snow has a way of softening sight and sound, lulling one into a sense of peace and tranquility. Dark forms of conifers, frosted white, loomed tall amid the mists and falling snow, giving the appearance of a scene one might typically find on a Christmas card. Little to no traffic except for snow plows passed by on the main road that day; I could hear birds singing somewhere off to the south. Shrubs and blueberry bushes were heavily bent earthward under the weight while daffodils by the old garage stood tall and perky up against the building where snow did not accumulate. There is something peaceful about watching snow fall, if one does not have to travel anywhere. Distances shrink, boundaries are softened, sounds and colors muted in a womb-like enclosure of white, a death waiting for rebirth in a state of colorless tranquility.
Many days the surrounding hills and southwest pass were completely hidden behind the soft veil of light silver-grey, tendrils of fog curling and writhing before me, examining my presence. I could feel the water droplets that comprised it settling on my face, each drop an individual entity. Many small streams from melting snow and rain flowed toward the low areas, rippling and sparkling in the late winter sunlight.
Early March brought many cold mornings in the low 20s. Looking up into the starry blackness one such morning at 5:20 AM, I could almost feel the heat escaping from everything, including myself, radiating out into space. On mornings like this I have a much greater appreciation of our position, third planet from the sun, orbiting in a habitable zone, and just how much the sun’s warmth makes our present life here possible.
Spring arrived, as always, amid a riot of rainbows, catkins, blooms and new life in all forms. I found several osoberry bushes in the back lot, one of the first bloomers.
The annual symphony of chorus frogs performed magnificently in the many late winter and vernal pools on this farm we call home. Tree swallows have also returned, gracefully swooping about the farm and perching on the wires. Out in the back lot, blue camas are flowering. Cold hardy dandelions have been showing their faces about the farm for some time, and forming seed heads.
Broccoli, sheltered under mini-greenhouses in the garden all winter, have been providing nutritious greens and stalks. They have started flowering, along with last year’s kale.
Old Man Winter and his companion Jack Frost have been slow to leave, and still send us an occasional night below freezing, even though the daytime temperature may rise into the 60s and 70s. They are headed north, climbing higher into the mountains as the sun rises further north along the eastern horizon. The air still feels crisp and cold here under the warm, golden light, their cold breath lingering in the foothills and shaded areas of the farm as April comes to a close.
News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms
The Feline Correspondents Desk is back at work after a brief hiatus. Mr. Nano, head of the Resident Feline Correspondent’s Desk, has asked correspondent Miss Abby to file an essay about her observations from late winter through early spring, and about life in general as seen from the perspective of advanced years. Correspondent Abby has consulted her notes and has agreed to share the wisdom of her 17 years with readers. Without further ado, correspondent Miss Abby will present her essay.
I have reached a venerable age, having traveled around the sun and observed the changing of the seasons 17 times, although I still promptly greet all guests, and make them feel welcome in my home. I spend more time looking within, and dreaming, not only of what was, but where I am going in the years that are left to me.
With age comes that quiet realization one cannot jump as high, or as accurately as one did in their youth, and that to remain engaged in life, one must find other avenues of self-expression, while attempting to keep a positive demeanor as long as possible. The day will come, as it comes for all of us, when it is time to relinquish our past, with all the associated memories and emotions, and look forward into that bright abyss from which there is no return, following those before us. That is the nature of life and its cycles, as it plays out on this Earth, in this universe. There is no sadness, no regrets, only what is. Those to whom we mattered will remember, their memories of us evoked by some random sight, sound or scent, traveling on starlight, or distantly seen the moon’s soft, ghostly glow. We all walk among ghosts, including our own.
Winter’s dark season has passed once again, barn lights on the distant hills glowing through the mists and snowfall like stars in hues of orange high pressure sodium and blue-green mercury vapor. Lichens, swollen with winter rain, helped catch and retain the fine coating of snow; trees, especially apple and plum, stood frosted with an icing of the first snowfall of the season. Mornings often came in silver-grey, soft and quiet. Green grass in the wetter areas poked up through the covering, a juxtaposition of spring green and winter white. After sunrise, milky white mists would coalesce and rise, floating up the hills and skyward with the sun.
Spring came slowly, stealthily to the farm, changing the face of sunrise and sunset. The white mists of dawn ran like a river of spilled milk along the base of the hills to the south; dark forms of trees rose up from the vapors, waiting for sunrise to give them color and substance. The time between first light and the first rays of emerging sun is a magical time, quickly changing its character and mood on the threshold of a new day. Crepuscular wildlife can be seen going about their business on the farm. In evening, the final rays of sun as it disappears below the horizon mark day’s end, and the transition into night.
The sun has made good progress northward towards its position at solstice along the eastern horizon. High ice clouds and contrails catch the longer wavelengths of pink and rose; each partly cloudy morning makes a different yet equally spectacular entrance in form and hue. Once the transitional colors have passed, the blue dome above is marbled with stark white, that in itself a miracle of Nature. Down below, filtered sun streams across spring’s emerald green growth; heavily dewed grass scintillates from a myriad tiny prisms. The mornings are lighter now as old Sol moves northward along the eastern horizon. Come solstice, he will be rising behind the trees on a neighboring property and more difficult to spot peering just over the horizon.
One evening I watched as thickening contrails and filamentous cirrus clouds had not yet occluded an almost full moon in the eastern sky, a ghostly white orb marbled with grey, like quartz tumbled by the sea. A chorus of frogs was singing in the vernal pools as the sun dipped below the horizon, and night approached. Somewhere up there above the chorus of late winter frogs and cloud cover that night, the moon was sailing in the blackness of space, staring back at her companion, this marbled bright blue gem called Earth.
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 Abby, reporting for Salmon Brook Farms
Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)
February, March were a relatively quiet month musically, with construction projects (some more difficult and time consuming than initially thought) and family matters taking precedence. I will be blog posting less often now, so I may be able to actually catch up on 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.
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 16 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
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.
Lavinia and Rick Ross
Salmon Brook Records / Salmon Brook Farms