Posted tagged ‘pine needles’

“The most serious charge which can be brought against New England is not Puritanism but February.”

February 19, 2017

Today is a bit of a gift from Mother Nature, and considering how many times I cursed her this winter, I am surprised by her generosity. It is sunny and warm, even springlike. A few puffy clouds add texture to the blue sky. A breeze ruffles the brown leaves. It is a day to be outside. I’m working on getting there.

My neighbor put my newspaper on the front steps for me this morning. I saw it and one other paper when I opened the door. The other paper is the Cape Times from February 13th. I have no idea where he found it. I didn’t  miss a paper. I figure it must be my neighbor’s, and it got tossed here with the snow when her driveway was shoveled.

Small mounds of snow are still visible but only on the corners of the streets. Between the rain and the above freezing temperatures, the snow had no chance. I’m glad it’s mostly gone.

My front lawn, mostly on one side, is a total mess. It is covered with branches and needles from the tree sized branch which fell. There are long gashes on the grass. I’m thinking that whole side of the lawn may need a reboot.

This is school vacation week. I used to like traveling to one place for the whole week. My mother and I spent this week in Rome on our last vacation together. We saw it all. One of my favorites was the catacombs, a couple of bus rides and a long walk away.

Each night we’d have a drink in the bar before going to our room. My mother had cognac. That was a shock. My mother was a whiskey and coke drinker. When I mentioned my shock, my mother said it was vacation mode when anything goes. I loved that.

My week will be quiet. Actually, the rest of February will be quiet. I have an empty dance card until March.

Gracie needs to be fed, and I need to get dressed in my outside the house clothes. We are going out to enjoy the day.

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“Tradition is a fine thing. Nothing comes out of the blue, except perhaps thunderbolts and they are not really very useful things.”

November 6, 2016

Today is dark and rainy. The street is now covered with wet leaves and pine needles. They’ll dry then be blown away. My lawn too is covered in brown pine needles and has mostly disappeared. Every small breeze drops yellow oak leaves to the deck. I can watch them fall from the window. My den light is lit giving the room a cozy feel. Gracie and Maddie are asleep. I love mornings like this.

This week I have a meeting on Tuesday, and that is the only entry on my dance card. The rest of the week is wide open. I have some stuff I could do like go through the Christmas presents piled on a guest room bed and catalogue them by person so I can know what I still need to buy. I love to find just the right gifts for people, and it takes a bit of shopping to do that, and Christmas isn’t really all that far away. I did some Christmas shopping in Ghana, and I’m glad for that as the gifts will be unique. I bought yards and yards of traditional Ghanaian GTP cloth to be used to make presents. Now I wish I’d even bought more.

Some gifts have become part of the Christmas tradition. I give everyone a bag filled with smaller gifts including a new ornament with some sort of a personal touch like a fish for my brother-in-law the fly fisherman. The kids also get Christmas books. I give all the women earrings or some sort of jewelry. This year the jewelry is from Ghana. I buy soap for every bag like lobsters or starfish. I also try to find fun gifts. I bought an old fishing drop line for my nephew, a gift of memory for him. There are bigger gifts for the kids. The younger boys get Hess trucks. They are on the way. My only grandniece is getting a doll and a dress from Ghana. My nieces and nephews get gift certificates stuffed into their gift bags, something I started doing when they got into their 20’s and finding just the right gift got too difficult. They love the small gifts and opening the bags is always done on Christmas Eve. It is the tradition, and my family is big on Christmas tradition.

“You know, sloth is a sin,” he says softly. “I prefer to think of it as an adorable animal.”

November 13, 2015

Okay, I know this is really later than usual, but I slept far later than usual. I had one of those I am not tired nights and was up until after 3 so I didn’t wake up until 10:30 then I had to perform my morning rituals: making the coffee, getting and reading the two papers, feeding the animals, reading my e-mail and going through yesterday’s mail. Finally I’m ready, with coffee in hand, to begin writing.

The day is sunny but quite breezy. Pine needles are dropping from the big tree in the front. They look like the start of a snow storm without much punch, one where the biggest flakes fall but only for a while. A few needles landed on me when I went by to get the papers. On the way back it took me a while as I was watching the mini-tornado of leaves whirling down the street. Magic came to mind. I could see Mickey in his magician’s hat and robe moving the wand in a circle to make the leaves dance. I stayed and watched until they whirled their last then fell to the ground.

The week thus far has been busy with something each day, but today I am a sloth. I haven’t anywhere I need to go or anything I need to do. My back will enjoy the day of leisure as it, of late, has been vehemently complaining about the loads of laundry I did on Wednesday then carried up two flights of stairs and the shopping and cooking I did yesterday. My friends came over for a birthday dinner and to open their gifts. I had a list of things I needed to buy. One of them was a yellow pepper or so I thought. When I got home, I saw the recipe called for an orange pepper. I know there is no difference except in color, but I can’t figure how I read one and wrote the other, but the color didn’t really matter. Dinner, Mexican chicken stew, was still delicious.

On my table is a mile high (slight exaggeration) pile of catalogues. I have thrown many away, but the ones in the pile have been saved as possible fodder for Christmas shopping. I will do the shopping from the comfort of my couch then I’ll take a nap. Shopping can be exhausting.

“Welcome, winter. Your late dawns and chilled breath make me lazy, but I love you nonetheless.”

November 12, 2015

Cloudy still, but finally the rain has stopped. Even the wind of last night has calmed and everything is quiet. Some leaves still hang from oak branches despite all that weather. Pine needles are everywhere covering lawns, driveways and my deck. If I had awakened from a coma and looked out the window, I’d know it was fall.

Each season has its own identity, but the identities sometimes blur when moving from one season to another. A few weeks ago was late summer and shirt-sleeve weather. My friends and I ate on the deck. Winter then sneaked in for a bit and we had temperatures in the high 30’s. Now, though, summer has finally gone and fall is here. The days are in the 50’s but the nights are colder, into the high 40’s. It isn’t yet jacket weather. A sweatshirt will suffice.

I saw where many places got snow: my sister got 3 or 4 inches in Colorado, but the mountains got far more. She said it was cold, down to the teens at night. It was sort of a run of the mill storm for her because her first snow is usually in late October or early November. She says 3 or 4 inches is nothing. I agree. I think of a snowstorm with so little snow as a sweeper, a broom instead of a shovel.

When I was a kid, any amount of snow was worthwhile. A huge storm was always the best as that would mean no school and a day spent outside building forts, throwing snowballs or sledding down the hill. A storm of tree or four inches meant fun after school, but it also brought the horrors of snow boots and ski pants. I could never get my shoes out of my boots without taking the boots off and pulling the shoes out. The ski pants went under my uniform skirt. I hated the look of the skirt over the pants, but my mother insisted as my legs would be so red from the snow and the cold when I’d get home if I didn’t wear them.

I can remember sitting at my desk looking out the window and seeing branches bent lower from the snow, the outside windows sills holding snow piles and snow falling from an occasional squall. I think all of us, my classmates and I, spent the day sighing.

“Writing in English is like throwing mud at a wall.”

November 7, 2015

Yesterday and sometime during the night it rained. The wind was so strong my deck, my lawn and my driveway have disappeared, buried in fallen leaves and pine needles. The sky is still overcast and the day is damp and cooler than it has been. Yesterday was close to 70˚. I even had windows open including my bedroom all night.

A loud noise woke me up last night. When I turned on the light, I found Gracie had rolled out of bed to the floor. I hurried to check her. She seemed fine and had no problem jumping back onto the bed. This morning I checked her again, and she seems fine. I suspect she was as shocked as I was. Fern looked, didn’t move and quickly went back to sleep.

Yesterday morning there was a head-on collision on the Sagamore Bridge. The front page of the Cape Times had a blurb which said the driver of the box truck was seriously injured. The inside, more detailed article, quoted the CEO of the company saying the driver was injured but was okay. It wasn’t the fact of the accident which caught my attention but rather the cargo of the two trucks. One carried fish and the other cranberries. I have to think the cape would be just about the only place where fish and cranberries would be involved in the same accident. The driver was concerned about his two beautiful bluefin tuna. The description of the accident by a police officer in Bourne gave me a chuckle, “Cranberries were observed covering the entire roadway in either direction on the bridge.” After the offending cranberries were removed, the bridge was reopened.

I do love reading my papers, but I often find the language wanting and sometimes even silly. Sadly a woman’s burned body was found on Wednesday near railroad tracks in Bridgewater. Her hands and feet were bound. According to the article, police speculated this was a homicide. There were a couple of quotes from people living in the neighborhood. This was my favorite and clearly indicated the author was starved for copy, “It’s very disturbing to have a dead body dumped next to the house you grew up in.” You think?

“A cheese may disappoint. It may be dull, it may be naive, it may be oversophisticated. Yet it remains cheese, milk’s leap toward immortality.”

September 21, 2015

Last night was cold, not chilly but downright cold. This week will be cool every day and cold at night, hints of the season to come. My windows were all shut last night, and I was warm and cozy huddled under the blankets. Today I’m wearing a long sleeve shirt. I can’t remember the last time I wore one.

My lawn is cluttered with fallen leaves and bunches of pine needles. The flowers are just about gone, their colors fading away. I always miss color the most when winter comes. It is a drab season. Christmas is winter’s only salvation. It brings light and color back but only for a short while, never long enough. Last year the thought of winter’s darkness returning was too much so I decided to keep color alive. I left two strands of colored lights wrapped around the deck rail. They have been lit every night since Christmas, and every night I marvel at the colors and how brightly they shine. It is the one spot winter doesn’t dim.

I’m getting the urge to bake, something I haven’t done in a while. I snip recipes and save them in a bulging folder. The recipes are in no order so I go through them one at a time looking for the perfect recipe for my mood or for the occasion. My friend is coming over tomorrow afternoon for a few drinks and I’ll make a couple of appetizers. I have been through the file and have three possibilities. I’m leaning towards roasted figs and prosciutto as one of them then maybe a charcuterie as the second. I bought a honeycomb a bit back and I think it would be perfect with the meat and the cheese. I guess I’ve made my choices. Next I’ll make my list.

I enjoy making dishes I’ve never made before. I’ve been lucky: nobody has ever spit any out or been rushed to the hospital. Most times the food disappears, and many times I get asked for the recipes. I always give them. I consider that the highest of compliments.

“Nature bestows her own, richest gifts And, with lavish hands, she works in shifts…”

June 8, 2015

This morning is one of those the house is colder than outside mornings. I went to my neighbors for our usual Monday language lesson wearing a sweatshirt. The day is so warm the sweatshirt came off and we sat outside in the sun. A wonderfully cooling breeze is blowing. It’s a pretty day.

I am still amazed by Cape Cod. In the warm days of late spring, the wild roses in whites and reds are everywhere. They grow on the edges of fields and woods and in front of old captains’ houses. I have one which has grown up the trunk of a tall tree. My wild rose bushes have no shape but grow willy nilly, wild and tall.

The cape has several old seafarers’ houses each marked with a plaque in front with a clipper ship and a date on it. Those captains’ houses are mostly half capes with sloping roofs. Their shingles are gray and weathered by years of wind and salt.

The early morning air sometimes smells of the ocean even this far away. On those mornings, I linger on the deck. When I cross the bridge over the river on a morning errand, I sometimes see fog spread across the water and quahoggers outlined in the mist.

The warmth of June has brought gardens filled with color. Short white picket fences stand behind them like sentinels. Some houses have carefully tended lawns while there are others with shards of shells in front mimicking a lawn. Pine needles spread across the front yards are lawn stand-ins especially at seasonal rentals. It seems we always have a breeze, mostly from the south. The nights are beautiful, bright and starlit. They perfectly complement the loveliness of the days. I always think how lucky I am to live here.

I remember spring when I was a kid and shedding my winter coat and riding on my bike to school, but it is always summer I remember the best in my hometown. The heat seemed to rise from the roads and the sidewalks. It rose in waves, and I swear I could see it though now I expect I saw a mirage. Summer days were never quiet. The insects made the most noise. Kids were always outside. The degree of heat dictated the amount of activity. Really hot days meant sitting under a tree in the only shade around. Cooler days meant bikes and roller skates and games of tag. My mother always kept a cold drink in her aluminum pitcher in the fridge. Dinner was light on those hot nights. We even could keep playing after dinner. Street lights were no longer alerts to go home. Late June and the coming of summer were celebrations when I was a kid.