Thursday, October 30, 2008

Hunting and Baking Bread

Walking and Hunting

Today Naomi and I took a walk to the marsh at one of the corners of our property. I decided to take the gun along for the walk since hunting season is open. I figured that if a buck was willing to stand and watch us long enough for me to take a shot, then I should have the gun along just to oblige him. Naomi is fond of venison and tolerates the killing part that is necessary to indulge her fondness. She is not at all squeamish and has helped skin all sorts of game including a bear I shot a number of years ago.
I was looking for deer sign, of which there was the usual amount for this time of year in my neighborhood. Most of the sign is near the fields and house where the deer like to eat the crab apples, flowers, and the clover from the lawn. It's better eating than in the woods.
There was no sign, along the path we took, of the coming rut. The rut makes bucks careless and less risk averse, which increases the odds in the hunter's favor. Bucks also create an assortment of rut specific sign that is pretty easy to see in the woods and indicates their presence and patterns of their behavior.

Baking Bread

When we returned from our walk, I decided to bake some bread. My favorite is something called "Posy's Russian Black Bread". It is made with cornmeal, chocolate, molasses, mashed potatoes, whole wheat flour, and rye flour. It is a little complicated to make and remains quite sticky during the kneading process but is well worth it because it is so delicious! There is something very sensual about the smells, texture, and resiliency of the dough as it rises. It becomes firm, elastic, and very responsive to each push of the heel of my hand. Yes, that is flour on my stomach and I should wear an apron!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

First Snow and Shelling Beans

First snow is always an exciting time. Of course, when the first snow is this early and this little, one can count on it disappearing soon. Fall will continue for probably another month before we get the first snow which will really settle us into winter for the duration. But this first snow is like the flashing yellow signal on the crosswalk - hurry up and get to the other side because winter will be 'truckin' on through' pretty soon. Yes, those Adirondack Chairs do have to go into the barn before real winter sets in.
First snow is also a great gift for getting out into the woods with the rifle to see where the deer are and what their patterns are this season in anticipation of the serious hunting to begin with the rutting season coming up.
But, today, the first snow seems to penetrate coldness into my bones and make me hunger for hot soup lunches and the warm wood stove. Maybe this is because of the blustery winds, continued flurries, and the fact that everything is so wet from the ample rains of the last few days. It will be a good day for an afternoon nap.

Shelling Beans

We also are busy shelling our dried bean crop. This year I grew more dried beans than I ever have before. They are mostly still waiting for Naomi and me to finish up the shelling process. We could have thrashed them outside on a big tarp, but somehow we always seem to opt for the slower method of opening each pod by hand and stripping the beans away. The picture is of the pile of plants with pods attached on a tarp in my 'office' upstairs in the cabin. I grew several different kinds - Navy, Pinto, Kidney, Jacobs Cattle. It is fun to have a variety for various soups, salads, chilies, etc. Naomi is busy shelling while I'm writing this!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Cape Ann, Massachusetts - gathering compost

Each fall, after our rental season is over, Naomi and I take a trip to the New England Coast for a little R&R. The last few years, I take the occasion to gather some seaweed as compost for my garden. I understand that seaweed can offer the garden many trace elements that the garden doesn't ordinarily get from regular land based compost. I also like it because it is very fibrous and takes a long time to completely break down, thus adding good tilth to the soil.
It makes the car smell like the sea on the way back home! I take this as another advantage - prolongs the vacation.

Cape Ann Oct. '08

Wind whipped waves splayed
against a gently sloped beach

Each erupting from below,
Animated by desire to break free

Is the whole ocean conspiring,
Throwing itself upon the land?

Complicit wind shears the crest
Wresting desperate drops aloft

Thrilled by towering waves above me,
Trembling at the thought of rules broken

"Thus shall you come and no farther,
And here shall your proud wave be Stopped."
Job 38:11

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Birthday Party

It was Tovah's second birthday last Friday. She had a great birthday party on Sunday afternoon which Naomi and I attended along with her other grandparents and assorted friends and friend's parents. There was not a melt-down among the attendees. In the accompanying video (all the way at the bottom of this post) you get to see most of the people who attended the party. Bracha was still visiting from Israel and played guitar and sang for us.

Monday, October 13, 2008


And so, It is Sukkot!
The pictures were taken at the time that we built the Sukkah and relaxed with our cousin, Bracha, from Israel - just after Yom Kippur. This is my favorite holiday - celebrating the harvest and camping out. It really connects with the land and is a perfect environmental holiday. The Pilgrims self consciously modeled their Thanksgiving holiday after Sukkot.
During the holiday one eats meals and sleeps (weather permitting) in a three sided hut reminiscent of an
Adirondack leanto. Traditionally, the Sukkah is decorated with the seven agricultural species of the Land of Israel. One also waves, in six directions including up and down, a Lulav and Etrog as they are held together in hand. The lulav is basically a palm branch with myrtle branches on one side and willow branches on the other. The trees can symbolize fruitfullness, life giving water, and sensual beauty and strength. The Etrog is a fruit, somewhat like a lemon, which is grown in Israel. It is citrously fragrant, beautiful, and has the pistil remaining on the end. Just to be sure the symbolism is not missed, the Rabbis ruled that the Etrog must be turned just before the waving so that the pistil is pointed in the direction of the waving. It is no mere accident that the Etrog played an important part in European Jewish folk traditions as a fertility enhancer for women.

Observations and Reflections while sitting in my Sukkah

I sit in my Sukkah

Air expectantly still.

Candle burns without waver

Save my will.

Lulav and Etrog

Him and Her I wave.

Arching palm, fragrant fruit,

Sparks pulsing through air.

Blue Jays throb through,

Harsh cries daring-do.

Woolly alder aphids,

Thousands within eyesight,

Waft through the air

With their waxy white.

I sip my wine, eat my bread.

A jet passes overhead.

I am startled by

Neighbor’s rifle report.

His mouth’s ear - tasting deer-

Is deaf to any tort.

An early evening owl calls

"Who looks for You-all".

The entire universe

Billions of years hence

A dense black dot

Or, an empty lot

Meanwhile the wise one said:

"Praise God,

Obey the commandments",

Swat the late season mosquitoes

- Dead!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Visiting Maria in Chicago!

Today we visited the Farmer's Market in Oak Park. Berries galore and tomatoes were enjoyed by all - along with some coffee and homemade donuts. It was a beautiful fall day!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Aldo Leopold's Shack

So, on Thursday, I flew to Chicago to visit My daughter, Jenna and her husband, Mark, and my Granddaugher, Maria. On the first full day there Mark and I took a trip to Baraboo, WI to see Aldo Leopold's 'shack'. It was a pilgrimage of sorts. Well, maybe not 'of sorts', but probably an actual pilgrimage. It was a three hour drive from Oak Park to Baraboo, WI. On the ride Mark and I had a long discussion about community connections, fragmentation of society and whether that fragmentation exists now any more than in the past. Discussion involved what makes a community and how we can recognize one. I presented the idea that the romanticized traditional geographically bound communities based on neighborliness and kinship can be basically destructive of humanity - promoting provincialism and prejudice, limiting educational opportunity, intellectual curiosity, and generally generating constraints on human potential and sometimes resulting in destruction of the environment. I argued that a more cosmopolitan mode of living can promote intellectual and creative growth, emotionally healthy individuals, less prejudice, and more compassion for fellow human beings. I pointed out the contrast between Sarah Palin, living all her life in Wasilla with few outside experiences and closely bound with her kin and neighbors, compared to Barack Obama, raised in Kansas, Hawaii, Indonesia, and living in Boston, LA, and Chicago. Sarah of 'Drill, Baby, Drill', pipelines, anti science, familial retribution, cronyism, etc. Barack of environmental awareness and concerns, universal health care, science and reason, interest in and concern for the rest of the world. This turned out to be an interesting discussion to have before going to Leopold's 'Shack'. This was the place of inspiration for Leopold, who grew up in Iowa, went to High School in New Jersey, College in Connecticut, worked and lived in New Mexico, married a Spanish American woman and wound up spending much of his adult life in Wisconsin (living and working in a community of scholars - students and colleagues who came and went), where he wrote one of the seminal books on expanding the notion of community to include the environment in which we live.
Maybe the idea of community needs to include the notion of a community that we make, each of us, of our friends and relatives, as we choose. This community can sometimes be partly or even mostly located in a particular geographic area, but almost everyone needs to step out of that area for a significant time for meaningful integrating activity in order to broaden their perspective of humanity and their knowledge of their self. Modern communications and travel make this easier than at any time in our history.
My own community includes, with a few very significant exceptions, hardly any of my neighbors. It is mostly my family scattered in Massachusetts, Saratoga, Chicago, California, Alaska and close friends flung far into places that their interests and opportunities have taken them. This community is close knit and responsive and nurtures me and I don't think my sense of committment to humanity and the world has suffered because it is far flung.
I thank Mark and my blog-journal for the opportunity to sort some of this out in my own mind.

Check out the link below.

Bracha visits from Israel

This past Monday, on the way back from the Garlic Festival, we picked up our cousin Bracha who is visiting from Israel.  We are having a wonderful time showing her our place and visiting around the area and putting her to work in the Garden.  This is her first visit to North America.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


So, yesterday I turned my compost. I'm not a very careful composter, but, if one is not in a hurry, composting tolerates most anything. I like to think of these piles of organic materials as my next year's tomatoes. You can see that the fall colors are coming on. The compost consists mostly of hay that I gather from bush hogging the fields and from sundry garden debris. This compost combined with ample manure, which I either buy or gather from neighbors who keep animals, is basically what keeps the garden going.

Hudson Valley Garlic Festival

Garlic Ice Cream is surprisingly good! Although I don't think I'll make a regular habit of it. This Hudson Valley Garlic Festival is quite an event. Good music, great food, if you like garlic. And, above all, a great selection of garlic for sale - many varieties of good healthy stock at very reasonable prices. There are also many tables of information staffed by knowledgeable people with information for those who want to grow their own. There was quite a crowd. They expected 40 to 50 thousand, but the weather was not the greatest which probably kept it down some. Still, the traffic flow was well maintained with lots of competent professional guidance and support. Things flowed smoothly and there was no alcohol, so it was definitely a family oriented affair.
We went with Naomi's sister and brother-in-law. There was a variety of food and music and crafts to keep us all interested and satisfied.