Snow Falling from Trees Awakens

560 words, 18-sec. video, 2 photos

After half a foot of sticky, soggy snowfall overnight, today the temperature at Balsamea rose well above freezing.  Along our trails, rapidly thawing snow showered from the trees everywhere in these dense woods, especially from the pines and firs, those bearers of great snow-loads.

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It fell in droplets, spoonfuls, cupfuls, bucketfuls and barrowfuls. The still, windless air said nothing while each of these sizes played their particular sounds, all around me patting, drumming, shushing and thumping their way through tree limbs, branches, twigs and evergreen boughs, then concluding each phrase with a strike on the snow on the ground.  They formed an unusual percussive symphony unique to this particular circumstance, in a special variation playing upon atypical conditions in the fresh snow cover.

When or where can you hear nature using trees and snow as instruments to drench the still air in sound this way, with a variety of visual effects, too?  When do you get to sit in the middle of the orchestra as it plays?  It filled the air within a great dome surrounding me, simultaneously at every volume possible to my ears.  Some notes played a few feet from me, ranging out to ones played barely within hearing.  Some struck funny notes on my ball cap and shoulders.
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Oak Tree Trilogy Part 2 – Defiant Oak

Front Yard Oak 00 20131009

Defiant Oak’s happy autumn leaves, October 2013.

Oaks against the sky,
Ramparts of leaves high-hurled,
Staunch to stand and defy
All the winds of the world;
Stalwart and proud and free,
Firing the man in me
To try and again to try –
Oaks against the sky.

– Excerpt from Trees Against The Sky,
Poem by Robert William Service

It’s not a good idea to fall in love with a guy whose favorite book is the dictionary.  This thought occurred to me today when I perused my 1995 10th Edition of Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, which I would prefer over using the Internet to look up words, but my eyes can’t take it.

I felt something like comedic irony when I saw her inscription to me in this dictionary, my Good Book, a gift on the third anniversary of our first date.

That relationship brought me to the brink of swearing off women forever.  After dalliances since then, I’m now so selective, it’s as good as having sworn off them.  I won’t deny the possibility of someone coming along to inspire a romance that makes people dismissive of Tristan and Isolde, or that inspires me to write an eternally classic novel about civil war, bells tolling, and earth-moving sex.  (Hemingway, you delightful madman.)  Still, she won’t lure me away from Balsamea, or get me to abandon my little Defiant Oak tree.

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Winter Wonderland

I shot these pictures today, 12/25/2012.  I have better winter pictures from February 2012, coming soon to a blog scribblement near you, but today I wanted to share pictures taken today.

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This has nothing to do with Christmas, but boy-oh-boy if you are into Christmas, in my part of the world the sky and the snow are performing just as Bing Crosby dreamed for on Christmas.

"Yo!  Tannenbaum!" German Tanne (fir) + Baum (tree).

“Yo! Tannenbaum!” German Tanne (fir) + Baum (tree).

For our nightly walk this most celebrated day of the year, in a brisk thirteen degrees (no problem when walking briskly, unless into a stiff headwind, then you have nose issues, but we were in dense forest cover with NO wind tonight) we had the “perfect storm” of combined crystal-clear sky, moon nearing full, and Jupiter parked a finger’s width from the moon, yet blazing its strong light right through the moon’s white-out drowning of all other stars near it.  I wondered what could be so bright?  Is there a kid being born by autogenesis in a manger somewhere?  Should I pack up some balsam incense and head east?

Since Rudolph’s nose isn’t white, and the light was not moving, I decided to check with StarDate, who told me it was a special presentation of Jupiter.  Just the gods playing around in the sky, as ever.  Orion was swashing his buckle just below the moon, also standing out against that moon-washed sky of few visible stars.

The timing was great, too.  The moon was not far from apex just when we set out for the walk, around 8:10 PM.  That makes the light pierce down through the trees with less shadow and more light hitting the snow.

We have a complete snow cover that developed slowly over a period of three days, totaling about four inches accumulation.  With temperatures staying low, the snow is staying put, and still sticking in billows to not only the balsam fir boughs, but to the upper surfaces of many maple and beech tree branches that don’t get hit by a lot of wind and/or sun.  I love the way it puts a white lining on the branches that are otherwise just sticks all winter (unless glazed in ice).

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