It’s miserable outside, but the flock is tough and takes the weather with a much better attitude than I do. I’m calling Zach, Kool today because he thinks he’s the most important Goose in Columbia Country, maybe even all of New York State. He’s intruding on my nicely composed photograph and doesn’t care because the world revolves around him. This is Gander Narcissism in its full expression. Ruthie, his wife, is in the foreground blending into the land.
After a week of being tempted, Zachariah braves it and gets in the tub. It’s so much fun to watch these milestones by these beautiful Geese.
The flock is molting now so added protein is important. Yesterday it was warm scrambled eggs with herbs, salmon, and 8-grain wheat toast. They gathered together in the communal meal, making soft happy sounds.
Nicky, the feral cat I’m hoping to tame, got eggs too. They are so plentiful now and such a perfect protein that the hens actually give back more than they get consume.
I repeat myself, but the pleasure of being part of the land in the way living here has given me is so pleasurable. I am grateful.
It dawned on me last week that what makes The Homestead magical, or put another way, what my land elicits in me, is the sense of magic and wonder I felt when I was six or seven. It is the gift this place gives me. Everywhere I walk, explore, see, I make finds I hadn’t expected. It’s quite preposterous, I know, and I don’t expect anyone to believe me though anyone who has walked it when visiting feels it, too.
The beanstalk in this photo (actually a Wild Grape Vine) is an example. It is growing in the lush green of the ravine behind the dog pen. It is a steep drop down there where Deer, Fox, Raccoons and Nicky, the feral cat, run and travel. The Wild Turkeys, too. The pond is lower and to the right of this photo so this area teems all year ’round with comings and goings. There is a density here as well, so every day there is a new surprise, a new animal, a new sound, a new flower.
It isn’t a stretch to think that one dusky evening, I’ll be out there with the dogs and hear what I first think is thunder, the dogs will look up and stand perfectly still, my eyes will follow as the ground starts to shake and we’ll see those huge hairy legs start to descend from high above. I’ll open the gate and we’ll run like hell into the house.
The two photographs are part of my continued interest in images which merge drawing, photography and painting into one seamless medium which emphasizes the experience of seeing over the experience of naming.
Our first big snow and the roads were bedeviling last night. I left town on an earlier train trying to get home before the worst of it hit. But Amtrak is not reliable and we were stopped for forty minutes in the Bronx because of a stalled Metro North train ahead of us. This is customary now. Infrastructure deteriorates by the day and our politicians dawdle.
Once in Hudson and heading home, the white sheets of snow, the winds, and the lack of any guide other than the midline studded strip, made for impressive conditions. I missed the turn-off from 9H but was able to back up on the highway since no one was on the roads. Turning off onto my country road it was worse, but the sight of a huge plow blinking red and white like a happy Christmas tree up ahead was a beacon and it guided me safely home. After feeding everyone I fell into a deep and grateful sleep.
All worth it to be able to live in this paradise.
There is reassurance in the turning of the wheel and in spite of the things that seem disruptive, each settles in and is absorbed as life continues, the sun rises and travels through the sky and sets in the west only to rise again into our eternity. Maybe not all of eternity but certainly in ours, the life of a mite relative to all time.
My new boy TickTock escaped his crate when I brought him home from a Connecticut farm and is free-ranging in the plant shed. My confidence in being able to catch any living bird has been challenged by this fast and beautiful boy. I keep telling him about the six hens who await his morning song and beautiful feathers but TickTock wants none of it. He’d rather perch and poop on my washing machine.
Photography as a valid member of the Fine Arts has always been problematic. What is there is there which means that the nuance and encapsulated time compression of Painting doesn’t hold the energy of a masterpiece or if it does, not in the same way. Photography is nonetheless a thrilling medium capable of both the outlandish and the sublime. The recent visit to my yard by a Bear set off ideas and potential events. I was trying to get the feel of a Bruegel.
This huge fellow visited my front lawn on Tuesday morning around nine. He was only interested in bird seed and decimated the feeders. I was sitting on the back porch steps when he arrived in his black-hole black, a darkness I have never seen on an animal before and his huge brown snout. What good luck to see him so close! After thirty minutes of looking around he wandered away.
This has been a spectacular week in the Hudson Valley. The endless rains have stopped though it is still moist, the temperatures are comfortable and the foliage lush. Even the young Hawks are less noisy as they learn to hunt on their own. I put the first nest box in with the hens last night. It was immediately popular. They know what to do. I am learning a lot and these new experiences feed my imagination and sense of wonder at the bounty of the world. There’s always too much to do, too little time and without sounding sugary I feel as if I live in an unending transcendental experience. I do not understand how I got here but know it was destiny not mere chance.