Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy New Year!

We traveled during (academic year) winter break for decades, so have often been far from home on New Year's Eve.

It's nice to be in the mountains of NC again this year, where walks along the French Broad River bring wonderful views.  We'll be traveling this year in mid-winter, which brings a different rhythm to our year.  When we get back, there may be early signs of spring...


Happy New Year!  Wishing for peace and good energy for all in the coming year, with much time outside in the natural world as well as embracing the company of friends and family.

I've written many posts over the years about holidays, most about Christmas and New Year's, but a sprinkling of others.  Facebook reminded me today of our trip to Argentina two years ago, with a wonderful photo (of me) in front of a Patagonia lake on the Ruta de Sieta Lagos, so maybe that's why I'm thinking a bit more about this.

A search for "holidays" on my blog brought up this collection of reflections.  It was interesting to read thoughts and remembrances from those previous times, all heart-felt, I realize.  A good way to begin a new year.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

A dandelion flower

Amazingly, outside on the deck at lunch, on a very warm late-December day, I looked down, and saw a dandelion in flower.

It had become established in the mulch below the lower raised bed (and I hadn't rooted it out yet).

We were close to a record high on Christmas this year in Asheville, and the warmth has continued.

Cooler temperatures are ahead for the next couple of days, but 2016 is definitely on track for a warmest year record here, too.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Winter

I marked Christmas via a direct Facebook post, remembering visiting Rothenburg ob der Tauber, a couple of years ago.  It was a wonderful place, and I was fortunate to spend several days there, staying in the interior of the old city.  It was a magical place.

I didn't have many blog posts (traveling at the time with a old iPad and equally elderly digital camera), but here are few of them.

I was particularly struck by the pilgrimage way that went through Rothenburg, and all the way to Santiago de Compostela.  I was on a bit of a pilgrimage, I thought, at the time, moving towards something past my paid work life, rather unknown, it seemed to me at the time.

Eddying along, I'm continuing to teach about gardening (all sorts of topics) as a volunteer and volunteering in a community garden, and being engaged even more around food and social justice issues.

I'm privileged to live in a special place, with preserved places (although sometimes for a price).

As passholders, we're able to see these beautiful views.

Biltmore Estate, December, 2016


We'd gone through the house during the day.  Quite nice.  But it's the preserved views and wonderful landscapes that make Biltmore special, in my opinion.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Winter Solstice

So glad to welcome the Solstice and longer days ahead.

I'm not one that celebrates the darkness, cocooning, or the quiet times in the garden. Nor do I love hot summer days.

But light is always welcome, and I'm grateful to live in a part of the world that experiences only a bit less than 10 hours of daylight in our shortest days --from mid-December to mid-January.

Hooray for longer days to come.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Moon rising

The moon was above the horizon this evening at dusk, rising above the ravine forest behind the house.  It won't be full for a couple of days, but it was luminous tonight.

A couple of photos, one from my venerable Nikon D100, which does a better job focusing on the moon (because of the excellent lens).


And one from my iPhone, which captures the scene better, but doesn't capture the moon quite as well!


Both have been digitally processed, of course....via Lightroom and Photoshop.

I hope it will be clear on Tuesday -- it should be a beautiful December moon.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Growing food

I was at an annual potluck this evening for the Asheville Buncombe Food Policy Council.  It's a new group for me, although I've tried to learn more about food systems, food security initiatives, etc. in my town of Asheville and county of Buncombe, as well as the Southeast, over the last couple of decades.

I've come home thinking a bit more about what it actually takes to grow food, something I think quite a bit about, actually. (Many of the folks brought commercially grown food for the potluck, not home-grown, as it turned out), although much of it was home-prepared.

It's fun to grow your own veggies (and fruit, too), but it can be really hard work on a community or market gardening scale.  And it's not without effort in my small-scale raised beds, either.

I covered my beets, chard, and spinach this afternoon, with perforated plastic and agrofabric.


Hard to know what the experiment of covering chard, spinach, and beets with floating covers might be!  It's going to be about 18°F overnight.

I'm hoping they'll pull through, but also would really enjoy eating some broccoli or Brussels sprouts from the market, truth be told.

I have a wonderful large bag of spinach, though, harvested from the lower beds.  It's the nicest looking spinach I've grown.  We'll enjoy the spinach over the next day or two!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Broomsedge field

Outside the kitchen windows, we can see beyond the ravine forest, to a field filled with broomsedge. Part of a foreclosed property scooped up by an investment company, now owned by Duke Energy (they were hoping to put a sub-station there), it's now simply a spot recovering from clearing (again).

This was part of an urban renewal site, cleared of houses in the mid-60's, I guess; it was still "empty" space when we bought our house here in 2008.  Then, there was talk of mixed-development housing from a company that had quietly bought up most of the small and large plots that had been cleared, and had big dreams, but wasn't able to come up with the federal matching grants and bank funding needed (that was in times of economic downturn), and finally the property was sold at auction for just over $1 million to the investment company.  Duke bought the entire 17 acre plus conglomeration for ~$5.5 million during late recession recovery.  This sounds like an extreme bargain in booming Asheville today.

We benefit from a lovely ravine forest close to downtown, at least for now, buffered by our property and slope requirements, but we keep a wary eye on the future.  What will happen to this space that's remained vacant for so long?  It's smack up to Highway 240, and future changes to I-26 and bridge, so not as desirable as it otherwise would be, close to downtown.

This morning, though, I enjoyed the view of the lovely field in the distance.

view from the far edge of the kitchen

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