29 February 2012

Winter Pasture, My Storm Center. Beauty and Memories

Greenwich Junction


The Greenwich Junction depot sits forgotten and disintegrating by a rail crossing in Salem, N.Y, off Route 22. You can see it is a beautiful building and I've had my eye on it for some time.

Today we are getting the first real storm of this winter, and storms are emotional for me. I spent a lot of time on Bedlam Farm alone after I moved here, and I can say with certainty that I would not have made it through without Rose, and then Lenore.  Rose gave me the courage to deal with it, Lenore, a thread of love to hang onto. I see now that the storms were frightening to me, a long-time city boy and suburbanite and some of those blizzards – those long, rough, bitterly cold Canadian howlers, leaving tons of snow and ice everywhere. Storms were difficult, very lonely experiences for me. When I see a storm coming, I sometimes start to drift back to that frightening and unspeakably lonely place, painful and beautiful memories,  Rose and I setting out into the barn night after night bringing food, water and order to chaos. I never imagined loneliness as it appeared on this farm in the winter sometimes.

I am not alone anymore, and storms are different. Around me, Storm Center transforms the very idea of nature into just another warning. Storm Center loves Climate Change, and is making a lot of money off of it. But I am far from that.  I remember just before Maria came that I decided I would not succumb to the idea of my storms as lonely and frightening experiences. I would see them as beautiful and natural, and I would go out – almost always with a dog in tow – and seek out the beauty of the winter pasture, on the farm and off.  Because there was more beauty than there was sadness and loneliness, and I saw that through the viewfinder, driving one road after another. My camera has changed my idea of winter (my wife, also). Now a storm is a chance for me to dig deep into my heart and capture the particular beauty of winter, and never see storms in that dark way again.

Posted in Farm Journal, General

Winter Pasture: Rocky

Winter Pasture


Went to see Rocky. He can't see. He turns when he hears the door slam, and I think he knows my car. I stand about 50 feet away, and I call out his name, "Hey, Rocky, Hey Rocky, it's me, It's Jon." Then I walk slowly and I watch his head and eyes as he turns towards me. He does not know exactly where I am, he comes to the same place in the fence and steps back and waits, his head scanning. I hop the fence, and hold out an apple. "Hey, Rocky," I say, over and over again. He approaches slowly and then takes a bite of the apple, and then I drop the other half on the ground in front of him. He chews half, then puts his nose to the ground and swings his head until he finds it.

I hold my hand out, to scratch his mane, and he starts at first, not seeing where I am. Then he settles. We stand together for a few minutes, and he comes up to me, noses me, sniffs. Then I leave, say goodbye. There's a storm coming Rocky, and he will get to the shelter of his barn. See you tomorrow, maybe.

Posted in Farm Journal, General

Winter Pasture: Bedlam Farm

Winter Pasture: Bedlam Farm


Looks like a two-day storm but we'll surely get out on Friday and make it to Madison, where I will gratefully accept the Charlotte Socolow Award for good writing for "Meet The Dogs Of Bedlam Farm," my first children's book. The second, "Lenore Finds A Friend," is out this September. The award ceremony – 3 p.m. Saturday – is open to the public. Details here.

I took the redoubtable Lenore out for a good walk in the snow, and then a drive around before it got too heavy. I'll put these winter pasture shots – we stopped and saw Rocky – up this evening. The first shot was of Bedlam Farm, and it looks especially sweet in the snow. The farm is up for sale, and I have a feeling this may be our last snowstorm here. Feels like it.

A very thoughtful reader just sent me some photos of Cartagena, Columbia, setting for "Love In The Time Of Cholera," as she knew it is one of my favorite books. I appreciate it. She is there, and nice how technology can connect people like that. I love her photos. I think I need to go there.

Posted in General

Storm! The Winter Pasture

Winter Pasture. Storm, photos


Big storm hitting tonight and tomorrow, 6 to 12 inches. Lenore was attentive as we set out on a two-hour trek with camera, into the woods, down to see Rocky, out on the road to catch a snowscape or two. Snow and photos to come.

Posted in Farm Journal, General

Transitions. Sunset



Sometimes I get lucky. Driving home yesterday from Vermont, I came across a country rode at the precise moment the sun was setting in front of me. Is this a picture, I wondered? I stopped and got out and I think it was a photo, capturing one of the small transitions that are the thread of life. This was not news last night, at least not on the corporate newscasts that see our world as one continuing conflict so that we can become fear and misery addicts. It was a big story on that road though, life itself.

Posted in Farm Journal, General