a night without Perseus


i went the other way this time. a longer but scenic route; a two lane where passing is dangerous and oncoming cars frequently leave their lanes. the curves too hard to hold. the sun was low in the south barely cresting the tree line making long shadows across the road. the flickering light put me into an altered state as i travelled through what was to be the last of blue sky.

i passed a country house which featured a strange fruit of corvidae hanging from the branches by their frozen feet. feathered black drooping as only death does. perhaps the spirit crows shape-shifted into other forms.

hopefully to revisit these woefully ignorant lynchers with their supernatural medicine. the eyes that function as doorways to unknowable mysteries might draw from their trickster's tool bag to play havoc on that house this spring ; or so it goes in my karmic fantasy.

the black vultures roosting in the fire tower on 129 had no adversaries and their numbers impressed. i would never have noticed them in the green season but now that the world is spare they were startling silhouettes.
next came the apple house with the petting zoo that now contained concrete goats,sheep and pigs. the apple house was closed as well -odd for a friday in barely post-apple season. it should have been filled with tourists buying butters and cider, old timey hard candies and country trinkets.

on the final eleven miles to the west, the cohuttas appeared ultramarine like a blue whale had laid down on the horizon. the blue skies were behind me and ahead a heavy blanket of dull white with no hope of snow. my driveway appeared barren now that the trees had shed all their fall glory. the american flag cattle gate had rusted like a fall leaf and seemed a fitting metaphor for the nation in this moment and it let out a mournful song as it swung open. dropping below the road i rolled in slowly in case any animals were at the feeder. that would be the last chance i would have to see them because the hound, Trout, will have it creature free within 15 minutes after arrival.

tapping my loblolly of survival resources i made a meal of black beans and yellow rice and pistachio almond ice cream. i had one black tea bag left and 2 hot chocolates. the game is to stay the weekend without going out for groceries. there were frozen lima beans, eggo waffles, apple sauce, expired apple juice, a packet of tuna, and some frozen spaghetti sauce. in the cabinets was a mish mash of soups and canned vegetables, a box of mac and cheese and a box of vermicelli. all set then. looking for something to watch as i dined but avoiding all news, i happened upon the opening scenes of "the shining", quite possibly the most elegant horror film of all time. i marveled as i have many times at the lush cinematography the magic way movement is recorded and how tension is built through imagery.

we walked the perimeter and noted the limbs that had fallen, any changes along the creek side. the rhododendron was heavy from cold with only the tight buds for next summers blooms standing upright. a chickadee stood on a little mud-flat to drink and flew away as we approached. there weren't as many birds as usual - the feeder was empty though i filled it when i was last here. but its been almost a month. too long.

it was freezing cold. less than 30 and dropping in the twighlight. if it the sky was clear i would wait for the first star - most likely not a star at all, but venus and then jupiter. my planet. and my sky of sagittarius. it has been shining so brightly this winter.

if it was a clear night i would build a fire and stay out with perseus; i would be safe in his company as he holds the head of medusa in his hands. i remember this very scene on the side of a greek vase having shown it to my art students last summer. when i have guests to chickory i love to show them the double cluster, a mini milky way found near perseus. when the cabin was burglarized the telescope was taken - probably rolled up the the fabulously warm pine green cashmere blanket my mother had given me for a gift years ago. nights at the cabin have been much colder without it.

Trout's nose twitches and she is off on a hunt across the creek. i watch her climb the hill on the other side until she disappears over the ridge. i wont call. she wont come. until she is ready. i found a few larger limbs that were great for a fire but too long. i fit them into the vise of a double trunked tree and pushed until i felt the satisfying snap - the bright white dry wood inside revealed in a jagged end. i spent the very last of the light taking the limbs to the fire pit.

the chicks were waiting for me at the door. i took them up into my arms and cradled them above the propane heater until the shivering stopped and put them in their kitchen basket. i offered them some yellow rice and smashed bean, corn and a piece of chocolate chip cookie. the cabin is warm in this room but in the bedrooms very cold. i prep my bed as Trout pushes the door open and barks for dinner. I watch a little telly and then fire up my laptop to find an archived podcast. this one is on the codex alimentium: the control of food. it should be good and spooky for this winters eve. under the covers but still dressed in shirt layers, flannel pants, and socks. any part of my body exposed is cold. I cant count on Trout for warmth, she likes the chair by the fire. when i wake up it is 12:30 and the podcast has ended. before i fall asleep again i hear a dog barking far away and take comfort that at least on this night, that dog isn't my own.


  1. I can smell the leaves and hear the chickadees twittering. Were your ears tingling from the cold?
    Walks in the woods are good for the soul. Human and dog.

  2. yah, it was white and overcast here too. we even had some snow flurries.
    stay warm .. enjoy the quiet ..

  3. big shamu: it is so cold! yes my ears were freezing even though i had a cap on. but it was crochet -too many holes to keep my head warm. its real function is to flatten hair and generate static electricity which i HATE. it makes me nervous about toughing metal.

    foamy: and when the sun stays so low and puts out zero warmth its the worst. looks like tomorrow might be better. i did not get snow flurries which makes freezing air fun. you too - stay warm!

  4. I love how you said you "prep your bed" and creating meals and food without going out is an art form.

    The Shining? One of my all time favorite books.

    Sleep tight up there under those stars.

  5. sometimes here esp. i like to scroll real fast catcha word here and there and see the photos it is like a moving poem that i can neither remember nor recreate.

    just to say hi for now

  6. It sounds like its very cold K9, but enjoy the solitude and walking in the woods with Trout, just taking in the tranquility of your winter landscape with the lovely cool scent of the air and pine needles. ♥

  7. there is a flying squirrel living in my barn! i am so happy and excited! i will do anything to make him happy. i left peanut butter for him. yay! yay!

  8. Hey Pup, how do you keep Trout away from the hens and flying squirrel?

  9. woot!!!! flying squirrel!!!! What else does he need to stay and make you happy? Nuts? A massage? Name it!

  10. fishy! welcome to chickory. you'll like it here. no cussing and fighting like at K9's yard. trout was taught to love the hens. and she accepts them. maybe not love....but then again, shes not all that lovey dovey. shes our "autistic: dog. the flying squirrel was smart enough to stay high in the rafters away from trout. but i told trout i liked the squirrel. i think she understood.

    boxer: isnt it exciting. he had big eyes and a flattish busy tail. he was as curious about me as i was him. i bet i could have caught him but i wanted him to stay so i didnt crowd him. i left a cache of mixed seeds for him and the butter. i hope he is there when i go back after christmas. yay yay yay!

  11. hi vanille! hi diane. xo chickory

  12. This is just so beautiful! Your writing, the images, the feel of the land and the air--wow. I need to visit here more often.

  13. OK, I find flying squirrels much more acceptable then those thieving nut rats. Does this make me some sort of squirrel racist?

  14. (1) One of my former professors was a guest in the house where Kubrick filmed The Shining. Her family portrait looks nothing like the one you included, though:-)

    (2) Seems like Trout's fairly independent. And if she has the good sense to come home, seems like she should be able to satisfy some of her wonderlust.

    (3) I've never heard of that particular bird-hanging custom. But the allusion to strange fruit made my skin crawl. (Makes mental note to investigate possible connection).

  15. You're welcome. Sorry I can't afford more right now. I spent all my disposable income on a scary bobblehead squirrel.

  16. Do flying squirrels bite? Just wondering.

    Bushy and I will like it there. I wish I could bring him some place where he could wander off and amuse himself.

    Last night we were in this - I'll just call it - a city park.

    There were so many fancy looking dogs of every breed wearing shoes ( yes, shoes) and clothes all walking hoity toity basking in the admiring looks of everyone.

    I thought of bringing Bushy along. But I know he isn't the type to go for silly doggie fashion shows. Doesn't want to be petted or fussed over by strangers either.

    He would love to do what Trout did. And it would be fun to go lie on one's back looking at the stars. Wish I could do that.

    I saw a Frida print yesterday and immediately thought of you.

  17. Walnuts. Store bought is OK (spensive, but, not as bad as the shelled ones)
    Walnuts WITH the shell on them.
    Buy a bag, toss about a quarter down in the area, get the dickens out'a there.
    Real fidgity, they are.
    They'll come to trust, but, they are a tasty treat to a whole lot of critters, and they know it.

    If they take to the walnuts where you put them, do it again as the nuts are taken. Don't swarm the area with walnuts. You'll gain way more'n the trust of Rocky...You'll gain the interest of briar bear.

    Let's not befriend the bear, just yet.
    If the first place don't work, pick another, but, clean up the ones that don't get taken off.

    Next week, we'll discuss how you can attract a moose.
    You know....
    for the squirrel.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.


© chickory All rights reserved . Design by Blog Milk Powered by Blogger