Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Snow In The Early Morning

We had snow yesterday at daybreak. The light was so faint, and tinged with blue, that the whole scene outside the door seems under water. I took a picture to try to catch the light:

Pine, Oak, Maple, Holly, and a few others mixed in. There are geese and ducks in the water just past the first row of trees. This is the kind of snow we get here in the southcoast; not enough to plow, generally, but enough to soften the barren look of winter a bit.

It's funny to consider that, according to statistics, what you're looking at is farmland "lost" to development. This was all a pasture meadow, for ruminant animals 75 years ago, when sturdier folks still tried to cadge a living farming in New England. The old surveying documents use what few trees were here previously as markers, and they were chosen because they were conspicuous for their lonesomeness. The soil is acid and there isn't much topsoil over the sandy subsoil. You could mow it flat and plant cranberries, but there's such a glut of cranberries that the government pays farmers not to grow them now, after attracting them to the industry by guaranteeing their prices previously.

My deed actually still allows me to drive my livestock across the road onto my neighbor's property to water my herds if I need to; but the cats just drink out of the little dishes under the potted plants, so there is no need to take them up on it.

The land we own covers five acres. About three quarters of one acre is lawn, house, driveway, and plantings. The rest is wild, and will remain so. It's surrounded by thousands of acres of river, fen, swamp, bog, forest, more swamp, brambles, poison ivy, nettles, ticks, and mosquitoes big enough to make you put lead diving shoes on your toddlers outside, lest they be carried off.

Farmland "lost" to development; I think not. Looks like "reforestation" to me. And last time I checked at the supermarket also built on "farmland lost to development," the shelves are filled with the flesh of the creatures that formerly grazed in what rapidly turned into our little pine jungle. They must have found some of that lost land somewhere else, I expect. Or used less land to generate more food is more likely.

Are the cows any sadder, unable to drink my swampwater? I don't know. But the ospreys like it here now. So do we.


Pastor_Jeff said...


I don't know why I've never stopped by your blog before - I've enjoyed your writing and your thought on Ann Althouse's blog. Now I see I've missed the work of a man gifted in more than one craft.

Thank you for sharing.

P.S. I'm living in a house improperly situated sun-wise. If only I'd known. I want to live in the kitchen pictured in your first "comfort" post. Sunlight, wood, flowers - beautiful harmony. I imagine a just God has a Le Corbusier-designed room set aside for Le Corbusier.

SippicanCottage said...

Hello my good friend, though I do not know ye-

Nice of you to drop by, and thanks for the kind words.

I enjoy your humane vision of the world, and your good humor. It's quite common to find those two things linked together, but it's not common to find those two things.

Architects have long considered themselves the most important artists politically. If that's true, then Corbusier is the most evil man who ever lived.

reader_iam said...

Sounds beautiful up there (and the photo bears that out).

Thanks goodness your felines are happy as they are: as we all know, it's no fun "herding cats."

SippicanCottage said...

Hi reader iam-

If you want to know about our cat herding techniques, you must got to the archives, August 1st, and read about Momo.

And tell your husband to get rid of that Fischer Price plastic guitar and get a proper wooden one.

Pastor_Jeff said...


Thank you for your gracious words.

I imagine this is old news to you, but if you really want a human vision of the world and brilliant humor, one can do no better than G. K. Chesterton.

Architects have long considered themselves the most important artists politically. If that's true, then Corbusier is the most evil man who ever lived.

I wonder what God's "misery-ometer" really measures which we overlook - pride, self-pity, and cold, inhuman dwellings must be higher on the list than we think.

SippicanCottage said...

Who's this Chesterton? His blog that you linked to hasn't had a post in a good long time... what's that? He's dead? Oh, never mind.

All kidding aside, Ol' G K is swell, and I can see why a person of your style and substance would like him.

Me, I'm an ignorant polecat, and I read Bierce.

"The act of defending any of the cardinal virtues has today all the exhilaration of a vice."

Malefactor: n. The chief factor in the progress of the human race.

Derve said...

Actually you are wrong about lost farmland.

Take a dollar bill or 5 or ten out of your wallet.

Now put it on a plate and eat it. Taste as good as something lovingly plucked from the earth, something you or your forbears loving planted there?

Nope, I didn't think so. Enjoy your boxed food, and store bought vittles. I'm sure the toddler boy and 10 year old will need to grow up big and strong to keep eating though that wallet... cheers!