Sunday, May 26, 2024


At this time last year, I hadn't yet purchased the house, so I'm now seeing other plants blooming in the yard. There were daffodils, tulips, pink and red azaleas, a forsythia and a purple lilac. Also, the fruit trees all bloomed. Currently, there are white and purple irises and a Syringa meyeri lilac – the same as the pink one in Middlebury, with the fantastic fragrance. Pink roses are currently emerging. Still to come are peonies and a white hydrangea. Although my tomato seeds weren't stored properly, I got them to germinate by putting them on top of a ladder that was placed in a south-facing skylight. The night temperatures here are still only 45º, and I'll plant them outside when it warms up a little more.

There wasn't much mouse activity in the house over the winter, and I recently found what may be their last entrances. There were two small holes at the edge of the roof at the front of the house that couldn't be seen from the ground. In order to find all of their entrances, I literally had to look at every square inch of the exterior of the house close-up. 

The other main house project was to improve the quality of the well water. When I moved in, the water left brown stains from iron and was acidic, eating up the pipes. It was also slightly hard. With a new filtration system, that has all been fixed. This house, apparently, is above igneous rocks that contain a lot of iron. The igneous rocks don't create hard water, but they can cause acidity. The Middlebury house, apparently, was above sedimentary rocks, such as limestone, which neutralize acids but produce harder water. There was also iron in the Middlebury water, but not as much. There must be lots of iron here, because they used to mine it locally. Other than this, I'm down to minor projects now. I just reinforced one of the handrails at the back of the house, because two of the three posts had completely rusted through at the bottom. I've set up an anchored telescope tripod in the yard. I had thought that the old mount was fixed, but it is still behaving erratically, so I decided to order a new one. When that arrives, I'll have an active observatory again.

Since I'm alone for so much of the time, I spend more time observing wildlife. The robin on the roof raised its chicks, keeping a watchful eye on me. They have all left the nest now, and I never even got a glimpse of the chicks. The Eastern phoebe currently seems to have chicks and goes to great trouble to conceal them. I'm also watching the hummingbirds. This morning one fed at the feeder on the front porch and then went to check out the red taillight on the car parked nearby. My hiking here is a little different, because I'm spending more time in wetlands. I recently saw a field full of bobolinks, which were distracting me from their nest locations. I also passed through a bog and checked out Emily Dickinson's frogs. I think that Dickinson must also have spent a lot of time outdoors alone.

I'm not sure what to read next and will try to figure out something soon. Most of my favorite authors are dead, and that now includes E.O. Wilson. Reading about Bread Loaf and Yaddo in the McCullers biography was sort of interesting to me. I recently drove over to see Robert Frost's old house. He probably would have been fun to know, but I don't think that his poems are that great. It sounds as if he and his family had major psychiatric issues, but I'm not interested in exploring them. It appears to me that he had a certain savvy and was able to develop a persona as a poet that would appeal to the American public. Here is a guy who grew up in San Francisco, studied poetry in England, and then suddenly became a New England farmer. I don't think that he knew anything about farming. He reminds me a bit of Bob Dylan, who sort of made up a Dust Bowl/antiwar/civil rights persona that didn't match his life experience at all but was, at the time, a great idea for self-promotion. In private, Dylan may have been laughing all the way to Malibu. Frost, I think, was probably less disingenuous, and wrote from the heart – which can actually be quite boring. But they both seem to have succeeded at branding.

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