At the beginning of June this year I decided it was time to take a walk in my woods.
June is a wonderful time to savor the renewed growth and rebirth of our little world and to remember the cyclic and chillingly brief nature of our lives.
It’s times like these that gets me thinking back and remembering times past, and the changes I have seen in this area. There are things that I could write and tell you about but, unless you have experienced it yourself I don’t think you can truly appreciate the memories. Making your own flour for fresh baked morning bread, feeding your animals to ensure meat and some ready cash for the winter. Religiously following the Farmers Almanac for plowing and digging up the good earth for the crops that will see our animals and ourselves through till spring. The smell, the smell itself of the earth feels like memories of youth, memories of health before my old bones got rusty; smells of loves lost and friends who are sorely missed, smells that make me remember why I love to be alive. There just is no way to explain it in words. The smell of the turned soil sings a song that I always remember but is different every time I lift it to my face. This was a time when if you didn’t own an International, Deer or Massey-Ferguson you were just a city boy.
When you travel this county the farms are all gone, the corn, the apples, the peaches, cattle and even the trees…nothing remains but the memories. Now instead of rows of beautiful apple trees or corn there are row house style communities crammed with people that care nothing of the history of this county nor of their adopted community. I worry and fear there was little planning or consideration involved in the changes that have taken place and wonder if anyone has considered the impact on the land and the rapid urban sprawl taking place. Does anyone care that our property taxes have tripled in the last eight years and people that have lived and owned the land for 100+ years are now forced to divvy it up for taxes or are seduced to forsake their heritage, sell to the greedy developer and move further back away from their homes? Ah, no matter what can an old country boy do?
When money talks and everybody seems to have their hand out but not to shake and be welcomed but, to take and develop; I know I am now far from home. I wonder did anybody even think about the watershed or the sewage issues how about traffic or the local well depletion due to this urban sprawl?
Perhaps those are only issues for the “new locals” and us old boys need to get out of the way of progress.
But me? Well me and the Farmers Almanac remain.
What got me thinking all these deep thoughts were my friends the black woolly caterpillars. My father who was much smarter than I, knew all kinds of things, geology, chemistry, physics, and farming but, most of all he knew and taught me the lessons of listening to nature above the static that is Man. You see I am a devout follower of the Almanac but he always told me "forget what others tell you, look at what nature is saying, forget what is written but listen to natures rhythms, ignore the prognosticators and ask the trees." God, I miss him.
The 2011 Farmers Almanac claims we will have a bitter cold but little to average snow accumulation this winter. Now normally I would agree and plan my winter and spring accordingly. But, you see, the Almanac uses charts and tracks and the stars for its prognostications and can't take into account what the Earth itself is telling us today. Now from what my friends the Black woolly caterpillars are saying by wearing their extremely heavy coat of fur is that yes, it will be bitter cold but expect a double whammy of very heavy snows around the beginning of January. Now I don't claim to be right, i'm just going by what my friends are saying...The trees this year have dug deep, not near as many saplings shoots from their branches or trunks, the animals have begun their migrations in June rather than waiting till September, the jet stream is dipping into the Great Lakes and instead of our regular weather coming from the Atlantic and the Gulf we are seeing patterns from all directions.
Yes, I believe, I believe the land itself is telling us, bundle up, stock up and keep your animals safe. because the winter storm that hits us in the East this year of 2011 will remind us of the storm of 1968 where we got snow upon snow...upon snow.
Well, that's just what I believe... because... the caterpillar says so...