Archive for the ‘Lake Gaston Area’ Category

“And the Moon be Still as Bright”*.

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If I Just Listen.

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Ah, Fall

The past couple of weeks mark the first days of what I call the “Cool Season”. Nestling somewhere in-between SummerFall and Winter, the Cool Season is sleeping under a quilt with the windows open, and morning cups of coffee that warm the hands as well as the spirit. Soon, roadside views will thrill the full turning of leaves and rich color, churning intensely as long as Mother Nature lets it.

The Cool Season is restraint; first-launch leaves, unsure hatchlings whose feathers — not ripe for flight — leap from the nest any way, swooping like Fall, but not quite right. Yet.

In a few days, overnight perhaps, Fall might splash down like a brushstroke from an artist’s wild varnish wash, fixing all things for a little while so we can look at it. Not quite Fall, though. Yet.

It’s the Cool Season.

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I am simply amazed that my small patio-garden is still producing. About a month ago I walked up to the tomato plants with pruning shears in my hands and rapped on their 22-inch pots. “Okay, guys,” I said in a most apropos doctor-voice. “You are NOT going to like this!”

But one of the tomato plants managed to sneak in a profound, yet squeaky, “Hang on, Boss — I’m not through yet!” before I could position the snips at its root base. My sweet red pepper plant noticed the gleam of sunlight on blade and quickly chimed in, “Hey, take a look at this!” It raised a jumble of leaves suggestively in the chilly breeze and — by golly! — showed me a preponderance of new pepper blossoms and a host of dangling, 2-inch peppers.

I almost blushed.

All of which is to say, last night I sautéed some tasty fall tomatoes, a finely sliced red pepper, and a handful of sweet Vidalia onion chunks in some olive oil; tossed in some fresh patio rosemary and patio tarragon and a dash of crushed patio garlic, and — while piling all of it onto a mound of pasta and topping it off with some grated parmesan and Romano cheese — reflected that I’m sure glad I listened to those frantic pleas.

And just to make sure those plants remember their promise, I always carry the pruning shears in plain sight, tucked loosely in my shirt pocket.

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KILLER CORNS. The tiny ones are BAD.

It is a good year for acorns here in North Carolina. Acorns are everywhere. I step on them in the morning with my bare feet while sipping coffee on the deck, cursing. I hear them PLUNKING on the roof, from where they rattle down the shingles, PLUNK again (this time with the tinny resonance of aluminum) in the gutters. Late at night while reading Dean Koontz novels: PLUNK, PLUNK, rattle, rattle, TINK.

A nut from a pecan tree or, something — else?

(from search on FAT SQUIRREL)

Every day I sweep acorns off the deck. Used to be squirrels scampered away with them. Not any more. Squirrel holes and hiding places are already cram-packed with acorns. As are the squirrels themselves. Not one more acorn can be stuffed into any of them. Fat squirrels lounge about everywhere, kicking acorns out of their way. Sun tanning, waiting for the winter with an all-knowing glee. There are so many acorns plopping down that the next time it rains, acorns will EXPLODE from the downspouts like shotgun rounds, and wildlife will scatter in terror.

Except for the ticks and fleas.

Old timers suggest one year’s abundance of acorns assures the next year’s abundance of rodents, on which an OVERABUNDANCE of fleas and ticks will feed, which may cause additional problems. Nature is like that: I call it “the Acorn Cycle of Life”. Sweep one year and scratch the next. The ol’ Sweep & Scratch.

All of which makes me just a little bit nuts: PLUNK, PLUNK, rattle, rattle, CLANK.

That one sounded like a bowling ball.

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My buddy, Oscar the Heron ignoring me.

My father was an Oscar William Jr. I came very close to being named Oscar William III. Imagine that. Oscar William the Third has a regal ring to it, right? But the surname was never to be: Dad didn’t want his son to have a moniker whose name, ending in “Third” rhymed with … well — by golly, you get the idea.

My favorite place (complete with discarded slipper).

A while back I introduced you to Oscar the Blue Heron, a resident grouch with whom I share a mutual respect. Very skittish and prone to taking flight at the slightest provocation, Oscar and I have learned to tolerate each other’s presence over the years. When our schedules don’t overlap, Oscar sits on the end of my dock waiting for hapless bait fish to swim by. He was apparently sitting there for quite a while during my recent visit to see Mom!

The end of my dock is one of my most favorite places in the world. A place to watch the clouds. A place to unwind. A place to commune with nature and — like Oscar — fish for my dinner. A place to contemplate my infinitesimally unimportant place in the universe. A place to take off one’s slippers and sniff the roses. An unsullied place with a shared and implicit air of sacrosanctity surrounding it like a shroud.

Boy, was I wrong.

Gift from Oscar

I like to think Oscar was upset that I left him alone, that he missed my companionship and terse conversations, that he was anxious that my place to sit had remained empty for too long. That he was — worried. But when I returned home from my visit to see Mom, I was reminded that Oscar the Heron might have felt otherwise about his abandonment. Perhaps, Oscar the Heron was — just plain angry!

Perhaps … Dad was right after all.

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Finally. Power is back on after 7 days of no computer. Been feeling like a deep diver holding my breath in the largest sensory deprivation tank in the galaxy. What an insidious addiction technology is. A seven-day withdrawal worse than nicotine.

It should be illegal to need something so badly.

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Well, Hurricane Irene was not as bad as originally expected, but she was bad enough. Here in North Carolina, trees are down everywhere and power outages are rampant. This update is going to be rather hurried…

I am still without power. My generator crashed early on, but is okay now. Lesson I learned: never use old diesel fuel in a diesel generator. Not good. Ever. I have no phone and my DSL comes and goes.  Mostly goes. Just got my computer back up for the first time since Saturday morning. I do not have access to my email. My house is without AC and it is about 93 degrees inside as I write this. Not good for a computer, so I will limit using it to a minimum. A large tree fell across my driveway on Saturday morning, taking my power lines with it. It will probably be a week before the power folks get to me. So, my blogging will be questionable in the days to come.

All is well here for now, however. I think there are still some 300,000-500,000 folks without power, which means my driveway has been placed WAY DOWN the power company’s fix-it list.

Thank you everyone for your concern and support.

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The feeling is like a bad taste or an unpleasant odor in a confined space. A crowded elevator. A rancid memory, refusing to rise in order to purify itself, instead choosing to fester just below the blister of consciousness. Transparent, like a stealth weapon ninety-nine percent ghost. A vaporous déjà vu that will not leave me alone. This feeling I have is like all of that, this dread that will not go away. This thing called — Irene.

Hurricane Irene — whose name means “peaceful” (I bet some higher-up got a chuckle out of that) — plows a belligerent path northward toward a steamy rendezvous with inevitable landfall. A juggernaut on a mission: a collision with North Carolina and everywhere else.

No. Collision is not a good word to describe this terrible meeting of wind and land mass. The real word should be more subtle. Something akin to convergence or assimilation, or — confluence. Yes. A confluence with North Carolina. I like that. But I still have a very bad feeling about this Hurricane-Irene-whose-name-means-peaceful.

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“Hello, welcome to the Dominion Power Hotline. If you are calling about a power outage, please <PRESS ONE>.”

When power goes out at Lake Gaston, it is total and complete. Ceiling fans stop; well pumps cease (no toilets!), and cordless telephones are useless. “Thank you, for pressing one! If you are calling about a power outage from the area in which the power outage has occurred, please <PRESS ONE>.”

Modern marvels are simply amazing.

“A widespread power outage has already been reported in your area.” It is a sweet and comforting voice that emanates from the telephone. How do telephones work without power, anyhow? Never mind. I don’t want to know. “Dominion Power estimates your power will be restored by. . . TWO-FORTY-FIVE PM.”

How do they know that?

It is like a blizzard has struck, a sudden, unannounced SNOW DAY. The only thing that is functioning normally at my house is my home brew, which is still bubbling; and the minnow trap, which is still trapping. I sit at the end of my dock fishing for catfish, patiently waiting for 2:45 PM to arrive. No big deal. At 2:45 PM the house is still de-electrified and silent.

The day has been cast askew. Lopsided.

This is the way it must have been in the past, back when civilization and time coalesced into simpler lifestyles. Back when there was no need for television, the Internet, or the comforting hum of a dishwasher washing. Back when day and night were deliminators inviolate, separate and apart:  not just a simple light switch flick away.

The thought is — unsettling. So I call the Dominion Power Hotline one more time, just in case. “Dominion Power estimates your power will be restored by EIGHT-FORTY-FIVE PM.”

Sometimes SNOW DAYS aren’t what they’re cracked up to be.

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