A Quiet Before a Storm

 

Despite the overcast skies I decided to hike my old logging roads.  I needed to walk them, I haven’t since the snow apocalypse and the following high winds from before Christmas.  I wasn’t surprised or disappointed.  I have downed pine trees everywhere.  With a tractor and chainsaw, I will prevail…if the tractor runs. When I bought it back in the day, I was told: “nothing runs like a Deere.”  They lied…I guess John Deere even produces lemons on occasion.

I walked slowly up the incline, climbing over and ducking under downed trees along my route.  The three-hundred-foot elevation gain over about a third of a mile caused me to huff and puff a bit.  The temperature was noticeably cooler, the clouds seemed closer and denser.  The weather folk says it is going to be a minor winter event…my knee says maybe not.  Is there a difference between a single throbbing knee weather event and a double?

Stopping along the crest of a ridge to catch my breath, I was surprised at the quiet.  Just my inhalations were heard.  I fought to bring them under control…it seemed important.  Silent and still, not a hint of a breeze.  Even the hum from the distant four-lane seemed muted.  A quiet before a storm?  The birds seem to be hiding, as are the squirrels.  Not a chirp, not even the caw of a crow or a squirrel rustling the leaves disturbed the silence.

I continued to listen as I walked and searched the trees for movement.  There were signs.  Disturbed leaves from turkeys looking for seed or a grub.  The silent deer stands on the portion of my logging road that is not really mine.  They stood quietly, like empty watch towers…no game in sight.

Up to Chinquapin and then down to a second ridge crest.  I lost the old road for a moment and wondered what footprints my own feet might be following.  Five hundred years ago this was a Native American trading route.  It was still the land of the Cherokee, black bears, and the Carolina panther…today they have all had to make room for golfers and cyclist…and a moonshiner or two.

It is so quiet.  It is easy to walk and reflect on the thirty years I have resided here.  Reflections that make me smile…little that makes me frown.  While the Cherokee have moved north, the wildlife is still here…maybe they are reflecting too.  Reflecting on a quiet before a storm and the wonderful place they live.

For more reflections, rants or musings, https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM

A Hope of Spring

It is a lovely spring day…in the early winter.  We are only seventeen days past the Winter Solstice.  There will be many cold and gray days ahead before spring truly arrives.  Days like today give me a reason to hope.

The days have lengthened five whole minutes since the solstice.  Five more minutes of beautiful, bright sunlight.  I am still waiting for the sun to appear above the hill that shields my view.  The sun’s ascent shows pink above the pines.  It is a hint of the spring that will not truly come until late March…or early April.  Spring’s arrival will not come soon enough but there is nothing I can do about the calendar except hope.

As I walk, the morning is cool but not cold.  Bracing?  The lake I walk around seems welcoming as the sunlight finally touches it.  Flashing light shows in the ripples caused by a gentle breeze.  The sunlight is not warming yet, but there is hope for later.

Yesterday and today are those wonderful days, days that a person hopes for during winter.  Blue, cloudless skies following a wet week in a wet month in a wet year.  Temperatures will climb above sixty under bright, clean, blue skies.

Birds flitting and playing around their feeders.  Cardinals, titmice, chickadees, a couple of woodpeckers.  They seem hopeful too.  Squirrels chase each other around the base of a hemlock tree.  A truly glorious morning in what is going to be a glorious day.

A ride in the mountains and a stop at a nearby BBQ joint after church seemed in order.  My bride agrees.  The people on the streets of the small town seem happier than usual…maybe it is because I’m happier than the usual on this unusual January day.  They too bask in the sunlight.

There will be other hopeful days during this unhopeful season until warm and humid breezes find their way here to chase my blues away.  What a lovely spring day in the early winter.

Image of the winter sun is from https://www.thelocal.de/20180301/report-berlin-and-brandenburg-sunniest-german-states-this-winter

For more of Don Miller’s musings https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM

Winter…Sucks

 

It is still over a month away from the winter solstice… the darkness is oppressive.  Last night was thirteen hours, thirty-nine minutes and thirty seconds of rainy, cold darkness.  It seemed longer… I was awake for much of it.  I feel the darkness in my bones…in my soul.  Tonight, darkness will be a minute and a half longer than last.  I am already dreading it.

It’s not just the darkness, it is the angle of the sun, rising low in the southeastern sky and staying low, lower, lowest for the next…forever.  I never saw the sun yesterday and won’t see it today.  Wet, winter doldrums and it’s only the mid-way point in November.

The acronym SAD just doesn’t seem strong enough.  Seasonal Affective Disorder.  I don’t guess miserable fits…as an acronym.  “I have MISERABLE!”  Or WRETCHED…or DISMAL.  On top of my spurts of just plain depression.

I have inherited much from my Grandmother.  Love for growing tomatoes, reading, bird watching, and wildlife in general.  I also inherited her depression.  Gray days sitting, wishing, gazing out at the winter contemplating when the sun will return.  I remember her “blue.”  Wilting and turning brown like plants touched with a frost.  I also remember her blooming in the Spring.  Hope “springs” eternal.

I see people gaily dressed in ugly sweaters and hoodies.  Embracing pumpkin spice and reveling in falling leaves and bonfires.  Elves in red who can’t wait to get through Thanksgiving.

Give me the sun.  Give me the hot and humid weather with mosquitoes and thunderstorms, lightning bugs and hoot owls to chase the darkness away.  Give me the sun, long and high in the sky.

Daylight is finally upon me…its still raining so I can’t see the sun.  A gloomy day that I feel cutting deep.  I can’t seem to concentrate or sleep.  My wife may be in for a rough day.  I write, check social media, pick up a book and stare at pages without reading, walk around the fireplace and then do it all over again.  I have a book ending to complete…maybe in the spring…or the summer, when my mind is not so fragmented by the dark.

Don Miller’s author’s page can be accessed at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM

Don Miller writing as Lena Christenson can be found at https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B07B6BDD1

The image is from https://harrisrichard.com/tag/winter-sucks/

Waiting for the Sun

I feel the cold seeping into my bones. The cold and the darkness. The same ambiance that makes our home such a wonderful conversation piece is freezing me to death. Behind those beautiful beadboard walls is…nothing…but the cold.

I wonder…how much my shivering is the old farmhouse’s lack of insulation and how much is just me. There was a time when all it took was a minimal movement to create heat and perspiration. A byproduct of my weight loss or my age?

I am depressed…it makes the cold worse. I shouldn’t sit in the dark, but I am desperately searching for a hint of light on the southeastern horizon but it is not yet visible through my French doors. Maybe when I see it I’ll turn on the overhead light. I despise the winter, I hate the cold.

I often wonder about the people who lived here before me and how they survived the cold. There are five fireplaces in my old home. I doubt the former tenants could have kept them all fed because the one I still use, the one I sit close to warming my feet, has a voracious appetite. I have a chainsaw…they had crosscut saws and axes. My chainsaw wears me out…quickly…but it does cause me to sweat. Splitting the wood makes me sweat. Firewood heats you several times I guess.

I think I know where the people before me congregated, trying to stay warm, trying to sit out the winter…although I doubt there was much sitting as they cut the wood to feed the fireplaces. The beadboard in the old dining room is darkened from what I suspect is the many wood fires lit in its double fireplace. There or in front of the old wood burning stove I found in rusted pieces in a ravine behind my house. I can visualize the former tenants wrapped in handmade, patchwork quilts sitting close to the fireplace attempting to warm themselves. Shivering as the north wind made its presence known…basking in the feeble light. With it dipping into teens in the South Carolina mountains, I think you can keep your good old days.

I need to go walk. My armor against depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder. The southeastern horizon has lightened but I wait for the sun to peak above the tall trees on the hillside’s crest. We are still eight days from the winter solstice and the shortest daylight of the year. Seven hours, forty-five minutes and a few seconds before the days begin to lengthen again. With the mountains in the west, less sun for me I think. It seems a lifetime until the summer solstice.

I’m reminded of an old Sunray’s song,

“I live for the sun (sun sun sun sun)
Because it makes fun (fun)
Pretty girls with their guys
Such a love you can’t buy
Baby, we all live for the sun.”

A cheesy, wannabe Beach Boys kind of song. I don’t know about the fun but the sun gives me hope and the illusion of warmth. “(I) live for the sun.”

Don Miller is a multi-genre, Indie writer. Please drop by his author’s page on Amazon at http://amazon.com/author/cigarman501.