Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Musings Upon The Winter Solstice

If our bird feeder activity is any indication, we may be in for a humdinger of a winter. We're about to break into the second 50 pound bag of seed at the mountain retreat, where our four feeders have been standing room only since they went up in mid-November. And I'm into my second 25-pound bag at the pied-à-terre, which has a mere two feeders.

* * * * *
The triple-beam halogen light on the front of my mountain bike cuts through the darkness, but only barely. No matter, as I purchased it not so much to find my way as to warn motorists and others not to get in my way. It works. So far.

* * * * *
The great P.D. James, for my money the most artful of the great English mystery writers, penned 14 novels with Adam Dalgleish, a New Scotland Yard chief inspector, as the protagonist. These books are like eating popcorn, yummy snacks in between more serious fare, but alas I am only about 100 pages from the end of A Certain Justice, the last of the series. What then shall I do for literary snacking?

* * * * *
We eat a lot of home-cooked Indian and Japanese and food, some of it from Trader Joe's via our freezer, which has prompted me to give some thought to how our taste buds and brains are wired. Samosas, the Indian appetizer, taste great with various chutneys, our favorites being mint and tamarind. Vegetable gyozas, a Japanese appetizer, taste great with hot mustard and duck sauce. But just try eating a samosa with duck sauce or a gyoza with tamarind chutney. Bleech!

* * * * *
I'm not much on New Year's resolutions, but I am making a winter resolution: To get reacquainted with the zodiac and attendant constellations.

* * * * *
I heated with wood for something like 25 years and there is nothing -- I say nothing -- like padding around the house on a frigid February morning with the stove, crank, crank, cranking away. The aroma of the wood (black walnut in the fall, cherry and oak in the winter and Osage orange on the coldest nights), walls and floors warm to the touch, the heat insinuating itself under the skin, is wonderful in a primal sort of way. That noted, coal heat is a close second, especially with the Pennsylvania anthracite rice coal that we have burned the last three winters at the mountain retreat. Long burning, high heat output and less pollution than other coals.

* * * * *
Speaking of energy, we're ready to go solar early in January once the local electrical inspector signs off. And then, for joy, the Metropolitan Edison electricity meter will start running backwards. Happy New Year!


labrys said...

Likewise besieged at bird feeders, using about 40 lbs every five weeks.

Bracing myself this Solstice morning...our holiday was observed last night, the only new year's plan is to investigate solar panels for the well pump...come January.

Then to convince the well-sharing neighbors to pitch in for the upgrade...

Shaun Mullen said...

Move on the solar stuff as quickly as you can. The feds have some pretty nifty tax breaks in place, don't know about whether your state would pitch in too, but this window isn't going to be open forever.

Labrys said...

I am hoping we can convert our community (of 4) well to solar so we might have water when there are power outages. The issue is the conversion and getting the three other families to chip in quickly. But, yes, crossing my fingers this is the year we get it done!