Friday, April 13, 2007

frozen peaches, pears and cheese

I see the universe as being made up of a giant orchestra of species all humming their own parts and keeping things in harmony and balance. Any loss of species is a tragic loss of a member of the orchestra, dimenishing the music of the spheres that sets the score for our mutual existence. The loss of a player contributes to the rising discordent beat of our decadent lifestyle. To care whether it is lost or not is also a hum, and I try and remember what the lost chord was like, as if in memorial a tiny ghost of it can contribute in the form of a little echo.
I always hold hope till the very end that recovery is possible, even if slow, because I inherited that gene of joy from my hero, my Daddy.
So , I too have been considering volcanic winter and did a little research on it, didn't find out what I was looking for, but it did remind me of a story.
When the boys were babies, I lived up a holler near the Cumberland river down in Jackson county. At the back of the holler lived a very elderly couple (Mr. and Miz. Flatt) that befriended me and told me all kinds of interesting stories, about "back in the day", when they were young and beautiful and full of piss and vinegar and raising up their own younguns'
"The day" for them would have been in the early 1900's.
(and yes, Hunt's Poorly, I know you are thinking, "why doesn't she right these down!!!" well, I know, this ephemeral format doesn't count)
Anyway...For them, the world was a different place, their holler (called "Dry Holler", a common name in the Upper Cumberland around the counties) was, like most of the others, not actually dry. They usually had a large spring that came up, and then disappeared mysteriously to emerge later on down the holler, maybe once or twice, or maybe only just before, it ended up at the river. But the earth had dried up a lot since those days and dry hollers are actually dry, now (oh, wait, this is a whole 'nother story...sorry about that)
ANYWAY. One day the three of us were sitting around on their back porch eating a bowl of pears with velveeta shredded on top. My babies where on a blanket in the yard, collecting ticks for me to have to pick off them later. Mz. Flat had pulled the pears from her root cellar where she had canned them in a mason jar, and the pears reminded her of a story. There was a summer back when they were first married (which would have been sometime before 1920) and a couple of their babies was already on the ground, that everything froze out after the crops where all up and running. The peaches where the size of golf balls and first it snowed on them, then that night it got down in the twentys and they turned black and rained down. Corn, potatoes, beans, all a good ways along toward production and they all froze black. We pert near starved to death that year, she said, as there was no money to get 'brought on" food. They let the hens range free after that and ate eggs till winter, then ate fish out of the river. The trees were damaged, she recalled and you can still see that winter in the lumber sometimes when them trees end up at the sawmill. I can't ask them any more questions, of course, as they are long passed away.

I was remembering this story and did some research, didn't find what I was looking for...but
here is a link to average annual temperatures, projected and measured in the context of volcanic winters. I don't see a volcano related to this dip in temperature around that time (between 1900 and 1920), but something obviously happened.


Bill April 13, 2007 at 8:58 AM  

Cady May, great use of language and interesting subject matter--thanks for the fine reading.

Tragic or however one might feel about something like this it is an expansive thing to behold, for it pushes back the boundaries of what is usual. It demands our attention.

Interesting to look at volcanic winters--aren't we lucky at the moment not to be in one! By the way parulas have the energy to spare in the yard, but I wonder if they spread through the woods as they should be. A white-throated sparrow did look a little peak-ed.
As far as volcanic winters, I keep bumping into the words of those who speak of the variability of the heat of the sun.

Some maples seemed to have pushed out fresh leaves.

Anonymous April 14, 2007 at 8:36 AM  

Hi Cady May,

Phoebes have abandoned a nest full of eggs and are no longer in evidence, as neither Paruala nor Gnat-catcher It piques the imagination as to there whereabouts. My ignorance is vast about the extent of the frost. How far south they would have to go to find insects? How far could they go? Phoebes in particular have concerned me in the past, showing up here in December, January, Febuary, but they are said to consume vegetables when necessary. If they fly-catchers did go south would they have a particular haunt in mind, where they overstayed on their way up here? All interesting points to mull. I could be wrong not to do this, but I just don't put much energy into picturing them dead.

Haven't heard the waterthrush recently either...maybe when the rain stops and the sun appears the branches will be full of voluable blue-birds--how's that for magical thinking? Just yesterday morning there were parulas here.

Bill April 17, 2007 at 4:30 AM  

Whoops, didn't mean to be anonymous. I got to wondering what the heck I was referring to when I wrote of a "variable sun".

Cady May April 17, 2007 at 5:53 AM  

Hi Bill,
That was an interesting link, especially in terms of the equipment needed to track the sunspot activity. I guess I haven't given any thought to the need for consistency in the method as well as the record keeping, and the complications of developing the required instrumentation...hmmm.

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