Sunday, September 26, 2010

An Autumn Night

 I was bent on taking photographs of Jupiter - yes, with no more than a camera because that is all I have - but was disappointed to find Jupiter risen through the trees but surrounded by thickening clouds.

 Down there in the valley between the trees is mighty Jupiter! Had I been able to magnify the image to 20x, I'd have expected to see the four Galilean moons strung out left to right: Callisto, Io, Europa and Ganymede. But, as you can see, clouds were already filling the sky at 9 p.m. and my efforts were in vain.
 That's not to say that my time was not well-spent or enjoyable. To the east the moon had already risen and was causing the thin clouds to glow from behind with an otherworldly light. It was a gentle, quiet view.

 In this shot you can see the newly risen moon over West Carrollton and perhaps in this small image you can make out the local cell phone tower flashing its two red lights just below the moon and to the left. That tower stands just east of Venus Road and just south of Hemple Road and is my constant nighttime companion year round. When it flashes its white strobe, it lights my bedroom ceiling with its heartbeat. How technology has changed even the landscape.
And yet the evening was calm and quiet. The usual barking dogs had stilled (odd for the rising moon is often the impetus to howl) and there was little traffic.  Standing beside my tripod in PJ's, I only once used the shadow of a tree as cover as some vehicle threaded its way north along Clayton Road. I saw no other.
 Otherwise the night was perfect. But for a few clouds I'd have taken some nice shots of Jupiter, I think. I'll try ... try ... again. It is never so much the doing - because then the hunt is over - but the quest that is the most enjoyable.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Germantown Pretzel Festival - 2010

 This is the weekend of the 31st annual Germantown Pretzel Festival. Both Saturday (09/25) from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday (09/26) from noon to 6 p.m. the festival will enjoy bright, sunny skies at Veterans Memorial Park.

 We were there for the 10 a.m. opening ceremonies and enjoyed listening to Dayton Daily News columnist Dale Huffman  speak. Then the Valley View High School band played (below).

 I don't remember better weather than this. It was cool (low 60's) during the opening and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. Even the bees, which have a field day at outdoor events in the fall, seemed fewer. The park is full of booths this year.

 We bought a couple of pretzels (of course!) and Mom bought three loaves of homemade bread. That's our usual purchases at the festival.

 Miss Molly's Bakery & Cafe (from Farmersville) had a booth set up near the entrance (just to the north of the fire station). That's the place to get great baked goods.
 There's entertainment beginning at 12:30 p.m. so perhaps we'll go back. Check out more details of the event by clicking here.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Harvesting the Corn

 So today is the day DR Coffman has chosen to take out his crop of corn. Last week he harvested a small section behind us (to test the moisture content?) but we've heard nothing since. This morning, just before 10 a.m., I heard a harvester coming north and could see, from the second floor bathroom window, that he was working in the field south of us. I grabbed my camera, pulled on shoes and ran out onto the back porch to take this shot as he passed our property going west.

 DR always uses his Case harvester, one that's smaller than many we see. I suppose it's like a lawn tractor that's a little less wide: the job takes longer but it gets done just the same.
 I'm sure he's working today because it's been so dry and breezy and there is a chance of a shower later this afternoon. In fact, fairly high winds (to 40 mph) are forecast for later today with the passage of a cold front. It'd be good to get the corn in before that happens.

 After he passed our house, I ran over to our barn and took this picture as he continue westward. Such a dusty job! Since I took this picture, I've been blowing my nose and I had to use eye drops to stop the itching. I am not a farmer at heart.
 The harvesting of this field to our south is something of a watershed event every other year (when there is corn planted there rather than soybeans). Our slowly-evolved privacy, a whole summer on the make, is gone in an afternoon. It's as though we have been living in the bottom of a box and the sides are suddenly peeled down and removed. We join society again through Coffman's work.
 I am saddened, too, by the two years that will pass before we have corn again. Soybeans are so tame in comparison. Give me a field of tall corn, the gentle sounds it makes in the evening wind. Soybeans are stiff and tense in comparison and have none of corn's heart.
 I will again have the neighbor's pole light shining on my closet door tonight. It is as though it has been suddenly installed, an artificial full moon which is there night after night.
 Our winter approaches. This is the almost final call for cold weather.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

King Corn

 No, it's not cotton that's king around here ... it's corn.

 Already the large harvesters are roaming the fields, filling huge bins with the golden harvest. It is early this year, I'd say, and the corn is finished, if not by the season then by the dryness. First, the field north of us was taken out last week. Then, over the weekend, the fields to the east of the pond were harvested. As we walked, this is what we saw (above).

 How can it be that a single kernel of corn converts to this in but a few months? Nature's multiplication tables are set and well known. A single kernel, drilled into the ground in May, produces usually a single cob per plant. Each cob contains anywhere from 500 to 1200 kernels (the average is 800). And so the factor is on the order of 200 times per month.
 An acre, I am told, brings about 200 bushels, some much more, some less. It's a wonder we can't hear the production, it is so rapid and vast.
 I remember writing in Pinehaven that I enjoyed hearing the gentle sounds of corn leaves sliding past one another even on a calm night. Is it any wonder? These plants are industrious!
 And so the season closes with a bang. The empty metal bins are dragged noisily to the fields, filled in a tornado of dust and then rattled along the asphalt roadways of Jackson Twp. to the silos. I hear them still gathering in the early night.
 When I awaken again, all is quite. Then a new days of agriculture begins. And finally, as they fields lay bare and the air cools, the sounds of silence again descend on Farmersville.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

March of the Bullfrogs

 We tend to think of spring as that singular wild awakening of nature but I am here to add to that. Every season has its awakenings and at the Farmersville/Jackson Twp. Pond, yesterday was one of those days.
 As Mom and I walked the track, and as we approached the pond from the northwest, she stopped look at something on the red-stained asphalt track. This is what she saw:

 This tiny bullfrog, a perfect replica on the monstrosities that line the bank and give such low bellows in the summer, was crossing the track and moving away from the pond. A rare rain had fallen just an hour before and I suppose it was that rain that was the impetus for the exodus.
 Why are they leaving the water's edge? How far away will they go? Are they preparing for winter's start? These are bullfrogs, of course, and not common woodland toads.

 Here's a closer look at another toad. As tiny as they are - mere dime-sized specs - they are perfect replicas even at this early age. I would think this is this year's eggs, this season's tadpoles. In the months since they were spawned in the frigid water, they have grown to 3/4 of an inch on average.
 That cool rain must have sent them moving, away from water's edge to ... where? In the course of our walk around the pond's edge, we counted a dozen. They'd hop if our steps came too close. I tried to pick up one and move him from the track but he'd have none of that. He must have leaped ten times his height!
 And so nature goes on,. creating, adding. All the while hidden from popular view. Nature is always generating, always increasing. I have wet knees to prove that the miracles of nature were today beneath our very feet.