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The December Wilds

The first wildness was our local porcupine sunning himself (I don’t really know if he is a he or she) in front of the henhouse this morning. I nearly stepped on him on my way to feed the chickens because I was so busy looking at a wild hardy kiwi vine on the adjacent shed and wondered how I was ever going to prune and tame it. Fortunately the movement of the porcupine, including getting all his quills in fighting order, woke me out of reverie in time.  I thought he would amble off, but no. He ambled up onto the step of the henhouse, where perhaps the stone was even warmer than the wet grass.

I ran in to get the camera and ran back to find the porcupine with his nose, and maybe his teeth, nudging the door.  I learned recently that porcupines like to eat wood and the hen house is so old that it might taste like sponge cake – or at least have that texture. I finally had to give up waiting. I did have other things to do besides talk to a silent porcupine.  The hens got their breakfast at lunch time, but they had not yet totally emptied their feeder, or waterer.

Then it was off to town, Shelburne Falls, for a little shopping. I needed candles. We always need lots of candles at Christmastime, so my first stop was at Mole Hollow candles right next to Salmon Falls. We had at least 2 inches of rain Wednesday night and the Deerfield River was in full flood. The Falls dam was partially let down and the Falls themselves were wild.  Fortunately, I never go anywhere without my camera.

This is an unusal sight at this time of the year when the river should be quiet, and icy, but this odd mild season is driving us all wild.

And time is rushing wildly. Readers have only til midnight tonight to leave a comment and have their name put in a drawing for Nan Ondra’s great new book, The Perennial Care Manual, and 2 dozen CowPots for seed starting. The drawing is tomorrow morning.

8 comments to The December Wilds

  • I’m glad the hens got their food, but it’s always nice making new friends. It’s a good thing you don’t have a dog, however.

  • 70 degrees on Thursday, cold rain today with a chance of an inch or 2 of snow tonight here in southeastern MA. I’m mixed between wishing for 2 more weeks of autumn weather or calling it a season and welcoming the peacefulness of winter. Your post gave me the gentle nudge to go out and gather greens and branches for wreathmaking, and maybe just maybe put George Winston’s “December” in the cd player. Happy holidays!

  • Angela Kermoade

    Thankful that my Mom has not had to shovel the driveway or scrape the ice off the car however, it is just another reminder that global warming is in effect. Let’s all do our part this Holiday season to limit our footprint and give Mother Earth a gift! Cheers to all!

  • admin

    Tinky – No dogs and I think the cats know to stay away.
    Kate – I think it is time to call it a season. Winter music is in order.
    Angela – Ice is never fun, but I’m with you on trying to limit our footprint.

  • What an amazing gift of nature to have a porcupine come to visit. I’m going to link here next Saturday in my “Best of the Web”. Thank you for sharing your gift of nature with us.

  • Peter

    Thank you for always being with camera at hand: the photograph of the Deerfield in full fury was a reminder of just how beautiful Shelburne Falls can be, and a reminder too of Mole Hollow Candles. Hmmm… how to make a segue into gardening -well Mole Hollow offers real bees wax candles and the aroma is one of the several sensual delights that emanate from the hive. Oh, and bearing in mind the garden, does anyone have a source for real bayberry candles. Now there’s a glorious aroma. I gave a pair to a friend a few Christmases ago. She lit them before going to bed on Christmas eve. The idea/myth/wishful thinking is that the aroma of bayberry blesses the entire house and all who dwell within for the coming year. True bayberry wax burns completely so that on Christmas morning one only finds a minute pile of ash where the candle once stood. And of course the air is scented with bayberry and the house blessed for the year – not bad things with which to be greeted prior to the madness of opening Christmas gifts. A good source for bayberry candles is http://www.isabellacatalog.com/ (two 6″ candles are hand-dipped, $14.95). The site quotes ”A bayberry candle burned to the socket brings food to the larder and gold to the pocket.”

    Another source, http://www.alleghenycandles.com/ (single taper is $9.99) says, “When the first settlers arrived on our shores, every moment was one of survival. Everything was in short supply including candles. Generally candles were made of tallow (animal fat) which tend to smoke and give off an odor. They can turn rancid as well. It didn’t take long for the early colonists to discover that the abundant bayberry bush had berries that would give off a waxy residue when boiled. They learned to collect and save the bayberry wax that would rise to the surface of the water and make them into taper candles. The bayberry tapers burned longer and cleaner than the tallow version. Unfortunately, it takes a lot of bayberries to make enough wax to make a single taper. These bayberry tapers were a real treasure to the colonists who saved them for special occasions. To have a bayberry candle was a luxury to be saved and relished. It became the tradition to burn your bayberry candle on Christmas or New Years eve to bring blessings of abundance in the coming year.”

    Pat: my aromatic garden would have boxwood hedges (now there’s a heavenly aroma, to my mind) and be filled with bayberry. Of course, given the season, I’d also grow trees of the genus Boswellia (frankincense) and Commiphora (myrhh), but, hey, I live in Connecticut. But if I were heading for a manger scene and needed to bring a gift, boxwood and bayberry would be that Child’s gifts. Also loved the photograph of the porcupine-in-the-manger. Happy St. Nicholas Day, and congratulations on two years of brilliant blooging!

  • admin

    Carole – I can’t figure out where that porcupine is living, but he (she?) has been turning up with some regularity. Thanks for visiting and the link. Your blog is instructional and inspiring. I’ll be visiting often.
    Peter – I never realized bayberry candles were actually made of bayberries. I will get one, and thanks for the links, so that we can properly assure blessings on our house. Which as you know is already in a blessed spot.
    Pat

  • […] Ever had a porcupine come to visit? What an amazing gift of nature that is. Common Weeder shares this exciting event here. […]

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