Worth Waking Up

Yesterday morning was one of those mornings you were glad you opened your eyes again. The morning sky was a grand fireworks display.

The mild winter has me dreaming of fresh greens, and it’s time to get seedlings ready. Yesterday it was komatsuna 小松菜 and spinach seeds that I planted. Compared to the tiny komatsuna seeds, spinach seeds are easy to grasp and plant. There is something pleasing about the feel of spinach seeds, not perfectly round like many seeds, the slightly lumpy, bumpy spinach seeds

Delivering tofu to the Anacortes Food Co-op on Mondays, has become a routine. For those of you in Anacortes, Monday evening is your chance of buying tofu made that day. I usually make my deliveries between three and four in the afternoon. This time of year it’s a chance to see which fields the swans are grazing, and on clear days, soak in the views of Mount Baker.

Terror Strikes

Cleaning out our closets, we uncovered this bright, snug, warm hat. Though I discovered that it strikes terror in the hearts of the chickens. If I wear it and step into the chicken yard, the chickens cry in horror and go running for the exit. It’s double terror for them if I show up in my bright yellow raincoat.

It must be the bright red of the hat which makes my head look like it’s on fire, or some misshapen comb on a giant rooster. For the safety and well-being of all, I take off the red hat before entering the chicken yard. The chickens don’t budge if I show up with a dull brown or dark blue or grey hat. I can step right over them without them even bothering to look up.

A Hundred Words for Happy Things

The ducks start the mornings with joy. As soon as I let them out, they squeal for joy and grunt merrily as they root for things to eat. Ducks seem to have a hundred words for happy things. You can almost understand them as they comment on what they find, “Oh, that’s good, not good, divine, have you ever tasted anything so good?” Ducks enjoy commenting on their food more than people.

This evening’s sunset was a stunner. It hardly seems like January anymore. Today is the start of another long, warm, dry spell. At this rate, the first of the daffodils will be in bloom before February.

Eat or Be Eaten

On this Sunday morn, of the 72 eggs I left at Tweets on Thursday, how many are left, or did the crowd who descended on Edison yesterday finish them all off? Customers from all over the world sojourn to Tweets. By this morning, the digested eggs laid by chickens in this peaceful patch of woods could be the flesh of rejuvenated customers getting off planes in Dubai, Sydney, or Cape Town. Could be, you know.

The sweet daphne is close to blooming and scenting the air with its dreamy fragrance. I love the scent of gardenias, but it is too cold for gardenias here. Sweet daphne’s perfume is just as heady, a scent so heavy you can float on it.

Each day the daffodil buds stretch ever higher. Soon the buds will be lemon yellow and ready to pop open.

A gift of many bags of pine needles is now a soft trail in the woodland. The pine tree these pine needles dropped from is a towering giant which sloughs off needles constantly. The friend who patiently sweeps these needles up says a gift awaits me every three to four months.

Yesterday our neighbor texted us that a neighbor warned them of a cougar in the area. Was it that cougar who scared some of our chickens two days ago? Something made a handful of them fly over the fence and run down the driveway. I found a few feathers from the spot where the chickens scattered, but no chickens were missing when I closed them up that night, and if it was a cougar it disappeared in a flash.

It gives me pause about walking the trails, or going into the woods to deal with the fallen trees, but I doubt a cougar would find a man carrying a chainsaw inviting. I don’t think a cougar would approach a man with a chainsaw running, making a racket, and sending a cloud of chips flying as he cuts into fallen tree trunks.

Well, if this post goes permanently quiet, you’ll know where I am, in the belly of a cougar plodding on soft, pine needle laden trails.

Chicken Stampede

This morning was serene when I went out to make tofu in the cabin. Beams of sunlight made the frosty grass sparkle. In the trees, songbirds sang to the rising sun.

I had no idea a stampede of chickens was on my heels. The chickens come running when they see me go to the cabin to make tofu. They know that it won’t be long before they get a treat of okara, the ground, soybean mash, which is produced in the process of making soy milk. It is the soy milk which is made into tofu.

January Surprises

This morning started crisp with a dazzling sun promising surprises, promises like daffodils shooting above the frosty ground.

A winter daisy blooming at a friend’s house is a nice January surprise. So is efferfescent Scarlet with her flashy, droopy hat.

Towards evening it is so calm the pond is smoother than a mirror. The reflections of the towering cottonwoods are so real, it’s like I could reach out and touch their feathery tops. No need to slither up their trunks and risk life and limb to feel their highest branches between my fingers, all I need do is kneel at the edge of the pond and stick out my hand.

A sunset this brilliant hints of more surprises to come tomorrow.

March Shows Up Unexpectedly

March stopped by for a visit today, bringing blue skies, cherry blossoms, and spring warmth. This odd cherry tree blooms all year long, usually just a few flowers at a time, but today it was dazzling.

While weeding the warming earth, I spotted rhubarb flush with new growth. Rhubarb swelling in January? The chickens sure are enjoying the warm weather.

Even the wispy clouds have a touch of March.

A Happy Dance

This unusually warm January has me thinking cherry blossoms. It’s too early to start counting, but once it is February 1, if you start adding the high temperature of each day in centigrades, by the time the total gets to 400, the cherry blossoms should be blooming.

On the far side of the pond, underneath the barren cherry trees, Happy is flapping his wings. It’s not the circular courtship dance he makes when he’s in love, it’s more a, “Look how big and strong I am,” happy dance.

Far, Far Away in Pipa-Us-I

Thursdays are one of my tofu making days. It’s a quiet, peaceful thing to do, and gives me a chance to travel. Japan may have more train buffs than anywhere, and many of them record entire train rides, hours long. Pick any train line in Japan, and you can find numerous recordings of the entire line from start to end.

This morning, as I made my tofu, I was on the Furano Line in Hokkaido, watching the scenery unfold from Asahikawa to Furano. The train stopped at a station with an unusual name, Bibaushi 美馬牛, which translates to Beautiful Horse Cow, which made me research how that station got such an unusual name, which led me to discover that the name came from the Ainu name Pipa-Us-I, which means river of many mussels.

With today’s bread, egg, and tofu deliveries ready, I get to stop along the way to enjoy trumpeter swans feeding in muddy fields. How many tofu makers pass trumpeter swans on their deliveries?

Flying Sheep

A bicycle ride to the post office is a chance to see Chuckanut Mountain in one of its winter moods. On the fields across the road from Bow Hill Blueberries the swan are grazing.

From a distance, flocks of swans look like flocks of sheep until they flap their wings and take off.