too long

the fall semester seems a little too long
about now,
but there is a sense of catching up as everyone makes their
last sheets of paper:
cotton rag (recycled)
when rachael asked for color
she was delighted with how purple happened
when we added in some off-cuts and beat them with the abaca/kozo
and then she 
chose what she thought might be a rich teal.
she mixed off cuts of green, yellow, and midnight blues...
the pulp promised a deep teal
but resolved into a layered light summer green.
this color mixing was more like working with paint than pigment,
or a chemical alchemy unpredictable
because we worked with leftovers.
 my 15, six vats,
eli's wee moulds made at the farm.
 we got some waterproof aprons! 
and supplement with the printmaking ones
 so many folks in a small space
shared with the silkscreen class, too!
i have them fairly well trained...
six of the students are living at the farm
where the sustainability program runs what looks a lot like a supported commune
(remember communes? now called intentional communities around here.)
the sustainability program has taken on the motto:
they understand they why of making paper by hand.

winter supplies on the porch:
milkweed pods
 dead leaves and sticks (iris, daylily, milkweed)
 new snow shovel
contact printing bundle of plants
 slippery elm bark
 more sticks
 black walnut dye
i often wonder what delivery or service folks think. 
my friends know that the porch is a bit of a supply/storeroom/disaster.
 one of my favorite neighborhood buildings
a wobbly roofline 
indicates it won't make it much longer.
 not all tracks left behind are wildlife
 snow caps on cut birch
 icing up

 if i'm really brave i harvest some greenery for printing
it's really hard on your hands.
so cold.
that old barn in the last sunshine of the day
 snow comes and goes as winter locks in.
on a fine day in december, as the sun begins the fast setting
it's time to reflect.
the year winds down.
it's time for hunger in the woods.

thanking porcupine

a large flat package came with the instructions
don't open till the 25th, or sooner if you wish.
 i waited
ian made us a drawing of home.
home in the woods
(these woods are actually overgrown farmland, marginal at best, 
 logged before once or twice, and before that, woods)
the front of the house faces a meadow and the ridges that form the land.
 the back, where the back door, bridge, and side door live
is the side where the work happens.
 i see some odd beasts in the snowy woods
 the sun came out after the big snow.
that's when it gets cold.
  walks this week have been painfully cold
so much so that i barely go out.
(don't listen to my complaints about car troubles, over 2K worth,
and the fact that these old knees don't like the cold any more,
and the fact i'm housebound)
 this is when the snow set in.
 the stream that winds through and out and away
 i think this is wool grass
 gin might know
 when it gets this cold,
so cold that a face mask is essential.
i need to stay at my place to keep an eye on things
the new place also has to be kept warm, a different task.
 hauling wood and feeding the stove is straightforward hard work, 
here it's a furnace and potentially freezing pipes. 
 the new place is warmer and tighter with 14 in. outside walls.
i become grumpy when i have to drive 5 hours for a post op check.
i spotted this small fierce one yesterday, finally,
and went out later when s/he returned to the woods.
i'd seen evidence of eating activity in the arbor vitae
deer and porcupine already.
here s/he is.
 porcupine has begun feeding the cedar (arbor vitae) by my diveway
 s/he was not happy about me speaking and photographing,
and tried for a bit to enter my garage.
 i found that porcupine did not like having snow tossed at it
s/he turned away and was off.
 i was presented with the armor side, 
and if i got closer that tail would have tried to bop me one.
they can move surprisingly quickly.
when i first moved to the north country i lived in star lake in the adirondacks.
i found dead porcupines, and harvested some quills, with thanks.
they became part of a coil basket, and some were umbilicaria lichen dyed
and given to silversmith friends.
which were given back to me as earrings!
anyway, my neighbors stopped once,
asking me if i need help.
i was taking some quills from a roadkilled one. they thought i'd had an accident. 
needed help.
i thought they were worried i wouldn't take care of (relocate) the body.
a lesson in perspective and gratitude.
it's hard to maintain both practices isn't it?