Sunday, December 21, 2008

Winter Solstice

Happy Winter Solstice Everyone!

Not only is today the shortest day of the year, it is also the official beginning of winter.That’s right- all the cold weather you thought was winter was actually autumn giving you a little seasonal appetizer. Nice, eh?

I hate cold weather, so for me the upside of this day is the knowledge that each day will bring with it a little more daylight (yay!). The downside is that I know my patience for crappy cold temperatures will run out long before the crappy cold weather does. I know, we need the cold so we’ll get a good apple crop (yes, apples need several hundred hours of very cold weather in order to be happy), and because it kills off the flies, or at least makes them slow enough to be easy targets. Rain means that soon we’ll hear the frogs in our seasonal creek every night, and the fields certainly need lots of moisture right about now. But it also means wearing 20 pounds or so of clothing every time I leave the house, taking about seven minutes to get dressed just to go out to the barn, and a very strong urge to stay under the covers where it is nice and warm for as long as I can get away with, happy to raise a white flag in the battle against gravity. These urges do not make for productive winter days.

I’m also learning that rainy days make Stella rather restless. It doesn’t seem to me that I am spending that much more time in the house when it rains, but judging from the number and volume level of the sighs emanating from the dog, I apparently am *quite* boring to hang out with when the weather is bad.

We now break for a public service announcement:

Should you, at this time of year, bring mistletoe into the house for the holidays, please keep in mind that mistletoe is in fact a parasite. It lives by sucking the life out of the trees in which you find it. Therefore, when you go to dispose of it, please place it in the trash, and do not put it in the “green” trash with the rest of the vegetative waste from your house, and do not put it in your compost pile.

If you find mistletoe growing in any of your trees, do the tree a favor, and remove it. This usually means removing the entire branch containing the mistletoe back to the main trunk of the tree as the mistletoe has set up a network of roots in the branch- if you just knock off the green part that you can see, the mistletoe will come back very easily next year. For some reason, our area, and Vacaville in general seems to have quite a mistletoe infestation afflicting our trees. One of our black walnut trees had six very large clumps of mistletoe growing in it (each one pretty much filled an entire trash can), and in the two years since I’ve gotten rid of the last of it, the black walnut has flourished with a much thicker canopy than the first few years we lived here.

Also, poinsettias are not poisonous. If you ate the leaves off of 10 plants, you might have a bit of a tummy ache, and your family might wonder about your general state of mind, but you would not die from doing so.

I know, now you will sleep easier at night. I do what I can.

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