Mountain Musings: On the Seasons

Mountain Musings – A guest column by Dottie Simmons who lives in eastern Humboldt County describes life at her rural homestead:

Musing on the seasons, on the year ahead…

Winter Rainbow

“Winter is an Etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting and autumn a mosaic of them all.” Stanley Horowitz

I love this quote. One reason I live where I do is a deep need to feel all the seasons. I am connected, this life is connected, deeply to the journey of our planet around the sun and what each season demands of us… and gives us in return. And that begins with beauty. A good thing, since each has a load of work specific to the time of year.

And it is the beauty and tasks and variety brought by each season that I have been thinking about. There is, as with everything, a balance, a harmony to be found that matches each part of the year. Right now, post – Holly-Daze and deep into winter, enjoying the bounty of the previous year and planning for the one ahead. Winter is a time of rest and moving slower here. A time of rejuvenation for us and the meadows and forests around us and filled with the glory of the earth blushing green, washed clean of summer dust and sometimes buried in the silent pristine beauty of snow.

With the rain and sometimes snow our life turns inward. I don’t ‘Spring Clean’; rather I use the winter season to tear rooms apart and deep clean. Sorting and saving or discarding the flotsam and jetsam of the past year. This is done rather in fits and starts as I am easily distracted by a cold, indoor day as an invitation to sit by the woodstove and read. 

We still have greens and garlic in the greenhouses, mature cole, greens, and carrots in the garden to supplement the pantry goods, but they need little tending. A small seedmat and light is set up indoors where, by late winter, seeds are sprouting for the seasons ahead.

Spring Blossoms

Spring brings an explosion of green and fantastic growth. Winter’s new shoots seem to grow visibly with warmer, longer, days. If you mow, as we do, for defensible space or otherwise, you really notice how fast things grow in the well-watered earth. In the garden it is all prep and planting balanced by the cool weather crop harvest. Spinach and lettuce, brassicas and peas. Herbs are putting out wild growth and fruiting perennials are blooming and buzzing with pollinators. Spring demands a full tilt into all the tasks at once. Sore muscles/warm nights & hot water under the stars…
We mark the time with the arrival of different species of birds, their courtship and nesting, as well as the frogs deafening chorus and then eggs in the pond, and all manner of wildlife welcoming new life into the world. It is a season of promise.

Summer

As we move into summer there will be more planting, now of the more delicate plants. In our location we don’t trust it to be frost-free until June, so we wait to plant tomatoes and peppers, basil and cucurbits. In the hot weather they catch up quickly. Harvest will begin in earnest with summer squash and beans and herbs, berries, and even cherries. The preservation of our garden harvest for the year ahead will start and increase with each passing month. But unlike spring and fall, summer is actually a calmer time, more evenly paced with longer days to enjoy.

Autumn

Then it comes… you can feel it in the air, smell it, taste it… the change. One day you wake up and you can just ‘tell’ autumn has arrived. The time of full on harvesting and putting up food for winter. Starting winter crops and starting to fill the woodshed with wood that has been drying in the summer heat. It is cider time, sometimes pear as well as apple. It is the time when the pattern and populations of animals starts to change as geese start flying and other birds and animals start moving down from higher elevations where they have spent the summer. Some, like the Turkey Vultures, even move from here down to the coast. Amphibians burrow into the mud and reptiles hibernate. Trees lose their leaves, plants wither, grasses now golden and dry from summer heat and drought. The world slows down around us.

Winter

And then, someday, it will change again. The winds shift and the clouds come and, if we are lucky, it turns to rain and cooler weather. And we build the first fire in the heat stove and wrap up the year and settle in to enjoy the rewards of the season’s labors. Winter is the season of rest and the gateway to new beginnings.

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Mel
Guest
Mel
1 month ago

Soon, the very people you vote for, will force you off that homestead.

B Honest
Guest
B Honest
1 month ago
Reply to  Mel

California has some crazy rules starting in 2030.

First no more news gasoline cars. Only electric cars and southern Humboldt already has power issues for new growth

2045 California needs to be 100% zero emissions. That means a electric heater, stove and more.

How can that be for some parts of Humboldt that are off grid?

Time to get the leadership in place to save our lifestyle

Brian D Roberts for district 2 supervisor on March 5th

Eyore Glum
Guest
Eyore Glum
1 month ago
Reply to  B Honest

It was a good run while it lasted. And it’s not like we were never warned.
But now dawns the season of despair. The powers that prevail tell us to abandon hope, eat bugs and move into 15-minute cities where pervasive AI is ready to monitor all of our every behaviors and restrict our liberties accordingly. Some perceptive prophets warn most of us are already scheduled for planned obsolescence, while some scant few are allowed to remain just long enough to onboard their own replacements.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kq1dq7Uc6iI

CsMisadventures
Guest
CsMisadventures
1 month ago
Reply to  Eyore Glum

Yeah about that whole 15-minute city thing….what is being fed to you about it is the work of RWNJ conspiracies. Even French-Colombian Carlos Moreno (Read his transcript here), the one who first wrote about the idea to French President Anne Hidalgo said the 15-minute idea was completely misconctrued to be some stalinist, people trapping idea. It is nothing like that at all. It addresses things like food and fuel “islands” in densely packed urban areas where it can take considerable time to reach just a corner mini mart if you live in a 15-story building. Or get to a nearby public transportation line. It’s a means to make new development more efficient FOR citizens where they live, not force ANYone to move. But the usual internutz completely rewrite the idea into something that fits their personal beliefs.
I’ve read the whole thing. Nobody is getting herded like cattle into glass cities in the desert. Even the paper writer himself said so. In a 15 minute city, all it means is it shouldn’t take the average person all day to accomplish whatever it is they need to get done in a day. This doesn’t apply to rural areas like ours.

thetallone
Guest
thetallone
1 month ago
Reply to  Dot

I want to see you cut a 20″ oak with a battery chain saw.

tru matters
Guest
tru matters
1 month ago

To everything turn, turn, turn
There is a season turn, turn, turn And a time to every purpose under Heaven
A time to be born, a time to die A time to plant, a time to reap To everything turn, turn, turn

There is a season turn, turn, turn And a time to every purpose under Heaven A time to be born, a time to die A time to plant, a time to reap A time to kill, a time to heal A time to laugh, a time to weep To everything turn, turn, turn There is a season turn, turn, turn

A time to kill, a time to heal A time to laugh, a time to weep To everything turn, turn, turn There is a season turn, turn, turn
Pete Seeger-

Ernie Branscomb
Guest
Ernie Branscomb
1 month ago

I have at least 28 seasons that I enjoy. It seems like every day brings a new interesting sight. Every year has something happen that just blows my mind. This year it was the wild mushrooms. I’ve never seen so many, and so many varieties. One year it was the Pepperwood nuts that very literally covered the ground with nuts.

In SoHum we laughingly call our two seasons “Dust” and “Mud”.

I do look forward to spring every year. Spring is my feel-good season, I really like all of the new growth and the wildflowers.

I think summer my favorite season. It was always my season of prosperity. I like the smell of the hot brush and grasses, the fir trees… I look forward to the smell of willow brush along the river.

Fall is like a pretty lady painting her face to offset the years and dreading the winter of her life. The trees always take on a very subtle colorful beauty.

Winter is when we face all of the “Indoor jobs” that we have put-off because we had things outdoor to do. We make lists, build a fire and cozy up in a chair and watch it… Somebody has to make sure the fire burns.

I really like Dottie’s stories. It reminds me of all the things I left behind. The good and the bad.

Last edited 1 month ago
CsMisadventures
Guest
CsMisadventures
1 month ago

These microclimates are good like that: seasons change by the hour it seems. Wake up, foggy and drizzle. 110 later. Rain Tuesday. Back to 95 Friday, frost on the hilltops? Maybe.

c u 2morrowD
Member
1 month ago

this was a refreshing read, thank you.

Humboldt
Member
Humboldt
1 month ago

Wow.
Those are some incredible photos.