Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Enough snow already!

By now we've seen enough snow around here to do for a while, so here's the upstairs Christmas cactus instead, blooming its little green heart out. There are two of these, one up and one down, but the downstairs version --- a different shade of pink --- hangs in an odd place and because of that is not as photogenic as this one.

I've posed the cactus (temporarily) on the old banged-up piano stool that's held a Christmas cactus for generations. I remember it sitting in the east window of Granddad Miller's downstairs bedroom out at the farm with his mother's cactus on it. I wonder what became of that plant (thrown out, I'll bet). My great-aunt Easter wanted it and Granddad gave it to her, but most if not all of her descendants moved someplace other than Chariton and I'd guess no one took it along. It was an old one, planted in a big enameled cooking pot that had rusted through and been recycled (waste not, want not). Since it predated the hybrid craze, it's blossoms were not as elaborate as these, but I wish we'd gotten a start off it anyway.

IT'S BEEN COLDER than the dickins here, but the deepest snow is in north Iowa where we had about a foot by the time it warmed up slightly last week, and now a fresh coat has been added and we're poised on a cold, sunny day between storms. The warnings are out statewide for that one, which seems predisposed to deposit ice in Lucas County and snow, in Cerro Gordo. Hopefully, we'll not have a rerun of last December's ice storm down south.

I timed yesterday's trip north just right, so felt safe taking the back roads. It had just started to snow in Chariton and since it was extremely cold the snow was light and dry and the wind wasn't strong enough to hinder visibility. It turned out to be a beautiful drive, all three hours-plus of it, with snow all the way, blowing off most of the north-south roads I traveled. Just like that Christmas card, as we sometimes say. Only between Union and the hills south of Eldora, where there's lots of shelter, had snow accumulated much on the roads and even then it wasn't slippery.

BUT COLD, oh yes. I finally got around Monday to going out to the cemetery to exchange (I thought) fall for Christmas flowers --- I know, I know, it seems odd to some but it's just one of the things we do around here. The dead quite often are as much with us at the holidays as not, so it seems nice to remember them this way.

Salem is one of the coldest places in creation come winter because there's nothing there where the prairie begins to break toward the Chariton River bottoms to stop the wind. There's been a lot of wind lately and that had scattered faded floral tributes, including my own, far and wide across the farm field to the north so there wasn't much use for the garbage bag I took along.

Used to be, the cemetery had a north fence line full of brush and stuff that stopped most of what was blowing around the cemetery and I could bag the debris and take it away. But now, in a fit of greed, the megafarmer who crops the field to the north has taken the fence row out so he can plant a row or so closer to the graves and there's no stopping anything when the wind's in the south. Kind of hope some of those wired flowers plug up his equipment come spring, the greedy bastard.

Anyhow, I accomlished my mission although it seemed for a minute or two when I stepped out of the truck and into the wind that I might be found there in the cemetery frozen solid with a plastic (silk actually) poinsettia clutched in my cold, dead hand. But I made it out and back, although I surely didn't linger.

Now I guess it's time to get back to the Christmas cards.

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