Category Archives: Hill Dog Writes

The Hill Dog Writes is a collection of writings by The Hill Dog.

Sundial Eclipse

Sundial Eclipse

All of a sudden it seemed, the day of the eclipse arrived. Friends had shared plans to travel hundreds of miles to “the path of totality” to experience a total eclipse of the sun.

Monday morning, I realized that I was woefully unprepared. No welding goggles, no eclipse viewing glasses. I found paper plates in the cabinet, and experimented with different size pinholes.  At least I would see the eclipse’s shadow.

I had gone to the farm stand and picked up fresh vegetables to make a casserole, portion and freeze. Maybe leave some in the freezer long enough to have a taste of summer when things turn winterish.

I began cooking before noon. The clock drifted toward the time when the eclipse would peak. When time came, I went out to the patio where the sun dial happens to be, and observed the eclipse with my paper plates.  

Crescent shadows appeared on the paper plate as the moon obscured seventy-five percent of the sun, leaving it still too bright to look at without protection.

“Interesting and fun” I thought as I went inside to the kitchen, but not nearly as dramatic as the view from an area of totality. Everybody has a different eclipse experience, I guess.

As I turned back to cutting carrots I noticed all the holes in the colander and wondered what kind of a shadow it would cast.

I found that the colander shadow eclipsed the sundial,
a constellation of star shaped crescents cast by both moon and sun.

Common Periwinkle

Even more so than usual, any gaze cast on the neighborhood illuminates beauty.

Far across the valley, buds, impatient to leaf, nearly glow white, yellow, gold, rust, and every shade of green.

Light green conifer tips shed brown husks that had jacketed them since late Autumn.

Now pollen clouds puff from limbs like powder, like snow did this Winter when wind first picked up ending a snowfalls calm.

Nearby flowerbeds promise Peonies, explode with Periwinkle, begging the question “to where is venomous Myrtle running?”.

In between near and far, Lilacs range every purple shade of which they are capable.

Porcupine

porcupine

Saw this fellow feeding on some still green tinged grass, exposed by recent warm weather.

Odd thing, this patch of snow was near the top of Elk Mountain! Last year, a muskrat spent several weeks wintering just a few feet from where this porcupine was spotted.

Though sickness could have brought him out amongst people in the daylight, it is not unusual to see many different critters high on The Hill.

Sick or not, we gave this guy a wide berth as he enjoyed some rare late December sun rays, filling his belly with a taste of summer.

South Knob Hallstead Hill

south_knob_hallstead_hill

The road leading out of Elkdale follows the Tunkhannock creek along the valley floor before beginning its climb on Lyon Street toward Elk Mountain.

As it is not part of any convenient route from from the outside world to The Hill, this side of the neighborhood, one of the most picturesque, is often unseen by visitors to the area. 

Growing up near Clifford, this was the path brother and his friends drove to go skiing. Most times, even if reluctantly, I’d be allowed to go up on the mountain with the ‘big kids’.

At that time, countless blissful days were spent skiing in blue jeans that, if new enough, would scuff out a patch of blue dye on the snow when gravity got the best of you.

Even though young, our legs would ache after a full day of adventure and exploration skiing with friends on the mountain’s cold, snowy slopes.

Near dark, we’d careen home along this ‘back way’ to the mountain. With “Mountain” rock and roll blaring too loud, from the back seat I’d watch through tired eyes as brother’s little convertible nearly skimmed off the deep walls of snow cut by the snowplow through impossibly deep snowpacks.

To home, home at last.

We’d peel off our soggy blue jeans, and be allowed to wear our long johns to the dinner table.  

The warmth and comfort of a big steaming bowl of pasta served up by Mother would conspire with the fatigue of our growing bodies, causing our eyelids to droop as we barely made it from the table to under the covers, tired, joyful, contented.

 

 

Refuge

Refuge

Soon after dawn, these girls, along with about a half dozen of their friends sidled along the far side of the stone fence.

At first, it was uncertain if they meant to bed down along the wall hoping to somehow pass the day safe and unnoticed, or were making themselves inconspicuous on their way to someplace else.

Several minutes, and several doe passed, turned, and  branching off of the cross-country ski trail, headed into thicker cover.

Before the last one disappeared, their young buck, seeing all was safe, emerged from the mist at the edge of the clearing.

His spikes at first, shown white and raw only recently having had the velvet scraped off, then faded, almost ghostly, as he disappeared back into the grey of morning.

Dwarf grey sugar pea blossom

pea

Just recently have the pea seeds, planted on a whim late this summer, grown up to the point that they’ve begun to blossom.

Delicate flowers appeared just around the time average weekly temperatures moderated from the nineties to the mid eighties.

This small but downward temperature shift faces us toward summer’s end, autumn’s start.

A race now: what will come first fruit or frost?

 

What goes up…


what_goes_up

Just as “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink”, it’s said that “you can lead a cow up stairs, but it’s afraid to walk down stairs, and so, never will”. I know of one neighbor who often keeps new calves in her dining room the first few days of their lives without mishap, but no steps or ups and downs are involved there.

“A crane or tractor, and sometimes, a bullet.” was the grim response when I asked how the situation was resolved if some prankster actually succeeded in leading a cow up a flight of stairs. So, it’s probably best that the anecdote not be tested.

Passing by the huddle of girls above reminded me of this peculiarity of the bovine mind. For many minutes, the cows remained frozen along the bank. The calves, who blindly followed their elders, found themselves stranded half way up the slope when standing room ran out at the top.

One could almost imagine their thoughts:

“I know we must have gotten up here somehow because we are up here now. I think we were eating a nice patch of grass when all of a sudden we were up here, but I just can’t remember right now….”

“If only, oh, if only, if just one of us could figure out how to get down, we could all figure it out, and we’d be saved !”

I’m not sure whether it was memory, intelligence, or perhaps the fluttering of a nearby butterfly that drew one of the girl’s attention to another nearby patch of green along the top of the bank that spread out to the meadow below.

Whether by intelligence, or observation, one brave bossy stepped toward that grass patch that gently led down the slope. The herd followed and was saved from being stranded forever on the dirt bank.

Oh Happy Day!

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