Thursday, August 30, 2012

Blue Moon over Leetonia

What ever you want to do once in a blue moon you better do it on the 31st. There won't be another one until August 21, 2013 and then again on May 21, 2016. According to the Farmers almanac a blue moon happens when there are more than 3 moons during a season, the 4th moon is a blue moon. On average, there will be 41 months that have two Full Moons in every century, so you could say that once in a Blue Moon actually means once every two-and-a-half years. The rare phenomenon of two blue moons (using the more recent definition) occurring in the same year happens approximately once every 19 years. 1999 was the last time a blue moon appeared twice, in January and March.

Of course the moon won't be actually blue this only occurs during times of atmospheric polution such after forest fires in Sweden and Canada in 1950 and 1951 and after the eruption of Krakatoa in 1883, which caused the moon to appear blue for nearly two years. Other less potent volcanos have also turned the moon blue. People saw blue moons in 1983 after the eruption of the El Chichon volcano in Mexico, and there are reports of blue moons caused by Mount St. Helens in 1980 and Mount Pinatubo in 1991.
On September 23, 1950, several muskeg fires that had been smoldering for several years in Alberta, Canada suddenly blew up into major — and very smoky — fires. Winds carried the smoke eastward and southward with unusual speed, and the conditions of the fire produced large quantities of oily droplets of just the right size (about 1 micrometre in diameter) to scatter red and yellow light. Wherever the smoke cleared enough so that the sun was visible, it was lavender or blue. Ontario, Canada and much of the east coast of the United States were affected by the following day, and two days later, observers in Britain reported an indigo sun in smoke-dimmed skies, followed by an equally blue moon that evening.
The key to a blue moon is having lots of particles slightly wider than the wavelength of red light (0.7 micrometre) — and no other sizes present. This is rare, but volcanoes sometimes produce such clouds, as do forest fires. Ash and dust clouds thrown into the atmosphere by fires and storms usually contain a mixture of particles with a wide range of sizes, with most smaller than 1 micrometre, and they tend to scatter blue light. This kind of cloud makes the moon turn red; thus red moons are far more common than blue moons.(Information from Wiki).

Some people believe full moons are the time to make wishes and what a better time than under a blue moon and it looks like Leetonians will be able to see the blue moon since there are no clouds forecast for that night. There isn't a better place than Leetonia to see the night sky. Without any ambient light you can see forever. I often see falling stars and think about how lucky we all are to have beauty overhead and under our feet. Mountain girl, Paula, logging out and wishing on a "Blue Moon".

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

If a tree falls?

Strange things have been happening to me lately in the woods of Leetonia. During the last month as a walk the road towards Leetonia I have had three trees fall along side the road within 100 feet of me. The tree fell when there are "no winds". I can tell you when a large tree bits the dust unexpectedly near you in a quiet woods you jump a bit. Even the dogs jump and the hair comes up on their backs looking in the direction of the noise expecting perhaps something making this noise to show itself. But when they can't see or smell anything life returns to normal for them.
But us humans start to wonder. Why are these trees falling(all pines) so close to me on a quiet walk? To add to the mystery, I started to write a book last Spring, fiction, inspired from my childhood summers here with my grandparents. Often I think about the book on my walks and look to the forest for inspiration. The night before the third tree fell I wrote this part of my book, which takes place on the very road I walk on:

"As I walked home from Orenda's I thought about our lesson of silent walking, but the stones in the road called to me to kick them. I chased the little rocks down the road past the ferns then something made me stop and listen. I heard nothing, A cold wave came over the hill. It touched my head and I shivered. The hair on my arms raised and my breath froze in the air. The cold dark wind swirled around me from my head to my toes then disappeared.  I ran last half mile home never looking back to see if anything followed the strange wind that silenced the woods."

So I was primed for suspense before the tree fell and after it fell it seemed like more than an accident. How many people have three trees fall during their morning walks in one month. If there is anyone else out there with this many trees falling on calm days please email me. 

Not often am I startled or afraid in the woods at least not as an adult. As a child, well lets just say many of the old stumps looked like bears. I can blame my grandfather for collecting all the old hunting magazines that had "Man attacked by bear and survives stories." 

One other time I had the hair stand up experience like I mentioned in the story. It was a couple years after we moved up here full time. I was walking with my dog, Jack, who was fearless and by transference naturally made me feel the same. Suddenly, I felt like I was being watched, the kind of watched you feel when you think something wants to eat you. I had the uneasy feeling a mountain lion might be out there. Never saw it, nor did Jack, and I have never felt that way again. It is more common to have an animal pop up that you didn't sense or see and startle you, but fear leaves you fast when you see it is a grouse or some other animal that doesn't attack people.

People not used the woods get nervous when they can't use their cell phone or it is just too "quiet" for them. I get more nervous in a big city then walking in the woods alone. If any of you had a scary experience in the forest of Tioga or any forest email me I would love to hear about it. For now I am watching out for those trees making sure they don't decide to land on me instead of along side me. Mountain girl, Paula, logging out.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Three Children

Three Children
 When I was a child up here my grandmother told me I had a tree that was all mine. She said it started to grow about the same time I was born. She pointed to a small pine across the road in a group of three pines. She said, "It is the darnest thing not only did that one start when you were born, but the one next to it came up when your brother, Rob, was born and the last one came up when your brother, Ted, was born. I marveled at this as a child, but as an adult now living right across from the trees, I can't help think about her telling me this every time I see them. I am not sure why my last two siblings didn't get a tree. I guess getting five trees to grow in a row was asking a bit too much. It is a fun thing having your own tree and watching it grow. Somehow it doesn't seem to complain as much as I do about getting older.
A quick change in subject brings me to a few more fun things I didn't get in my last list of fun things. Some camps don't have water so when people get dirty they like to find ways to get clean comfortably.
Shower faucet
 One friend I have rigged up this way of having a nice warm shower. He got a big stainless steel cooking pot and drilled a hole in the bottom of it. Then he attached a water line to an on-demand 12 volt pump so he could work it off a battery system in his camp(he don't have regular electric either).
Heating the water

Switch for water
This runs to a faucet over a tub in his bathroom. The water is heated by a propane burner under the pot and when he wants a shower he switches on the switch and the pump pumps warm water through his system. He follows the wet, turn off, lather turn on, rinse turn off principles of a fast low usage shower. He says the water stays warm long after he turns the cooker off(which is outside). Not sure how consistent the temperature is between scald and freeze but he seems happy with it. Obviously this system won't work when the temperatures are below freezing outdoors since the unit he heats water with sits outside. I thought it was interesting and you all would enjoy seeing someone else's alternative shower method. Of course you can always jump in the stream if you can take the cold. Mountain girl, Paula, logging out.

Good times at Bear Mountain Camp

Sonnie and Wilma Eberly
Lee and I had a wonderful evening with Sonnie and Wilma Eberly at Bear Mountain Camp. Sweet corn, homemade biscuits, salad, potatoes, beets and more graced the table. Of course the most fun at a dinner party is always the conversation. Stories of the past struggles, triumphs and just plain funny stuff always makes for a good evening. I think a home cooked meal in a nice quiet cabin always brings out the good stories.
Sonnie told us he used to be an army cook and cooked for over 200 guys at a time. So when the job of camp cook for a mere 20 or so came up he hardly blinked. According to Wilma, Sonnie isn't only a good cook for men at war or in the woods, he has been her cook for a long time. And now that he is retired he has dinner waiting for her. Wow! All I can say Wilma is you are one lucky girl. Of course, I think she knows that. I always like seeing how couples that do well together learn quickly that a long relationship is about supporting each other by doing the things each of you do best to make life a lot easier. I hope today's generation takes something away from their example.
Much of the evening's conversations float around the animals we have seen in the woods and the stories of being stuck on the road in bad weather. It was a nice cool evening and we ended our stay with the Eberlys talking out on the porch. Time seems to fly quickly when you are having a good time and it was close to 10pm before we left. Thanks again for a good evening....the mountain girls, Paula and Lee Anne.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Fun Things

The Stone People
Bottom of berry picker
 I found a set of strange tracks working near a camp in Cedar run. It seems some sort of stone family was out for a walk. Unfortunately, it appears that each stone person must hop on only one foot. I am imagining this is a difficult task since stone people are so heavy.
On another note, while at Sigman's Camp Cedar Pines they told me about their huckleberry picker and  let me borrow it. But alas all my huckleberries are gone, just blackberries to pick not sure if it will work on them, but I will give it a try. It is an interesting concept. The picker has a shelf on it a little way back to keep the berries in after you pick them. I am guessing you have to turn it over to get the berries out. They did say you had to sort some leaves and not so ripe ones out and it has a bit of a learning curve. But for the most part they said it works well.
The last item is not milk as you might think, but it is sugar. Lee went through 80lbs of sugar this last month and in order to save money we bought 20lb bags from Sam's Club. The 20lb bags are hard to work out of so Lee dried out some old gallon milk jugs and funneled the sugar into them. She said it pours out nicely and makes her job easier.
The hummingbirds are eating at a fast pace growing and getting ready to go South in the next month. The bears have been curbed by the electric
Top of Berry picker
 fence and I have had no more incidents since putting it up. Well, that is not quite true. Lee got shocked when she was unplugging it. That answered the question is it really on? The weather has cooled the last couple days and it has been nice to sleep and nicer to walk and work. I hope we are done with the horribly hot weather this year. We got rain with several storms, but it has had little affect on the level of the streams. The rain is keeping the forest and lawns green and that is about all. Mountain girl, Paula, logging out.
Is it Milk?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Wind damage

Spruce Snapped by storm
We've had several  storms during the last week. They are isolated and some  had some intense winds. I never want to be driving through the forest when one of these wind storms pop up. There is little place to run to when all around you are trees and debris is flying through the air.
I generally stay out of pine and poplar tree areas when the wind gets much above 25 mph. These trees seem to loose branches easily and they are so tall it can be hard to see a top breaking off and falling toward you until it is down. The last trees to break off are Oaks it takes a pretty bad wind to knock one of these guys down.
 So I started thinking what would I do if I got caught driving or walking in the woods and a windstorm hit? If I was in the car and it wasn't too bad I would probably continue down the road cautiously and try to reach the house. If it got real bad I would look for an area that had less trees to fall and stop or best yet  get under one of the little bridges for shelter.

Walking is another story. If I was able to find shelter that would be great. If I was in middle of pines I would try to move out of them or find the biggest tree to stand near. If the tree falls and you are close to the base of it you can rotate around it away from
View from top of our hill
 or use the tree as a shield against other falling trees. After hearing about a lady in Genesse area being killed by a falling tree it does make you think. If any of you have suggestions I would love to hear them.
On the less dramatic side the third picture I took from the top of our hill. It is partly cloudy today with a chance of storms. To the left of this picture is where that mother bear and her cubs were eating raspberries.
The raspberries and huckleberries are gone. The blackberries are still coming on and are very delicious when you pick a nice ripe one. If you have to pull to hard to get them off, chances are
Blackberries ripening
they are not ripe. They turn a dark black color when you should test them. My dogs seem to like them as much as I do and of course so do the bears. I noticed many bear trails made next to the bushes as they push their way close to them to eat.The rain we have gotten from the storms has done little to the creek levels and they are still quite low so tubing is a lost cause. The woods for the most part is staying green and safe from fires so far. Have a great Leetonia day and stay away from falling trees. Mountain girl, Paula, logging off.