Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Nature's Circles

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

It's a quiet night here on the mountain. The outside temperature has been holding at 30.9° for a couple hours but now the wind is beginning to come up, first at 2 mph and now at 4-6 mph. There is a light mist flying around, enough so that Karl the Wonder Dog decided to return to the house quickly in hopes of securing some warm sort of mealtime leftover to compensate for his wet hair. A nanosecond after entering the back door he began shaking to rid himself of excess water and he continued despite my protestations which included several unfavorable words. Tonight's weather report for early morning hours includes other unfavorable words such as "freezing rain", "black ice" and "slick conditions after 4:30 AM". I guess winter is heading this way in the next week.

I got going early yesterday morning with a full slate of projects and high enthusiasm. I was doing fine until I headed down Route 15 into Hardwick and as I touched the brake, all sorts of alarms went off in my Chevy truck, blinking lights and repetitive sounds that would have been annoying if they had not told me to take immediate action. One of the brake lines had burst at a point where it came in contact with the engine block as over time road salt and water had cut into the elbow. As I pumped the brake coming down the hill, I had emptied the brake fluid reservoir and things were not looking good for my landing at the bottom of the hill. No dragging my feet to stop this truck!

Someone was on my side and I slo-o-o-owly enter Hays Mobil and came to a stop. The smell of brake fluid was as obvious as the fact that I needed a mechanic in a town where I was friendless. I entered the garage and half begged for assistance as the manager said he'd look at the schedule and see if they could help me. I secretly glanced at my watch, not wanting the man to see me looking. The time was exactly 9:55. He labored over the schedule book like a tired flight controller at O'Hare and then replied with great seriousness, "Yes we can fit you in at 10." (5 minutes away!!) Well it wasn't ten, it was 10:35 but I didn't care as just seeing the truck enter the service bay was sufficient to make me smile. "Want to come in where it's warm?" he asked. "No, I'll just walk up town and look around." I replied. "Need a ride?" he asked. I declined the offer as the walk was barely a city block from one end to the other and I knew I would have at least a couple hours worth of time to kill.

I've been to Hardwick a lot but it's mostly been "through Hardwick". Yes, I have eaten at Claire's Restaurant and bought various things at the Buffalo Mountain Coop and held deer rifles I couldn't afford at Riteway Sports. Recently I even attended the second annual readings by some super fine local ag writers but really, I didn't know much of Hardwick.

Walking at street level is different than riding in a pick up and for the first time ever I noticed the suspension walking bridge that goes from Main Street across the river to The Flower Basket. The bridge caught my eye and despite a slippery, packed snow covering, I decided to walk across. Halfway across I stopped short as if I had seen my first ever crop circle. There in the river below me was a perfectly cut piece of ice probably measuring 10, maybe 12 feet in diameter floating in the river and spinning in a circle. I couldn't believe it. I wanted to run back to Main Street and direct people on down to see it but I didn't know if this was a rarity or something everyone but me had seen before.

Circles in nature are interesting and this siting made me think a book must exist that documents what I saw. As I watched the piece of ice spin, I gave up on the "find the book" idea and thought for a minute about other circles I had seen in nature--concretions.

The year we began work on the new nursery was the year I learned what concretions were. It all began at the end of a work day when Mark, a part time fence builder spotted what he thought we nickels on the freshly bulldozed ground where the office was planned. Within a couple days my pockets were full of concretions and baggies of them had piled up on my home dresser. Although some big ones measuring over 3 feet in diameter have been found, nothing I found was bigger than a few inches.


If you have ever been to Button Bay State Park down Panton/Ferrisburg way on Lake Champlain, you might have seen buttons at the lake's edge. They have been well picked over the years but like the round, spinning ice, they are always attention getters. Some concretions are odd shaped and I always felt they should be copied in silver or gold by a good Vermont jeweler as earrings or pendants ...or ...buttons.






There are many circles in nature and they are all interesting. If you have a minute make a list and share it. A circle closes a straight line but in nature, circles stimulate our attention. How did that piece of ice form in the river in Hardwick?


Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where my back up dog walker reports that the air is thick, humidity maxed, as bad weather approaches. Use care out there tonight. Stay safe!!


George Africa
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Winter approaches but we will still help you grow your green thumb!!

1 comment:

Laurel said...

Banded agates always catch my eye. I'm guessing that the ice circles you found were caused by the water in that spot not totally freezing as quickly as the rest of the water, possibly from a underground fed spring.