I won’t pretend that it measures up to what inspired it, but this post was inspired by And More Ice at naturesnippets; Introduction to the Wonders of Nature, a blog that lives its name, by a southern Illinois nature lover (I’ll call her Deecee, taken from a hint in her profile) whose About page humbly describes someone who lives her love and shares it as a living testament to nature’s love for us.

Whiteface Mountain Veterans Memorial Highway Toll House in winter snow storm.  The highway beyond the toll is closed in the winter.
(Click for the BIG view.)


Deecee’s And More Ice instantly reminded me of this old ice picture (below) from April 2005, shot at a little beaver pond near the Toll House on the Whiteface Mountain Veterans Memorial Highway in Wilmington, NY.  Before Balsamea, I lived a few miles downhill from this pond for five years.  Lucky me.

Ice 01 200504 Whtfc Toll Reflection

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Wind Slayer – Scribblement 20130223

20130223.  A nice date brought to you by 0, 1, 2 and 3.
Congratulations to all of today’s newborns.

WARNING:  This blog is for my entertainment more than yours, including the parts that you contribute.  Apparent indications to the contrary should be viewed another way.

NOTICE:  You are reading the blog of
The Conqueror of the West-Northwest Wind.

colorful weather map

I enjoy clearing snow, but not when it is solely to remove drifts, without the benefits of fresh, significant snowfall.  In this context, the Balsamea Dictionary 8th Edition defines “significant” as at least four inches of snow within twelve hours, preferably at least once per week from Pearl Harbor Day to Saint Patrick’s Day.

Lately we’ve had more snow accumulation by drifting than falling.  It is an annoying pattern where one or two inches of snowfall gives you up to a foot of drifted accumulation in all the wrong places, and it keeps happening for a stretch of contiguous days, including days when there is no snowFALL, just snowBLOW.

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Winter Views Part B

No comment from me.  Aren’t you glad?

Click anywhere for carousel mode … better views and full captions.

Winter Wonderland

I shot these pictures today, 12/25/2012.  I have better winter pictures from February 2012, coming soon to a blog scribblement near you, but today I wanted to share pictures taken today.

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This has nothing to do with Christmas, but boy-oh-boy if you are into Christmas, in my part of the world the sky and the snow are performing just as Bing Crosby dreamed for on Christmas.

"Yo!  Tannenbaum!" German Tanne (fir) + Baum (tree).

“Yo! Tannenbaum!” German Tanne (fir) + Baum (tree).

For our nightly walk this most celebrated day of the year, in a brisk thirteen degrees (no problem when walking briskly, unless into a stiff headwind, then you have nose issues, but we were in dense forest cover with NO wind tonight) we had the “perfect storm” of combined crystal-clear sky, moon nearing full, and Jupiter parked a finger’s width from the moon, yet blazing its strong light right through the moon’s white-out drowning of all other stars near it.  I wondered what could be so bright?  Is there a kid being born by autogenesis in a manger somewhere?  Should I pack up some balsam incense and head east?

Since Rudolph’s nose isn’t white, and the light was not moving, I decided to check with StarDate, who told me it was a special presentation of Jupiter.  Just the gods playing around in the sky, as ever.  Orion was swashing his buckle just below the moon, also standing out against that moon-washed sky of few visible stars.

The timing was great, too.  The moon was not far from apex just when we set out for the walk, around 8:10 PM.  That makes the light pierce down through the trees with less shadow and more light hitting the snow.

We have a complete snow cover that developed slowly over a period of three days, totaling about four inches accumulation.  With temperatures staying low, the snow is staying put, and still sticking in billows to not only the balsam fir boughs, but to the upper surfaces of many maple and beech tree branches that don’t get hit by a lot of wind and/or sun.  I love the way it puts a white lining on the branches that are otherwise just sticks all winter (unless glazed in ice).

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Way – Scribblement 20121222

Saturday, December 22, 2012.  The second day of winter.  I meant to write something yesterday, to celebrate winter solstice, but I exhausted myself out in the woods being The Balsamean, celebrating for real, not just on paper.  Er … I mean, in pixels.  (That’s trite, isn’t it?)

If ever I lose the ability to walk in the woods as much as I do, maybe I would use the time to write a book (about what, I have no idea).  Unfortunately, most of my best inspiration arises while walking in the woods, the flow of creativity juices increasing proportionate to the time spent walking.  No walking, no writing.

Here on the second day of Winter 2012-13, finally we have some genuine winter weather.  On our morning walk, we had a beautiful 25 degrees and steadily falling snow, adding to the half-melted and re-frozen crunch-bed of snow underfoot.

Viewed from the window in front of me as I scribble, the snow is not falling so much as driven horizontally by strong winds roaring in from the west.  Deep in the woods, where the wind lives mainly in the treetops, the snow floated peacefully down to me during our morning walk.  (By the way, proper making of scribblements at Balsamea is with a window in front of you, if not outdoors.)

This morning, in addition to meandering through some passes and paths, Buddy took me on our usual walk around Balsamea’s perimeter trails.  He tends to want to go clockwise, beginning on Balsamea Way, to the west terminus of Stumpy Way, then Stumpy to the northeast half of Kiefer Loop, then across the east side of Beech Loop, around the southeast corner of Birdsong Loop, and back to the house via Whitetail Way.  Today we also ambled through part of Aranyaka Maze.  We walked about half of the entire trail network.

I cleaned yesterday’s crusty, icy accumulation off all the fireplace and woodpile covers.  This is a routine activity on every walk after snow.  We have large rock fireplaces (that’s large fireplaces made with large rocks) at five locations: Camp Balsamea, Turkeyfoot, Tettegouche, Silviden and Kieferhaven.  This year I made permanent covers for the fireplaces, to keep snow and ice out of them (I use all of them year-round).

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A Word About Scribblement

Journaling in the camper at Balsamea

For decades I called the dictionary my favorite book, until Wiktionary, which I now adore as much.  Just the same, I’m keeping my 1995 Webster’s Collegiate 10th Ed. and my 1962 Roget’s Thesaurus 3rd Ed.  I may need a word when the lights are out, or when the satellite web connection goes away at a critical moment, or when unregulated hypergobalcapitalizm (masquerading as democracy) gets lethal immunodeficiency, and the web collapses.

You may have noticed the tagline on this blog, Scribblements from Balsamea.  I started using scribblement in 2008 to describe a two-year-long series of many hand-written long letters, accompanied by many photographs, usually with captions written on the backs — on the originals and six copies — and lovingly mailed to a handful of victims.  I called these scribblements The Balsamea Letters.    .

In my mind, they were like scribbling because they had little purpose or value but to satisfy my need to write them.  They also freely rambled, because I gave them permission.  Still, they were more than scribbling, firmer, meant to last.  The -ment suffix fit nicely, a baggy firmament.

That period, May 2008 – June 2010, was my Thoreauvian period: living off-the-grid, no electricity, no running water, no phone, no pool, one 70-pound pet.  I suppose that this unusual lifestyle choice, being largely the cause of the letters, could give the letters more meaning than if I wrote them from a walk-up flat in the burbs, on a computer, with C-SPAN on the tube and a frozen pizza in the oven.  I could offer such meaning as a justification for the -ment suffix.

I had a cell phone, thanks to the car charger adapter.  Three times or more per day during my forest saunters (Thoreau liked that word) I reached those positions where AT&T could hear me at a strength of one or two bars.  Those signal hot spots were about 1,500 feet from home base.  On those three occasions every day, I checked for voice mail messages, except when I forgot to bring the phone.

Otherwise, as I did when returning calls to three people with whom the conversations typically ran long, I drove the car four miles for a good signal.  At $0.40 to $0.50 per mile, that adds substantially to the cost of a phone call, especially when it’s 12 or 85 Fahrenheit and you leave the car running for A/C or heat while gabbing.  (According to Consumer Reports, the total cost of ownership, operation, and maintenance of my car over five years is $0.44/mile.  It is a subcompact, tiny, and gets 34-40 miles per gallon.)

After having used scribblement, thinking myself clever for coming up with it on my own, I pulled out the Webster’s just to make sure I had invented something.  (You didn’t think I would go two years in the woods without a dictionary, did you?)  Page 1050.  Scribal, scribble, scribbler, scribe … no scribblement!  Yay!  Then, I flattened my bubble under the authoritative weight of the public library’s giant dictionary.  Scribblement was a word in the Webster’s of 1913.  Its definition was, and is “a scribble.”  Authorities say the word is dated, but not archaic or obsolete.

English: Portrait by Benjamin D. Maxham (dague...

Thoreau portrait, 1856 daguerreotype by Benjamin D. Maxham

Original title page of Walden featuring a pict...

Original title page of Walden featuring a picture drawn by Thoreau’s sister Sophia

If a scribblement is a scribble, you may ask, why not just call the letters scribbles?  Scribblers scribble scribbles, don’t they?  Well, what do you call a 20-page scribble on two sides of loose-leaf paper, photocopied half a dozen times, the original stored in a loose-leaf binder, placed with annotated photos into 9×11 envelopes, and mailed to people in Wisconsin, New York and Connecticut?  Add to those long letters nine volumes (Marble-type composition books) of personal journals, or writing yoga, done partly from feeling obligated because Thoreau got a book out of his stunt and he didn’t even stay through the winters at Walden — or so I’ve heard.

THAT is making scribblements, not scribbles.

This blog is an outgrowth, or continuation (with changes, such as an audience) of those scribblements, and I’d feel silly calling it Scribbles from Balsamea.

1906 painting by Carl Larsson, “Model Writing Postcards.” Some people really know how to do their scribbling: on the job, between modeling assignments, in costume. Click for better view.

But why “scribble” instead of “write?”  Isn’t it writing?

Oh, puh-leeze!  Writement?  Not even I would invent a dopey word like that (not to imply you’re a dope if you asked the question).  And it would imply that I think myself a writer.  If I am, it is probably not a good idea to pat myself on the back for it.

Isn’t “scribble,” with or without “-ment,” diminutive, even self-derogatory?  Seriously (if that is possible in this post), I can explain farther, but it would take too long, and double your boredom.  So I’ll leave you there.