Henry Homeyer

Commentator

Henry Homeyer is an author, columnist and a blogger at the dailyUV.com.

In order to better understand why our roads turn to soup about now, here’s a short Mud Season 101.

As we approach the shortest day of the year I look forward to an annual solstice party held by friends. They gather scrap wood and old pallets to prepare for a serious bonfire. Then they invite friends from near and far to join together, share a meal and imbibe some good cheer. My friends also provide paper and pens to write down any accumulated resentments, anger and frustrations that we then toss into the roaring fire and rejoice in a fresh start.

I’ll have to admit I was as shocked as anyone at the outcome of this election. I’m an aging liberal who voted straight socialist in my first election. At the time I was teaching in Jersey City at Public School #22, and the year was 1968. I was fed up with politics as usual, party machines and I wanted change! And now that I think about it, maybe if I’d come of age this year, I would have turned to Trump after Bernie got beaten – but I rather doubt it.

Life is full of uncertainty, but I refuse to limit my activities just because there’s the possibility of danger. After all, I could get hit by a car driven by a texting teen while I’m walking to the post office. Or I could simply fall down a set of stairs and end up like Humpty Dumpty. So I’m not about to deny myself the joys and learning experiences of travel – especially to France – one of my favorite places to visit.

Ten or fifteen years ago I planted three willows on the other side of my small brook. They’re a variety called Hakuru-Nashiki. They only grow to be about fifteen feet tall and wide, and have leaves with pink, white and green in the early summer. Mine grew together into one huge clump.

Homeyer: Clean Water

Jan 27, 2016

We Americans take clean, abundant water as a birthright, and nearly everywhere it is. But this isn’t the case in some parts of the world.

I’d just arrived at my local tree farm to cut a Christmas tree, when I noticed a picture-book family approaching: Mom, Dad, three cute kids and a freshly cut tree.

I was off gallivanting this year from mid-September till mid-October. I’d done my best to clean up my gardens before I left, knowing that we often have snow by mid-October. Truth be known, I didn’t do a very good job. But this year it really didn’t matter. Two months after my return the ground is still not frozen, and I continue to cut back flowers, pull weeds and harvest carrots, radishes and kale.

Despite the stretch of warm days we’ve had this fall, winter’s just around the corner. And even though I love skiing and snowshoeing, I dread the short days and frequent lack of sunshine. Cold, gray days with mixed precipitation make being outdoors less than inviting.

Homeyer: Heat

Jul 31, 2015

So here I am, on one of the warmest days of the year, stacking wood. But I started early, before the real heat of the day kicked in.

Homeyer: Ugly Fruit

Jun 9, 2015

My vegetable garden is largely planted, and my mouth waters when I think about eating fresh tomatoes hot from the sun, or the carrots I’ll eat outdoors after just a cursory spray from the hose.

Homeyer: Gray Days

Dec 13, 2014

December has all too many gray days. Days when the sun doesn’t shine, or makes only a token appearance. I like sunny days, or even snowy days. But not gray and drizzly days. I do my best to combat gloominess in a number of ways.

Spring is here and I’m thinking about my garden and life beginning anew outdoors. But I also lost a friend recently so I’m not only thinking about new beginnings, I’ve also been thinking about the past. I recognize that with the passing of each friend or relative, I lose a rich source of memory to supplement my own. What I think of as our “collective memory” is diminished each time someone passes, so I try all the harder to refresh and remember shared experiences – and to keep in touch with distant friends.

As we plowed our way into April this year, it seemed like everyone I met at the grocery store – whether a millennial or an octogenarian - was saying essentially the same thing: “Wow. This winter was like the ones we had when I was a kid - with amazing snow and cold.” And I was perfectly happy to have it so, largely because I enjoy skiing, but also because I believe it will reduce the number of pests in the garden this summer.

It occurred to me recently, as I was contemplating what to serve on Thanksgiving Day, that there was no refrigeration back in the days of the pilgrims. There were no 18-wheelers bring carrots from California or frozen turkeys from Texas. Although I have freezers and refrigerators, I may do things more like the Pilgrims than the average American. And it’s easy.

I love a good country fair. The two I know best are the Cornish Fair, which is this weekend, and the Tunbridge World’s Fair which happens the second weekend in September.

This has been a fabulous year for flowering trees. For me the spring started with a deciduous rhododendron called ‘Cornell Pink’, the first of my blooming trees and shrubs. It looks like an azalea with delicate blossoms that stand out against its leafless grey stems.

When I was just a little sprout I learned this ditty: Spring has sprung, the grass has riz, I wonder where the flowers is? Well my grass is still dormant, but the sap is rising and I have hundreds of snowdrops blooming on a south-facing slope. Spring is here.

With spring comes a desire to get my hands dirty and to start planting. It's still way too early to do anything outside - the ground is still mostly frozen, after all - but planting seeds indoors satisfies my urge to garden.

(Host) Commentator Henry Homeyer is a gardening writer and educator who is going to consider the environment and other factors this week when he chooses cut flowers for his loved one, and ignore tradition.

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