Archive for the ‘The Seasons’ Category

I’ve always been amazed by hops. 

First, even though they’re a climbing plant, technically they’re not vines, but bines as they have a squarish, prickly stem.

Second, their claim to fame comes not from some gorgeous blossom, but from an elegant, paper leafed cone, or rather, from what that cone conceals. For when you break open a hop cone, deep within, packed along the center stem are miniscule, golden glowing orbs.


This is the oil whose fragrance and taste you recognize in hoppy beers, or hop pillows, or aromatherapy mixtures.

While picking, some of it comes out of the cone and give my fingers a ‘cheetos’ look and a wonderful, relaxing yet exhilarating, almost pine-like fragrance.

I’m sure the uninformed observer looks on wrinkling her brow as this man, dressed in fleece and baseball cap stands against Fall’s winds, raises his hand to his face and seemingly smell his fingers!(?) 

I inhale deeply and smile with wonder…


Posted via email from The Cave Wall


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Heaven’s waters fall
Petals play, droplets dancing
Kisses from the sky


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Brown, black, blue, gold, white
Winter’s limited palette
Medley of Wonder

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Actually this is me, skating on the rink before Plishka’s Law of Conservation of Snow* kicked in to the tune of 14 inches.

I make a couple of these a year.  This is the first one from this year. 

The Ice…
A Stick…
A Puck…
It doesn’t get much better in the winter…
*This states that removal of snow from an ice surface results in the arrival of snow to cover the ice (It’s like washing your car and then it rains)


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A couple years back I was shoveling my driveway and it dawned on me that I wasn’t ‘grooming the track’,  like when I was younger- carefully shoveling so that I could preserve a sloped track perfect for sledding. 

I was, in fact, shoveling a driveway so that cars could use it.  It stunned me in sadness for a moment…

I take great joy in shoveling a portion of the lake bordering my backyard.  It’s grooming an ice surface that I will recreate on.  It’s not meant for cars- it’s meant for fun. 

With an impending snow and ice storm I knew I had to shovel the lake today if I wanted good ice when the temps dropped.  A neighbor had shoveled a very small rink (10’x10′) so I was feeling a little more confident in spite of the fact that open water was 75 ft away.  I pounded the ice with the back end of heavy wooden snow shovel and slowly walked out.  No cracking noises.  Seemed firm.  I began shoveling.

As I shoveled I noticed huge wide cracks in one place–good sign–thin ice doesn’t crack like that.  What caught my eyes next were the footprints in the snow.

Coyote Prints on the Snow (michael plishka, 2008)

Coyote Prints on the Snow (michael plishka, 2008)

It was interesting that every other set of prints left a scuff mark in the snow, as if the coyote was dragging one foot slightly.  I kept digging and noticed foot prints under the snow, melted into the ice. 

Like an archaeologist I swept away the covering snow revealing the tracks below.

Coyote Tracks Frozen in Slush (michael plishka, 2008)

Coyote Tracks Frozen in Slush (michael plishka, 2008)

 I found two different trails, probably made on different days.  All trails, the fresh one on top and the frozen ones below, all led to the open water.  This explains why, even with open water, there were no longer any waterfowl on the lake.

As there is no cover for the bird along the ice, a coyote could, with favorable winds, (and winds from the north which is what we’ve been getting) sneak up on sleeping waterfowl. 

How this guy ended up gimpy and not totally lifting one foot, we may never know.  I do know that before I skate, others have “skated” before me…

My 69x61 ft rink three quarters done. Notice water/ice edge that footprints led to.

My 69x61 ft rink three quarters done. Notice water/ice edge that footprints led to.

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One Swan Haiku

Half the lake open
The winds keep it from freezing. 
One Swan in Winter

See and download the full gallery on posterous

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Braving 35F Water

I usually don’t take the pier out until after
Thanksgiving but this year is different.  The heavy handed cold snap that
we’ve been experiencing has started the ice formation on the
lake.    The 15 day forecast is not showing that warmth will
appear any time until perhaps March of 2009.  For this reason I decided it
was time to take the pier out.


Last year, my rubber waders had a leak that flooded one leg of my pants
with 38F water.  It was not pleasant. I ended up pouring hot water down my
pant leg to keep from freezing and restore feeling in that leg.
At this time the water is just a tad above 32F.  Only the winds have
kept the lake from freezing. Smaller lakes in the area have been frozen for more
than a week.  The pier is supposed to be able to be taken out of the water
without climbing into the water.  It’s not really possible without some
serious winching and cables – and that’s out of the question. 


Each section of the pier is like a drawbridge so someone
(me) needs to jump in, push the pier part way out of the water and, after
locking the pier in place part way out of the water with an 8ft long wood
curtain rod, climb out of the water, pull the pier like a drawbridge with 
a rope and hook all the way up and then lift it out. That’s it!


To prevent any serious bouts of hypothermia or frozen limbs, here was my

This entire grouping was worn under the waders.  The upper half of my
body was protected by a polyester top covered with a fleece lined windbreaker
(that I dogsledded with some years back). That’s it.  Since I was doing
some physical work, I literally felt no coldness at all until
I finished the job, and even then, it was merely a pleasant coolness.


This is me almost chest deep in the lake where the pier used to be and the
ice behind me. It’s already a quarter inch think or more in some places.



Special thanks to my loving wife Debbie who helped out and didn’t
heckle me in spite of the fact I was climbing into freezing water.


That spot of the lake looks bare without the pier…but the swans and geese
are taking advantage of any and all open water that’s

Posted by email from The Cave Wall (posterous)

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November Rose

November Rose

November Rose


Why of all times did you choose now?

When winter’s knuckles frost the door with every knock?

Was it vanity – the need for all eyes to gaze upon you and no other?

I find it hard to believe, especially with your brother-

of course not as far along but on schedule to arrive still later on the scene


There are no others…

long ago have they left you on your own,

“We wish you well!” they chimed as petals fell


To risk, to brave

to be beauty when all else is gray

to battle

to reach your prime

without warmth

without sun

with cold rains drenching your feet

winds that snap your head back and leave you bobbing

a fighter receiving rapid fire punches

and still standing…


A slight fragrance

last night’s sleet robbed you of essence

no bees to delight in your blossom

yet you choose to share

to be light

so I may delight

in your mystery…

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In honor of the change of seasons here is Seven Sisters. 

Listen and Download this tune

Sunlit sliver in an aqua sky
Greek God planet shines into my eye
High above immersed in char-blue sea
Seven sisters looking down on me
Frosted breath beneath a mercury light
Twists and curls
Disappears from sight
On wings of angels
From the skies above
Bring me whispers from the one I love
Wind wisped flurries swirl around my feet
Gold Fall leaves dancing
across the street
Through barren branches strain my eyes to see
Seven sisters looking over me
Frosted breath beneath a neon light
Twists and curls
Disappears from sight
On wings of angels
to the skies above
Take these kisses to the one I love
Flying through the dark
to Southern skies
Wing to wing beneath the stars
they cry
Fly my soul
to the love you seek
While seven sisters looking down on me
Frosted breath beneath a neon light
Twists and curls
Disappears from sight
On wings of angels
to the skies above
Take these kisses to the one I love
Frosted breath beneath a mercury light
Twists and curls
Disappears from sight
On wings of angels
to the skies above
Take these kisses to the one I love

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 I’m not sure exactly when it happened. It was like walking back into a symphony after intermission and the orchestra was gone, the musicians had left and no one was around to tell me the concert had finished.


But there were no instruments save the wind that snapped my jacket open. I wrapped the jacket around myself and held it closed with crossed arms…still listening for the harmonies of crickets and katydids.




An owl’s rhythmic “who…who, whoo” played on wind’s wings so it almost was imperceptible. Above, a faint blue smudge on black sky – the Andromeda Galaxy.


There was no flickering of lights during the intermission, no nudges to return to the performance. Spring and Summer Symphony had left the stage for Fall’s soliloquy – a lonesome phantom unaccompanied by insect voices.


I stood hoping that perhaps I could hear one last voice, one lone, brave soul in this windy tempest – no one.


Cheated, slighted.


No, hurried and harried – I missed hearing the last note. Five months loom before new insect voices will audition to exploding greenery. How could I?


I went back inside and took my jacket off and looked in the mirror. I noticed a gray hair on my scalp. It was as long as the others and had apparently been there growing right alongside the brown. I missed its journey as well. Perhaps for the better; I may have truncated its life had I seen it earlier.


That which I wanted I missed, and that which I missed I no longer wanted…

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