Dunga Brook Diary

The rural life through the lens of an iPhone and notes from the field…

Country Life, 3.1.17


Country Life

These are the ghosts of the wild tomatoes that (each summer) rise from the loam and take over my yard. The pig jaw is from my neighbor’s carcass pile. Out here, that’s a thing. 

The picnic table they rest on is a nice pallet that the very same neighbor let me take home in the back of my truck. The pallet picnic table is held up by two junk-store sawhorses that cost me less than 5 bucks. I live in an old farmhouse (gussied up in navy blue and a red metal roof) made cozy upon my arrival by a top to bottom renovation. 

Yes, Virginia, house-poor is definitely a thing. 

LA was my base for over 20 years before this- I miss my friends and my salary and my hairdresser, but not much else.

Besides, this middle of nowhere life gives the most unusual gifts- bones and broken china and musket balls that rise from the muddy hills at the first thaw, a laboriously slow Spring that gives birth to furious pink peony blooms, a too brief Summer that passes in a swoon of greens and swirling blue skies, Falls that arrive with a riot of ripe vegetables and trees all gussied up in crimson and golds, and the winters… those old man winters…with bony white charm and eyes full of menace…one minute gifting lovely snow flakes and the next, slapping with ice…but mostly he’s toothless and doddering and by March, April, May, he’s well overlong with his stay. 

I’ve met lot of nice friends out here, all artists and poets and musicians, all outliers. 

When I first arrived, I dated the two-horse town lawyer (a most respectable gent) and followed him up with a crazy young crazy lover who came but almost didn’t went. 

I’m good now, I’m good, I’m good, I repeat with the wind as it howls down the tired old hills to knock at my windows like a ghost who’s not sure if they’ve been missed. 

I’m good now, I’m good, I’m good, I repeat while he huffs and he puffs but he can’t blow this old house down…anchored as it is with a lovely stone foundation from the 1820’s and a lot of dollars from heaven.

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Real Witches See Possibility

I stood before the old cabin with a stone in one hand and the wind in the other. In winter the trees on this land shiver to bareness and the old structures become visible once more. With so much op…

Source: Real Witches See Possibility

Bella Anabella

She’s five, today. She loves cats, dogs, sweets…oh how she loves sweets.

A Pink to the Atmosphere

Winter arrives…the temperatures drop, winds begin to howl, there’s a pink to the atmosphere, heralding, perhaps, a coming storm. I’m ready for a wall of snow. I’ve been waiting for the winter of all winter’s ever since I moved to the Northeast. Five years, I’ve been waiting. I’d be lying if I said that I haven’t enjoyed these mild winters, but something deep inside cries for a tempest. 

Winter. Happy happy. Joy joy. 

  It’s Monday. 

A blustery blustery Monday. A blustery January Morning and all I want to do is sit on this leather couch underneath a Pendelton Indian blanket and sip my maple creamed coffee and stare at the Christmas tree. Yes, it’s still up. And listen to the wind. It comes and goes, gale force then a rumbling sort of silence. A faraway sound like the ocean when you’re inland about a mile.

I grew up on the ocean in Florida. I know the sound of gale force winds, of the ocean rumbling far away. This small house in the middle of nowhere, perched in a valley surrounded by fallow fields, this place is my island in a vast ocean of snowy sound. 

Henry, the rooster, crows. Not so much a cock-a-doodle doo but something more visceral, commanding and desperate at the same time. Irritated yet hopeful. Forlorn yet energized. It’s more like Er-er-er-Errrr. 

Bella is not here, she’s with her mom. Chevy’s asleep, curled tight for warmth. 

Bella’s dad is wrapped in a wall of blankets upstairs. He’s not a morning guy. 

We’ve been together for awhile now, three winters to be exact. He looked at me last night over the table of a tony Utica restaurant and said, I never thought we’d be together three years later. It’s true. We weren’t meant to last a weekend. But here we are, together in the middle of nowhere, winter’s claws tightening around us.

  He of the unlined face, the rebel outlook, the jalopy car, the beautiful daughter not yet five years old. How does he connect with me…LA woman, world traveller, rural greenhorn, dreamer, artist, mother of a man closer to his age than not? 

It’s a mystery. We let it be a mystery. 

Like the weather. 

Yesterday it rained, there was an epic rainbow.  Spring sang her siren’s song, we knew better to believe her but still…

 This then is frozen Monday. The wind howls, the cock crows and I’m staring at the giant Christmas tree in the den that absolutely must come down. 

Oh, but what a beauty she was.

  

The Mr. Henry And Mrs. Valentine enjoying a stroll. This is central New York, enjoying El Niño.

imageThis is an unusual winter day, in central New York…wet and windy after a night and morning of torrid rain. We continue this winter’s pattern of unusually mild weather with spikes of freeze.

The rainbow was a nice surprise, Henry and Valentine sauntering beneath it, too.

Ah, winter in central New York…

Just over five years ago (after too many years in LA), I moved to central New York to renovate an 1820’s farmhouse that I had bought sight unseen off of a Facebook post.

Central New York. The beauty of the area, the seasons, the open spaces…brought me to my knees. Literally. It was what made of me an Iphonographer.

It was as if, so far into the middle of nowhere, I could see again.

That first winter was mild and wet, too. I wondered where the fabled heavy snows and ice storms of the NE had gone.

I remain grateful for the reprieve…as do Henry and Valentine. Their endless foraging continues unhampered by pesky ice and snow. Miller (not pictured) continues to lay eggs.

And I continue to take photos with my iPhone, unable still to use it as an actual phone..in the middle of nowhere.

Henry. Portrait of an American Rooster.

 It’s almost a year since I last visited my own website. I know I’m not the only one whose done this and it’s certainly not my first time. I’m hard pressed to make an excuse for my absence. It’s not like anyone noticed, either. Which has nothing to do with anything. Yet it does. Doesn’t it…?

I yearn for something which is why I create. It’s the engine that moves my photography. It’s why I post a photo a day on Instagram. The feedback is what I need, I guess. And while I’m not the most popular IG’r by any means, I have a core of followers and a fraction of thise followers give me what I am looking for…likes (I see your work) and comments (I acknowledge your work). My work moves some. It delights some. It inspires others. And that’s exactly what I’m aiming for each time I edit the crap out of a photo until it speaks to me. I want it to speak to you. Same with Facebook. I’ve got a lot of friends there and my goal is to delight them, daily.

This is is a portrait of Henry, my rooster. From the time he was a fluffy yellow chick to his preening magnificence of young cockhood, he’s been a daily delight. Last spring my boyfriend brought home three chicks. When chickens are babies you can’t determine their sex, at least I couldn’t…from years of obsessing over animals I know that as soon as I become a chicken master I’ll be able to…but in the beginning a ball of fluff us a ball of fluff…so all I could do was hope that one of my fluffs would be a rooster. So, from desire to actuation (new word!) sprang Henry, the American Rooster. Henry morphed from chick to this in a fairly short period of time and, of course, his evolution has been photographed.

Add Henry to my list of muses out here in the glorious middle of nowhere that is central New York.

More to come.

Perhaps I’ll go back in time and fill the missing months in with photos and musings on what the heck happened between last February and now…if I dare.

XO, V

Last day of February. Winter in full freeze. Words to live by for Northern climes.

Winter is hard, my dears. Waiting is agony. Until you apprehend the story. The beauty of spring and summer in the northern climes depends on time ticking ever so slowly. Soon enough, the first bud, the first bee, the first peeper in the thawing pond. If not for these endless days we’d lose our wonder at what is coming…You know what is coming…how spring sashays and summer swaggers…even now, in the stillness, you know it well. XO, V

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Shoulders, a poem by Naomi Shihab Nye

Shoulders

A man crosses the street in rain,
stepping gently, looking two times north and south,
because his son is asleep on his shoulder.

No car must splash him.
No car drive too near to his shadow.

This man carries the world’s most sensitive cargo
but he’s not marked.
Nowhere does his jacket say FRAGILE,
HANDLE WITH CARE.

His ear fills up with breathing.
He hears the hum of a boy’s dream
deep inside him.

We’re not going to be able
to live in this world
if we’re not willing to do what he’s doing
with one another.

The road will only be wide.
The rain will never stop falling.

A June Peony in April

A June Peony in April

April

My peonies sleep
curled into their red roots
frozen with the ground.

I walk with what is left of winter
and discover a tiny animal, wet and black,
bereft of possibility.

It’s too close to spring to die.

William says
we need a month of sunny days
before we dig and plant.

This morning,
a hale storm threw
a million tiny pearls
onto tawny fields
that disappeared
as soon as they landed.

We wait.
We wait.
We wait.

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