Dunga Brook Diary

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

Archive for snow

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. 

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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.

  

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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Wednesday scene from (one dreams) the last snow of the season…

Wednesday scene from (one dreams) the last snow of the season...

I love old barns, each one a snowflake and their elegant dissolve, slow motion as it is, is a thing of beauty to behold.

Tuesday’s Signs

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You know it must be February when a vole leaves a love note in the snow that your heart understands.

A little Steinbeck and a click of Dunga Brook last February

Dunga Brook, Feb 2012

“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.”
~John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America

County Highway 19 and a tiny slap of Bukowski…plus Dunga Brook Diary in which I confess my Dream of being an iphone Ansel Adams…

County Highway 19

County Highway 19

“I loved you like a man loves a woman he never touches, only writes to, keeps little photographs of.” ~Charles Bukowski, Love is a Dog from Hell

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Dunga Brook Diary, looking back, spring/summer 2011…

I bought a farmhouse that I found on Facebook.

I bought a farmhouse that  I found on Facebook named Dunga Brook, the original homestead of  a 2,000 acre dairy farm built in the 1820’s.

I bought a farmhouse with an acre of land, in a place I had never heard of,  for $10,000, because of a post on Facebook.

Why did I do this? Because , because, because, because, because…

Because, I was on Facebook. Because back then I had that much money in the bank. Because I was without ties, because I was over my career in fashion, because I had a number one and only son who was going off to college in August, because if I didn’t do something drastic I would lose my mind when he left, because I had 25 years in LA under my belt (because 25 of those years had been spent wishing I was somewhere small town USA else), because, basically, I had to.

I wrote a poem once with the line, “the tragic leap is the only dance-step I know…”. Melodramatic, yes, but what I meant was, I don’t do things in half-measures. All in or all out.

My moves aren’t predicated on logic, wisdom, reality, time and space continuums, obligations, duty, society…when the voice inside my head says, “its time,” I dance.

So, when Tim Giblin, a man I  barely new from an LA poetry class, posted a picture of a farmhouse on Facebook somewhere in New York on an April morning in 2011, I bought it.

Dunga Brook was for sale by owner and Tim, who lived next door, wanted someone he knew to be his new neighbor.

Turns out, you want to like your neighbors in the middle of nowhere.

I don’t think I was what he had in mind but if he was disappointed, he never let on.

That summer, my son and I had to live in a campground while Dunga Brook was being renovated. God knows we couldn’t live in her, she had been torn down by the elements (rain, snow, rain, snow, wind, rain, snow) and had been sorely mistreated by the last tenants who were, literally, squatters.

The squatters had destroyed a few of the things that the elements hadn’t yet (like the stairs to the second floor and the electrical panel in the stone basement) as a good ole country FU and goodbye.

Seems, the owner of the house had called the squatter’s closest relative, an uncle who once rented the house, and told him to deliver this message…”get out or we’ll burn the house down with you in it.” They did get out.

The KOA campground was the only place left for long-term rental that summer. I had no idea when I bought Dunga Brook that she was in the middle of the Cooperstown Dreams Park baseball summer mania.

Turns out that this little nowhere land turns into baseball central all summer long- there are baseball parks, baseball memorabilia shops, The Baseball Museum, baseball Hall of Famers are inducted out here, and the families of all the little baseballers from all over the world rent every little home and hotel room there is to be found while they pursue their mini major league Dreams in that Park.

So, into the last  rental camper trailer at the KOA we went. Which thrilled my soon to be off to college son, Connor, to no end. His Dream had always been to live in a trailer.

That trailer magically led to a reconnection to my Dream. I practically grew up in a camper. My dad dragged us to every campground in the state of Florida and up the coast to Maine in back when I was a child. Camping is in my bones, my heart and my soul.

What camping meant to a shy little girl was hours and hours of roam time, commune time, Dream time with all the little creatures and plants and water bodies of the earth.

And here I was, iphone in hand, lucid dreaming in a land of such staggering beauty that I couldn’t understand what the big deal was with all that migration west . Who could leave this place?

Thanks to that migration, CNY – as compared to LA – was essentially empty, save the baseballers and their families crowded into Cooperstown Dreams Park.

Suddenly, I understood what I was meant to do with that iPhone in my hand. Take pictures. Take a million bazillion gazillion pictures of my Dream. Lay down in the grass with my face in the dirt and breathe. Look up to the sky at the clouds marching by and breathe. click. click. click.

Suffice it to say,  I took over 20,000 iPhone pictures that summer while I waited for that house to be rebuilt and not one human besides my son and my shadow got in the way of a sunset, a sunrise, a crystal clear lake, a wild flower, a you name it.

By fall, I had carpal tunnel. Turns out you can’t just take 20,000 iPhone pictures, edit them and upload them to Facebook, regale everyone with the beauty you have found, the Dream you have landed in the middle of, without paying a price.

I would lie in bed at night, my right arm in the air and cry, it hurt so bad. I googled iPhone and carpal tunnel and ah ha, yes, of course.

Luckily for me, there are a lot of great people up here, that is the yummy  little secret of this place.

Yes, it is in the middle of nowhere, NYC is 4 hours away, Boston, the same, the nearest Starbucks is 90 miles away (this is how a LA person views the world)…but the people who live up here are amazing, educated, brilliant, fun, artistic, earthy, gorgeous, adventurous, and exactly what I wasn’t expecting to find.

Somehow, between taking a picture of everything that did and didn’t move, I met all of them.

My carpal tunnel was cured by one of the best massage therapists I have ever met who also, to my great delight, somehow ended here. Cheryl Rosen of The Spring House Spa in Sharon Springs saved my life. Well, my arm. And a lot of sleepless nights.

This April, 6th, 2013, I have a *photography show at the Cherry Branch Gallery, two years from the day that Tim Giblin posted a picture of a little broken farmhouse named Dunga Brook on Facebook.

*Vicki Whicker shoots all her photos with an iPhone, edits them in iphoto and pic monkey and Dreams of being an iPhone Ansel Adams.

https://www.facebook.com/cherrybranchgallery?fref=ts

https://www.facebook.com/SpringHouseSpa?fref=ts

https://www.facebook.com/cooperstown.koa?fref=ts

https://www.facebook.com/search/web/?q=cooperstown%20dreams%20park&form=FBKBFA&wssk=FR0AS0&wssp=1&wspq=Cooerstown&wssrc=2&wssc=6-10&wsbp=6-1&fref=ts

 

 

Chevy seen through a link and a tiny bit of Thoreau…

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“One must maintain a little bittle of summer, even in the middle of winter.”
― Henry David Thoreau

 

Last winter we lived on a farm in Fly Creek that had 20 of the most beautiful rolling acres I have ever lived on.

The property was owned by an artist and all through the fields and trails he had set up whimsical finds…

Broken mirrors (the thick vintage kind) in which you could catch a glimpse of the sky and tree branches and your own smile, a lovely wood and rope swing, the wood and rope so thick it was guaranteed to last decades, this chain, vintage glass bottles, all found objects just waiting to be found, again.

Each morning walk with the dogs was a discovery, if nature wasn’t enough there was art .

This land belonged to a certain man with art in his soul.

I could tell it was a labor of the heart, very personal, not meant for wider audiences, a conversation between a man and the universe.

XO, V

Monday night, February 18, 2013, let the waxing gibbous moon be your guide…

Monday night, February 18, 2013, let the waxing gibbous moon be your guide...

So, its about 11 degrees out, snow on the ground, and I come home late from the art studio and, since they’ve been in the house for hours, I let the dogs out.

Chevy disappears into the night.

I call and call and call. Time passes, I wait for his scratch at the door. Now I want to go to bed. I try again but despite the cold, he isn’t coming back.

About a half an hour ago, he let me know with a distant bark that he was at Tim’s barn. An acre or so away. The ancient barn I take pictures of incessantly. That big, dark behemoth of a barn that scares me just looking at it.

The temperture is dropping. I put on my boots, coat, hat, gloves and grab the flashlight and walk into the dark. I love this dog. There isn’t any other way about it.

As I cross the field, I hear the crunch of snow beneath my boots, a billion stars twinkle in the sky, in the distance a dog barking urgently, not Chevy, probably coyote hunters.

The moon is bright, the snow is blue. I stand beside the silohs and the moon streams between them, I wish I had a camera, I don’t even have my iphone, it is insanely beautiful. Insanely cold.

I think about the time I was caught outside, alone, in a typhoon on a late Hong Kong night, morning really, and how I almost died from hypothermia (I embellish), my clothes were heavy with the tropical rain that came down in solid sheets when the wind wasn’t whipping it sideways. I was lost, a bit drunk from a typhoon party in a bar I’d walked out of an hour before..walked right into rain so solid that I lost sight of the other patrons and since then I’d seen no other living thing. Lightning was jagging the sky and illuminated a dead cat floating down the sidewalk, now a river around my feet…I was in mortal danger. But it was just so beautiful.

Tim and Margo (the barn’s owners and my only neighbors) are on a long trip, there is no one here in the night but me. Careful, I think, don’t fall down, there will be no one by. Until spring.

The silohs are black giants. Looking up at them and the moon, I don’t feel so alone.

Finally, I hear the sound of a dog galloping across the crunchy snow- it’s Chevy, full of burs and bursting with the joy of having such an adventure to share in the night with me.

I scold him half-heartedly.

We head home by the light of the moon.

In LA, whenever it rained we had reporters on every corner. Out here, it snows. And you can’t find a soul or a corner anywhere.

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