Today I continued to get my bearings on my project and spent more time at an orchard, taking pictures, listening. Today: The orchard. Rob has been pruning the apple trees for 10 years; he is assigned 2,500 of them and is paid by the tree. Three others, including the owner, are assigned the other 3,500. Rob says he makes about 1,000 cuts per tree and each takes from 10-20 minutes. He looks at the tree, walks around it and sets to work. Here is one tree in 7 seconds:

I was lucky to have as a friend and mentor Sarah Blanding: the- first woman dean at University of Kentucky, first woman dean at Columbia University, first woman president of Vassar College. I took care of her gardens. Often, at lunchtime, she would invite me onto her porch to eat, read and sometime talk. She didn't judge; she listened. Her observations, her responses, were direct, spot-on and given with respect. geoffreygevalt.com/portraits-e Thanks, Sarah.

Yesterday, January 64, 2019 on the official Vermont calendar, we had what is common for this time of year, a snow squall. They come out of nowhere and often pack a wallop and yesterday was no different. It also brought a wicked drop in temperature. Camera in hand, I got a quick shot of the storm heading our way across Lake Champlain and then a street lamp with some sort of special bulb. But by the time I got to my destination, I could not bend my fingers. That cold.

Sometimes the only way to get through winter up in northern Vermont is to wander out into a field, light a bonfire and drink some rye from a flask. So on Saturday, officially January 61, 2019, we enjoyed a fire of old trees in the middle of an 80-acre field with 20 bundled friends and, as an extra, snow. Oh yah. Walking back, the warm glow of embers at our backs, stories and laughter in our hearts, it was a nice feeling as we braced for another 48 days of January.

As Instagram becomes InstaFace, mastodon and pixelfed.social/ become more important, but the question remains whether either will become "active" enough to provide users with the connection & interaction to make it worthwhile. I embrace the smallness of both platforms, but I often feel like I'm posting in a vacuum, a long ways off from the Web in the 1990s when long, reciprocal conversations would spontaneously erupt. Maybe we should stop using the star and instead, comment. Peace.

I have begun to ready myself to slow down time: Sugaring -- what we call making maple syrup. It is a glacial occupation because you can't make a boiling liquid boil faster. And since it takes from 32-40 gallons of sap (depending on its sugar content) to make a gallon of syrup, you boil for a long, long time. But you see things. Like owls. And I'm glad my pal, a Bard, (pictured below) is back to join our ritual once again.

I will write more as the season gets underway.

Today I had lunch with a friend, a writer, teacher, innovator. She has helped me take chances -- to go with ideas that I knew to be good. In return, I read her stories and tell her what I think; honestly; specifically. She writes a short story a month. With my critique of her, with my work at Young Writers Project, and in journalism it has been about reaching audience. I told her I didn't care anymore. Audience was of no matter. I am doing it for the enjoyment. And I feel freed.

Want to give a shoutout to a fellow mastodoner and small pedagogy fan ... @lauraritchie ( @katebowles @tdorey @ShorterPearson @dogtrax @cogdog ) Check out Laura's brilliant cello performance of Debussy Concerto (if you're impatient, slide to 4:20 for beginning of music). This is 13 minutes of bliss. archive.org/details/DebussySon

Today, February 19, I celebrate the birthday of my uncle, Frank Glazer, a world-class pianist still performing just weeks before his death in 2015 at 99. His persistence, consistent hard work & deep appreciation of others inspired me & my family, particularly my oldest, also a performing musician. It's important to mark such occasions & keep our ancestors in our hearts. More here: geoffreygevalt.com The photo: Frank performing with aunt Ruth, a soprano & love of his life in 1960.

Last night, I received an email from an Instagram follower, someone I did not know personally, who said she went to my website, read my stories & essays and was deeply moved. In her letter, she summarized her own stories/experiences stirred by reading my posts.A high honor; warmed my heart. A reminder of the initial lure/power of the Web (1990's) to help creatives & the potential of

Let us resume meaningful & specific commenting & read each others' sites.

Dawn is clear and cold, but quickly gives way to clouds, then snow, then heavy snow. A good day to be beside the fire, at least to have coffee and read. Something catches the corner of my eye, brown-yellowish motion. I look out the window. Oh, hello there. Perched on the back deck, a few feet from the window, a bard owl, a neighbor, stares, first at me through the window, then, head pivoting, looking for the foolish mole or squirrel or mouse that dares to venture out on this day.

I find the U.S. political/cultural turmoil too much sometimes: the instant backlash to, well, whatever; viral videos, viral vitriol, viral ... aarrgghh Over the last few days, with temps fluttering between 10 and -11 F and new snowfall of 20+ inches, I have taken solace in skiing & snowshoeing in the woods. This morning, awoken by an unsettling dream, I took to the forest & at the crest of a ridge was given a spectacular reminder of the power of nature to bring balance and peace.

It is 1971, I am snowshoeing in the woods near a neighbor, Wilts Stevens. It is -14F. Wilts is 92 & has lived on the farm all his life. Suddenly, we see him ahead on the trail, looking at us, leaning on his walking stick, waiting. He smiles. We say hello. He nods in silence, surveying the trees. Turning his walking stick in the snow making it squeak, he says: "'Spect this stick will squeak for another two days, & then it'll warm up.'" We walk on.
(More: geoffreygevalt.com/portraits-e)

My final big project for https://youngwritersproject was to develop a magazine-style presentation for selected best work in order to stop using a web-based 3rd party platform that was clunky, time-consuming to use & out of our database. And what if they folded? So, with help from a coder from Russia, we did it. (Please go experience.)

I asked him if we could acknowledge him, “No, no,” he said. “They think I’m hacker. I’d rather stay hidden in the shadows of the trees.”

A year ago Christmas, my oldest daughter, a musician (& more), gave me this for a present: "A project together." We've yet to do it.

We near an idea: Go to the bayous for Mardi Gras, away from the maddening drunks, in the heart of it all. We record sounds. We shoot pictures. We eat, laugh & listen to stories & music. Maybe she joins in. Maybe I tell stories.

Our main purpose: To start a story just by doing. With no idea of what we may do with what we capture. It will come to us.

Thanks to @lauraritchie and @clhendricksbc @clhendricksbc for the info. I think I will split my brain yet again and keep both accounts in different Mastodon instances, here & @writing.exchange ... I may repost a fair amount from instance to instance. I feel a need to try to help build a writing community, a place where people can exchange ideas and help, though 500 characters is a handicap for us writerly (cough, cough, verbose) types.

Mastodon queries. I created an account on @writing.exchange in hopes that that instance connects me to more people engaged in the writing profession, thus more opportunity for feedback on specific work. Managing two accounts seems crazy; HOWEVER, I am unsure what happens if I redirect this account to the one there. Do I lose the follows/followers? Do I lose the toots & replies? Do you no longer see me? Are my toots only posted there or are they also posted here? Anyone out there with knowledge?

The darkness before dawn always seems more dark, quiet than any other time. Today is no different. As I sit here, in my study, and gaze out the sliding glass doors to the woods beyond, I discover that this silence is brought on by snow, falling gently, without wind, the animals curled up, the world still asleep, the only sound, if magnified so that you could hear, would be the sound of each flake settling down, lightly, atop its mates. What is the sound that no sound makes?

In Vermont, when the holidays are over and the reality of the 109 days of January sets in, two friends have a winter party.

We guests are to bring skates and, if we wish, food to share, beverages, a dead Christmas tree and a match.

So we skate. And eat. And haul our trees to the field, near the pond, and build a tower. Then we light it. You can imagine what the fire looks like, it's height and firefly sparks; here is what it looks like when you look away from the fire.

@katebowles the oddest thing, Kate: I saw your pics here pixelfed.social/p/kbowles/2878 and whoa! holy mackerel! I happened upon the same junkyard and saw the same nookshelves, BUT, but ... I apparently came before you did because in your shots, the contents I saw seem to have been claimed ....

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