Thursday, January 24, 2013

In The Quiet

by Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 1998. All rights reserved.

Coming home after a trip to the city, I look forward to the warmth of my loved ones, the comfort of familiar faces, and the joys of country living: open space, good neighbors, unpaved land. But what I often crave most is the sound of this place, or rather the lack of sound. The silence. The quiet. The peace.

Here on the porch, I hear the drip of meltwater in the drainspout, the chirp of juncos at the bird feeder, the sound of a pickup truck on a far‑off section road, and the occasional bellowing of a cow or barking of a dog.

Days and nights in the city reverberate with alarms and whistles and recorded noises of all kinds, from disembodied voices to loud syncopated beats. The hum is nearly constant, like being at the seashore next to a continuously pounding surf. The waves roll in, one after another, day after day, until your body starts to expect them and your ears stop hearing them and you wouldn't be able to sleep nights if they were taken away.

Continued at... In The Quiet

Michael Hofferber
Rural Delivery
Artwork: Quiet Settles In by Doug Ealley

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Incidents in a Small Town

by Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 1998. All rights reserved.

Living in a small town, you share a sense of common destiny with your neighbors. When tragedy strikes, the whole community trembles.

Our town has been shaken twice in recent weeks. The police chief, a popular and respected man with a young family, died in a freak highway accident when a delivery truck swerved into his lane and hit him head-on with its load.

Barely two weeks later a single mother and her four small children were murdered in their home and a local sharecropper, known to be a friend of theirs, was found dead in his pickup from a gunshot wound to his head. Investigators suspect a murder-suicide, but they are still trying to find a motive.

Continued at... Incidents in a Small Town

Rural Delivery
Artwork: White Water In a Small Town by Dwight Baird

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Dark of Winter

by Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 2006. All rights reserved.

In the dark days that follow the winter solstice, the last of December through the middle of January, I anxiously track the growth of daylight for reassurance that the tide has indeed turned and that winter will eventually give way to the brightening of early spring.

At this latitude of approximately 45 degrees, daylight grows ever so slowly at first, just a minute more each day until the middle of January, when it starts to grow by twos and then by threes at the month's end.

What I always find curious, and faintly disturbing, is that the day does not grow evenly. The sun sets a minute later each day for the week following the solstice, but it rises the same time day after day.

How could this be? If the earth rotates at a constant speed and tilts at an angle to the sun that's roughly the same at dawn as at sunset shouldn't the amount of daylight grow evenly, the same half-minute at sunrise as at dusk?

Continued at... Dark of Winter.

Michael Hofferber
Rural Delivery
Out There
The Nature Pages
Artwork: Winter Awakening

Thursday, January 3, 2013

A Change in the Weather

by Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 1993. All rights reserved.

There's been a change in the weather on the Camas Prairie this winter and Emma Bennett has proof. After six consecutive years of drought, the parched grain fields of Camas County lie beneath welcome layers of snow, the likes of which haven't been seen since the 1950s.

"This is the most snow I've seen since I've been reading the weather, which will be 21 years in October," said Bennett, the 75-year-old proprietor of the Hill City Store and postmaster for the tiny Hill City Post Office.

Only about two dozen residents collect their mail at Bennett's post office, but many are likely to stop in and ask about the weather. "How much rain yesterday? How cold was it last night?"

Everyone knows Bennett can be relied upon for those facts. As an official weather observer for the National Weather Service, she records the highs and lows and precipitation amounts for the Camas Prairie daily. And every afternoon she gets a call from KMVT-TV in Twin Falls asking for the weather data that shows up under Fairfield on the station's nightly newscasts.

Continued at... A Change in the Weather.

Rural Delivery
Out There
The Nature Pages
Artwork: Prairie Dog Pokes Through Heavy Snow