Tag Archives: Bubo

The Return

Oh, oddlings. Where do I start?

I’ll start in April, when Bubo and I decided to hike up the mountain and see what exactly this mud season Vermonters talk of is all about. Chilly and damp, the day was perfect for an explore. I packed my satchel with essentials (journal, vole jerky for Bubo, ginger candies for myself, the hammock sack, and Great Uncle O. Underhill’s book of poetry), strapped on my exploring gear (a hand-crafted combination of spelunking and mid-century lumberjack gear), and off we went.

After nearly half a day, I decided it was time for a rest. The forests positively bloom here in the Green Mountains and I was overwhelmed by the growth coming through after such a magical winter. Having spent so many springs in New York, one gets a bit underwhelmed by the majesty of the season. But out here in the wilderness, it’s breathtaking. We found a delightful tree – strong limbs and boughs for my hammock sack and for Bubo to nestle into – and up we went. My hammock sack is an invention of mine – imagine a combination hammock, tent, and cocoon. Perfect for resting in a tree, above a swamp, or on board an old sloop winding its way down an ancient river. Nestled quite comfortably with new green buds sprouting and a chill air whispering, I began to read Great Uncle O. Underhill’s poems aloud.

This, it seems, is where I made my mistake.

I had no idea that Underhill had been dabbling in natural magic, and that his poems were part art and part incantation. Clearly I could have prepared myself better had I known. I could have prepared all of us.

Instead, I read some delightful poems about trees and mountain energy and I remember nothing else until a few days ago when I awoke completely refreshed in a forest I did not recognize. Partly because the forest has grown and blossomed so transformatively that it seems like a different forest all together. And partly because the tree in which I was so delightfully ensconced seems to have moved to the other side of the mountain. Bubo and I spent about a day getting our bearings and shaking off the moss that covered us. (There is one leaf that seems to be growing from just below my elbow and I’m keeping it to study.)

It took us a good three days to make it back over the mountain and back to the house. Which is in a shambles.

Oh, my dears. What a strange few months it’s been. The house was left open (I am guessing from my relatives appearing for the usual Summer Solstice celebration and not bothering to clean up or close the doors) and mud, rain, and wind have pummeled the building. Not to mention what I can only assume was a band of drunken fisher cats, judging from the damage to the drawing room and the decimation of the laboratory and herborium. I have much work to do. I also have a wealth of questions for my Cousin Cate, our family witchcraft expert, and just as soon as she returns from her trip to the Southeastern United States, I will be able to ask her about the poems Underhill wrote. I am wary to even crack the book again.

So that is my explanation for my absence. I apologize for my prolonged silence, though, clearly, who could have foreseen this? (Aside from Underhill, who is still missing.)

And I shall be busy rebuilding this house, repairing these rooms, and re-filling them with marvelous finds.

Thank you for your notes (there is nothing like a pile of mail from friends upon one’s return, no matter how odd the trip) and rest assured, I shall not be reading any more of Underhill’s journals aloud.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, there appears to be a black bear in my garden and Bubo insists I repair her turret first so that she can refurbish her nest to her liking. You’d think she’d lend me a bit of slack – I don’t see a family of hummingbirds using her beard as a nest.



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April Fool’s Day

The origins of this day of pranks are largely unknown. Some theorize that this ersatz holiday evolved from the change to the Gregorian Calendar. Some postulate that the day sprang forth from a collective case of Spring Fever.

It doesn’t matter how it came to be, I’ve never been a fan.

Unfortunately, it seems, this house quite enjoys April Fool’s Day. It has been perpetrating pranks all morning. First, the hallway floor kept tilting ever-so-slightly so that walking from my bedroom to my study was quite a feat of balance. The fire keeps spontaneously sparking and then snuffing itself, and whilst my bacon was cooking on the stove, the cook range decided to turn itself into an enormous metal turnip.

The only person enjoying these escapades is, naturally, my brother Mordecai, who turned up late last night in the midst of rain and wind. Mordecai is quite the merry prankster and each year manages to plot elaborate pranks. I fear that a combined pranking team of Mordecai and this house will extract the limits of my patience.

Bubo, of course, has even less patience for pranks than I do. She left quite early this morning and can only assume she’s halfway up the mountain, napping quietly and undisturbed in a tree. I’m jealous, naturally.

Happy First Day of April, my friends.

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Lady Bug Bender

Imagine my surprise:

The lady bug bonanza that has taken over the house (they are, apparently, quite the pest in this neck of the woods) is not entirely natural. While most folks here deal with an influx of lady bugs each year, my lady bug issue is above and beyond the norm. The little gals have been erratically buzzing at odd hours of the night and seem to gather in large clumps around the coffee maker in the mornings.

The answer to my specific lady bug behavior? Bubo has been giving them absinthe!

When questioned, Bubo shrugged with a disinterested “pfft” and returned to her knitting.

This, of course, also explains the sudden disappearance of all of my sugar cubes. Absinthe-drinking lady bugs. Of course.

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This morning’s hike up the mountain was glorious. Yesterday’s rain still dripped from the branches and the ground sucked at my boots as I trudged towards the summit. The ground heaved and shuddered, and it occurred to me that perhaps the notes in Uncle O. Underhill’s journals regarding the mountain were not experiments in metaphor. Perhaps this mountain truly is a living organism, and Underhill built his house on a remarkably craggy part of this creature. Perhaps a knee-cap, or an eyebrow.

Bubo loves our life here; while I have my moments of nostalgia for Brooklyn and our city home, my intrepid companion has fully embraced life in the country. Her feathers are more lustrous and she has quit cursing. (She has not given up her penchant for Schlock Horror Films. I was awoken from my nap with the tell-tale screeches of The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms.) Our morning constitutionals continue – whether we be city dwellers or country dwellers – and this morning held the promise of newness. Perhaps it was the coming of spring. Perhaps it was the enormous mug of coffee I begin each morning with. Whatever it was, I inhaled the scent of wet leaves deeply as I rested against a splintered oak and felt invigorated. Bubo soared majestically before dropping down for some late hunting. (Methinks her love of our new country life involves the fresh variety of snacks just outside our doorstep.)

What with my morning walk (before the sun came out and before the snow showered), I’m sure you can guess what today’s word is.

Umbrageous is an adjective meaning affording or forming shade; shady. Also: not easily perceived, as if from being darkened or shaded. So, you could say that the forest was filled with umbrageous trees and that my brother Mordecai lives an umbrageous life. The word can also mean easily offended; apt to take offense.

Umbrageous stems from the French ombrageux, which is from the Old French umbrageus, which, in turn, is from umbre for shade. All this from the Latin umbra.

Can you see the word umbrage in all of these? Another way to say that you take offense is that you take umbrage. Umbrage is a feeling of pique or resentment. It is also shade.

Now, pray do not take umbrage should I be silent for a few days. It appears in all my mucking about I aggravated my cough, and I am laid up with some version of a flu. I have taken to my chair in front of the fire, with a hot toddy and my plushest slippers.




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