Fumie's Sphere

Insights into the worlds of winemaking and nature

Bush Roses November 4, 2017

Filed under: At The Winery,Nature — Thorpe Vineyard @ 12:05 am
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This has been a rough year for the bush roses around our Tasting Room. After the balmy winter and spring, the deceptive summer followed with lots of cool rainy days. Then when the flower buds grew large enough for the blossoms any day, deer ate most of them one night. I was outraged. Mildew from the prolonged excessive rain defoliated many of them despite my fungicide sprays. “I’ve never seen them this miserable,” I thought, dispirited all summer long from the obvious certainty that I would lose them after this season.

September seemed to have turned the things around. The sunny days and comfortably warm, occasionally very summery, temperatures were back to our region. The grapes wasted no time taking advantage of the nice weather – and so did the bush roses. By the time October arrived there were a number of new clean shoots developing, and eventually the flower buds were forming on the top of them. “If they won’t get frosted, they might survive.” I started to have some hope in my mind.

Brilliant October blossoms on the Bush Roses

Last weekend I had two young couples visiting our Tasting Room together. I learned that they were sisters and their husbands as they walked in and we started to chat. One moment I just glanced outside the picture window because something moved in my sight. One of the sisters was a little behind – she was smelling the roses that had just started to bloom a few days ago. “Beautiful!” She rushed in with a glowing smile and quickly joined our conversation. It was another mild sunny day for late October, and perhaps the best day we had for the bush roses this year.

 

Ospreys August 9, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — Thorpe Vineyard @ 11:26 pm
osprey

Osprey couple cozy in their nest on the top of the power pole.

Last summer I learned for the first time that there were two pairs of ospreys nesting on the top of a power pole in our neighborhood. They were several miles apart, but both along the country roads surrounded by the broad orchards. Then a fierce wind storm went by later in August that took one of the nests apart; that’s my neighbor told me. We weren’t sure if the baby bird was mature enough to fly away for safety. One day I had a chance to ride out and go by the power pole. Actually the pole was damaged during the storm so it was replaced with a brand new piece. I saw some debris of the nest on the ground of the orchards along the road, then the next moment I found one osprey standing on the top of the next pole. It took off from the pole and circled around when I went by. It was a somber scene.

Earlier this spring I heard that the ospreys were making their nests again at the same locations as last year. – They are back! I don’t know if they have the instinct to come back to the same spot every year, just like salmon go back to the same river they came from, but was delighted to hear the news. When I went out for my errands one day, I took extra time to drive around to confirm that they had returned to both locations, at least about the same spots as where they were last summer. The ospreys were seen sticking their heads out from both nests.

At the beginning of May there was a severe thunderstorm whipped through our area. Sure enough one of the nests, at the same location, was destroyed by the storm. I immediately recalled the feeling I had last year when I saw the pieces of their nest on the ground and an osprey still standing where the nest was. I didn’t want to face it again. Then there was an unexpected development this time — someone placed a shallow wooden crate (or box if you would) at the top of the power pole where their nest had been; obviously meant for them to rebuild their nest. There was even a short wooden pole attached to the crate, perhaps for the ospreys to perch. I got curious if they would come back. While I didn’t have time to get out myself to take a look, I heard that the ospreys were back in the crate. That would be interesting if true.

A week or two later I finally found a chance to go by there. I was anxious while driving through a curve just before I came away from the woods to the open orchards where I could see their spot. I was staring ahead to find it and nothing else; then suddenly a moving object trailing a dark strip appeared in the upper part of my sight. What is that? – It was one of the ospreys carrying a nest material, perhaps a cutting from the nearby orchards, to their new home under construction in the crate on the top of the power pole. Now the crate was getting into my view where I saw a head of an osprey looking out. Well, it looked like they were back.

While this summer has been so wet and often stormy, the osprey family seems to be doing well in their rebuilt home. I have seen more activities in recent weeks as I pass through there — often the ospreys are out of the nest and standing on the top of the power pole; sometimes on the different poles as they seem to feel like. I don’t know who set the crate and the pole for them, but can feel thankful to their kindness as well as to the utility company that has left them as they are. I suspect that the increased activities indicate the time for them to take off. Wishing them a great departure to their new lives, and a good luck to endure the next storm — and that I am sure they can do.
 

Bluebirds nesting in the Vineyard June 1, 2017

Filed under: At The Winery,Bluebirds,In the Vineyard,Nature — Thorpe Vineyard @ 2:48 pm
Bluebirds nesting in the Vineyard

Father Bluebird guarding the Box

On the way back from the vineyard work one afternoon I saw a pair of bluebirds hopping around one of the bluebird boxes at the end of the North Vineyard.  I knew they’d made a home out of it this year — the second time I can remember in the last over 20 years.  I had kept seeing them flying back and forth between the box and the woods; sometimes obviously protecting it from other birds trying to sneak into it.  I walked back to my house to drop my tools off on the porch while eyeing on the male bluebird perched on the vineyard post just above their sweet home.  I had my camera in my hand, and quietly started walking toward him.

Maybe around 70 feet I took the first shot.  Well, it was a little too far; his figure was just a small dot in the screen.  I went a little closer to take the next shot.  Hmmm, still a little far away.  The bluebird was, of course, watching me approaching to their box.  I went another 10 feet.  Maybe a little more.  — How close can I get?  I kept inching up while shooting him every so often.  Then one moment he finally took off.  He flew toward the other end of the vineyard, but swirled above the grape vines and landed on the top of another post in the middle of the vineyard.  We looked at each other for a moment, then I walked away to go back to my house.

 

 

 

 

Feeling like May… April 26, 2017

Filed under: At The Winery,Nature — Thorpe Vineyard @ 10:19 pm
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Sour cherries in the backyard are in bloom while honeysuckles’ leaves grow larger every day in this last week of April — it already feels like May. The grapes are nearing to bud break; perhaps any time for Maréchal Foch, always the first to turn green in my vineyards. After observing the grape buds with the watchful eyes, I see the flowers and the wind that trembles them, and the endless blue sky sparkling overhead.

 

 

 

 

Annular Solar Eclipse of May 1994 March 28, 2017

Filed under: Nature — Thorpe Vineyard @ 12:53 am
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Believe it or not, there was an annular solar eclipse visible from right here on May 10, 1994.  I was out of college a few years prior to it, and the construction of our current Tasting Room was nearing its completion. Our season used to start on Memorial Day weekend so it was still pretty quiet around here that time of the year, especially on weekdays. I was working in the wine cellar waiting for the totality of the eclipse. I had an access to a welder’s protective lens — a piece of very deeply tinted glass that was meant for being installed on a welder’s helmet to keep their vision safe from the sparks they would produce while working in their shop. It was dark enough to safely observe the sun as well. I walked in and out from the tank room to the driveway every so often while working on the wine to follow the progress of the eclipse with the piece of the glass in my hand.  When the totality arrived, I saw the thin ring of the sun through the lens and the shadows of myself on the gravel. A few days later I wrote the following for the memorable moment I was fortunate to have. Now another solar eclipse is coming this August, and I will of course use the same piece of the glass to observe the sun again.

 

annular_eclipse.pngAnnular Solar Eclipse

Beneath the sky
in the marvelous shine
the shadows are in layers
as they move.
At high noon
I look up at the phenomenon,
that, perhaps,
happens only once
in my lifetime here.

 

The First Day of Spring March 20, 2017

Filed under: Chimney Bluffs,Drift Ice,Nature,Sodus Bay — Thorpe Vineyard @ 1:11 pm
Sodus Bay 2 - Copy

Sodus Bay is still frozen from the snow storm last week. But the trees are carrying the well-swollen buds on their branches.

Chimney Bluffs 2 - Copy

A short stroll around the Chimney Bluffs. The inclined sun is shining through the treetops.

At the Bluffs 2 - Copy

The drift ice is on shore where the gentle breeze and the water are all what to be heard.

Though still chilly, it’s good to welcome the arrival of spring 2017.

 

Fox in the Yard Today February 28, 2017

Filed under: At The Winery,Nature — Thorpe Vineyard @ 3:03 pm
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Just looked out the front door, and guess what I found in my yard…

fox-3

 

Bluebirds’ Visit February 24, 2017

Filed under: At The Winery,Nature — Thorpe Vineyard @ 3:00 am
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bluebirds-on-the-vine

A pair of eastern bluebirds ready to investigate the cleaned bluebird box in the Vineyard.

bluebirds-at-the-box

Now he is looking into it — literally.

I thought I saw them in this balmy weather — that’s right.  I have to go and clean their homes.  So I walked out to the North Vineyard and removed the debris from last summer that was left in two bluebird boxes on my vineyard posts.  As it was such a nice day, I was brought out further into the Old and East Vineyards for a stroll.  Probably half an hour later I came back closer to the bluebird boxes.  I was slowly walking from vine to vine to see how they were doing.  Then one moment I happened to look up to find a pair of bluebirds checking on one of the newly cleaned boxes out there.  — Yes, it’s your home if you like.  They saw me and paused for a while, then started to fly away as I walked closer to them.  That’s OK; I will see you there this summer raising your kids again like a few years ago.  — I hope. 

 

 

Open the North Window March 24, 2016

Filed under: Nature — Thorpe Vineyard @ 3:56 pm
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I have my desk along the north wall of my house, and there is a window not too far from where I sit and work. I have a pair of thick curtains on all the windows in my house that I like to keep open during the day and close at sundown regardless the weather. However, when I quit using a wood-stove several years ago, I found out how drafty my house could get in winter — the massive heat of the wood-stove was covering up that fact. Naturally I started to keep the curtains closed when it was cold outside, especially the ones on the window on the north wall that was almost next to me. They didn’t quite stop all the chills, but were better than nothing. Consequently, I learned to keep this pair closed during the winter.

snowdrops

Snow Drops for you that usually fade before we open for the season…

Though it remained relatively mild this winter, I kept the curtains on the north window closed. When the balmy weather suddenly arrived a couple of weeks ago, I stood right next to this window one morning and thought about a moment, then pulled the string to open the curtains. The light rushed in and made the whole house brighter. I could see a few starlings perching in the red maple tree next door above the Winery Barn.

I instantly recalled the kigo, a word or term that must be included to describe a season in a Japanese haiku; “Open the North Window” (if it were English) is used to indicate the haiku is about spring. They used to (or maybe even now in some regions) close up any openings, windows and sometimes doors, on the north side of their houses to prevent the winter cold to sneak in. They often literally nailed some boards to close them tight. Once the spring arrived, they went out to remove the shields that kept them warm but dark during the winter. I thought I understood their joy to let the light come in again and the relief that the bitter winter was finally over.

The vernal equinox is behind us and the sun has started his trek north to the summer solstice. There is the period every summer when the setting sun over the Lake can be seen from this north window while I sit around. That’s what, of course, I’m looking forward to now.

 

 

Crescent Moon January 14, 2016

The first invasion of the polar vortex of the season to Northeast was taking place earlier this week. The frigid air mass travels over the open water of the Great Lakes causing the formation of significant lake effect snow bands. If you are on the leeward of this air flow, you’d be getting feet of snow in no time.

Many of you ask us how often we get buried in the deep snow after seeing our proximity to Lake Ontario while visiting our Tasting Room. The answer is “not much”; at least not as often as you might expect.

The heavy snow fall occurs most often when the air travels the longest fetch of the Lakes: longer the path, more moisture supply for the snow bands from the Lakes. Thus typically the heaviest lake effect snow episodes occur with the westerly airflow to the east of the Lakes. So for us here the lake effect snow becomes an issue when the wind direction changes more toward northwest.

This Monday the weather pattern was a textbook case of the heavy lake effect snow to the east of the Lakes behind a strong arctic cold front. I saw the Lake Ontario band over the Lake a little offshore from us with lots of whitecaps surging toward the shoreline. I turned back to the vineyards and saw the Lake Erie band above the horizon. In between there was sunshine all day long with a few stray clouds every now and then though it was windy and pretty cold.

crescentmoonAt the end of the day the thin Crescent Moon was above the Drumlin when I walked out to pick up the day. The sun was already behind the Drumlin and the western sky was bright in the evening glow from the horizon to the mid sky. The Moon appeared to have started to be laid back — when you see a crescent moon, it looks either standing up straight in fall or laid back in spring, or in the transition phases in between. In the piercing west winds in the middle of the lake effect snow bands I was confident to have found a sign of the coming spring.

 

 
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