~sweet gum, Liquidambar styraciflua L.~
It was cool this morning, with the outdoor temperature right around the freezing mark - and the temperature inside the Airstream at 48.9F. I still don't turn any source of heat on at night - and honestly, it's not too bad. I like it being cold at night as long as there are lots of blankets (reminds me of my graduate school days in Michigan when I lived in a large, 10-room farmhouse) and of course a Pointer 'blanket' doesn't hurt either. Plus, the place heats up quickly - it's warming up as I type this (it's now 60.6F). If anything, it's just a reminder of the season - and recently I read something about how as a society, we often try to 'mask' the seasons, and to buffer ourselves from the changes.
(Now we all know that I'm just trying to convince myself here that it is a GOOD thing that it is under 50 degrees in the Airstream when I wake up in the morning, so please humor me).
"Some of us…are darkness lovers. We tuck ourselves up in the long sleep and comfort of cold’s opposite, warming ourselves by the thought of the cold, lighting ourselves by darkness’s idea."
(Okay, I live in coastal South Carolina. It's absurd of me to shout 'embrace winter!' from this geographic location...my apologies).
Returning to the Airstream after my holiday in Virginia was a bit challenging...my bedroom in my Father's Earlysville home is almost twice the size as the Airstream's 216 sq. ft. It hadn't bothered me before, but during my return this time, I was a bit overwhelmed by the size of the place. I'm better already - I think the key is to get everything put away, and quickly!
Did you know that the Sweet Gum 'gumballs' contain shikimic acid, a compound used as the main antiviral agent in a drug used to combat bird (and other) flu viruses? I didn't. Interesting, don't you think? Actually, it's used in something you're most likely familiar with these days: Tamiflu®.
I like sweet gums. Most folks don't like them - the gumballs annoy them when they drop on the ground - but I think the trees always look as if they're decorated for the holidays this time of year. Plus, their fall color is nice. What is there not to like?
My Father and his live-in healthcare person had asked me for a Christmas 'wishlist', and one thing I include was a book, any book, by Henry Mitchell. So on Christmas morning I received from my Dad a copy of One Man's Garden by Henry Mitchell. Little did I know until this morning that he spent some time at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville (and based on the years, I was in Charlottesville at the same time - perhaps we once ran into each other at the grocery store, or gas station? Isn't that a nice thought!). Last night I started reading One Man's Garden - and all I can say is that one paragraph into the book and I was a fan. A huge fan. He is hilarious, smart - delightful.
Why did it take me so long to read him? I've no idea, but what a treat to read him now.
Of course, all of the above is procrastination: I've got manuscripts to review, drafts of manuscripts to edit, two grants due soon, a job application due before the New Year, much, much to do! I'd better get started. (Plus, it's now 65.1F in the Airstream, and I can take my heavy sweater off).