Cognitive Dissonance


Elevation changes the way the sun and atmosphere interact. In the visible spectrum, colors and contrast appear to be especially clear and sharp, at least to this set of eyes. It is one of the joys I experience living at 3,000 feet. Not so high that it causes shortness of breath, but high enough so humidity levels in general are lower and the air is clearer.

The last few days up here on the mountain have been a joy to behold. Very low humidity, clear skies and temps in the mid 70's are a dream come true. Two evenings ago I decided to partake of the front porch rocking chair and enjoy the setting sun and scenery. It was spectacular.

Anyone who has followed me for a few years knows I enjoy the interplay of light and shadow. It is one of the reasons the fall and winter months are so special to me, particularly up here on the mountain where the low humidity and elevation seem to energize the contrast.

While the spring and summer seasons have their own special magic, there are less days where it all comes together to produce the dazzling contrast I love so much. The other day, especially the evening, was one of those glorious days.

The front porch faces west, into the setting sun. Some days it can be  brutally hot and the porch is abandoned for the back deck, which is shadowed by the house. But not two days ago.

Mrs Cog and I take great pride in how our place looks. We are situated at the very end of a dead end dirt road, meaning we have nearly zero vehicle traffic passing our place. So the care we invest in our home and grounds is strictly for our pleasure and no one else. While we are gratified when the occasional visitor remarks on the beauty of our place, we do what we do for entirely selfish reasons. The key is to stay on top of it, otherwise it becomes a maintenance nightmare.

To be fair, much of the initial and difficult landscaping work was done by the previous owner. But the place is now more than twenty years old, so much repair and replacement is needed. This is not a bad thing for it is our golden opportunity, and excuse, to sculpt the place to our desire and project at a time.

The view from the front porch (picture at the top) is of the circular gravel driveway and the 'D" shaped grassy area it contains. We have made many changes here over the last five years, though it is still dominated by the ornamental Bradford Pear trees. I expect Mother Nature will take them down over the next few years. Bradford Pear trees are very brittle and tend to break in wind and snow/ice around this age.


Seated in the same rocking chair, the image above is looking north to northwest and shows the hanging swing Mrs. Cog refinished last year. The large 'green' spruce to the left is now nearly twenty years old and was once a living room Christmas tree that was planted the following spring. Beyond that spruce and the wind break of evergreens is the 1/4 acre fenced garden.


From that same rocking chair, you are now looking left (above) or more accurately south - southwest. Just peaking over the railing in the back ground in this coming winter's heat source, about 4.5 cord of hardwood which is seasoning up nicely. There is another 4.5 cord out of sight, but also getting ready to keep the Cog's toasty come November.

To the right is the Blue Spruce, another of the prior owners living room Christmas trees planted the following spring. That is a true blue color you see, mostly of this years new growth busting a move.

Both large spruces are getting mighty tall and I have some concern about their roots. Under a thin layer of top soil is hard compacted Virginia clay. Both spruces wisely avoid the clay, so the large, and growing, roots tend to expand horizontally and upward. The roots are now breaking through the top soil and are exposed to air.

Each year I now bring in some new soil to recover the roots, then plant some grass. I'm not concerned the tree will die, but that my lawn mower cutting deck continues to hit an immovable object aka the roots. I'm also worried the roots will begin to push against the foundation of the house. Any suggestions by my dear readers will be much appreciated.


Looking a little left (south) of due west, above you can see one of our vehicles peaking out from behind the Blue Spruce. This is the gravel parking area I installed four years ago to park our jalopies when not in use. This was done at Mrs Cog's insistence because parked vehicles in the circular driveway ruined our gorgeous view. While I initially protested, after the fact I had to admit she was correct. Mrs Cog has taught me that if given the choice between ordinary and pretty, always go pretty.


I include the above picture because Tramp, our beloved 10+ year old Maine Coon cat, insisted I post his picture on our blog. Considering the consequences of ignoring his demand would be deposits of live animals on, or in, our bed at 3 am, I quickly agreed to his demand. Once again, the Blue Spruce is brilliant in the late evening sun.


Just a slightly different angle (above) looking west at the setting sun. This time I did not completely block out the sun, but instead allowed it to tickle the lens. By the way, all these image were taken with my iPhone. Remarkable technology.


While this image is very similar to a previous image, that of the parking area behind the Blue Spruce, I paid more attention to the hanging plant in the foreground. Mrs Cog alone is responsible for the beautiful flower selection, though I have been recently drafted into the watering and maintenance of them. It is a labor of love.

That, dear readers, is a small snapshot of our little slice of heaven. I hope you have enjoyed it as much as we do.



Cognitive Dissonance

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