Monday, February 29, 2016

Happy Leap Day

The wind was cold and furious as I walked the dogs this morning.

If it were March 1, it would be lion-like weather. But it is Feb. 29--that date that comes around every four years, my grandma's birthday.

She was born Feb. 29, 1904.

How strange and fascinating it was for me, to always be older than my grandma.

She's been gone for years now, not quite making it to her 25th birthday.

And to this day, she's the only Leap Year baby I know.

Happy 28th Birthday, Grandma!

My mother and grandmother at the first cookie bake at our house in 1998. I didn't have a date on this photo, but figured it out from clues in the kitchen, most notably, the missing vent over the stove top. Also note the corded phone in the background.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Office Cat

When I work from home, this is often my view.

Dewey likes to perch on the scanner and watch me.

Those are during the good moments.

During the bad moments, he walks on the keyboard or presses the print button.

If I ignore him, he'll grab my hand--and sometimes forget to retract his claws.

He'll shred paper.

He'll yowl.

Eventually I'll give in and feed him, or toss him outside.

And he'll give in and snuggle on my lap or a blanket.

And I'll love my office cat once again.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Weather Limbo

When we moved to the farm years ago, I chuckled when the farmer said, "We always get a good rain during fair week," and "there's always a cold snap during the pork conference."

I soon fell into the rhythms of farm life, and learned to count on January blasts of cold and snow, of Februaries that teased with thaws and more snow, of mud-filled March. I transplanted plants in the garden on Mother's Day weekend and looked forward to those late August rains.

But in this year of non-winter, my internal clock is off. We've had little snow, and even less freezing weather. Temperatures reached into the 70's this weekend.

Because it was warm, my body said to clean the barn, to hang clothes on the line--even though it was February.

Because it was February, I admired the crocus that peak through blades of green.

And I worry that the other bulbs are emerging too early.

Because we haven't had weeks of snowy weather and being confined indoors, I have yet to plan my spring garden.

And I really have to think about when lambing season begins.

Lambs are usually the bright spot among the March snow, ice and mud.

But we have little mud, and no frozen ground, and the pregnant ewes are content to browse the pastures looking for morsels of green.

They wear thick winter coats and are hanging onto them a little longer.

Because everything in their bones says that winter isn't over yet.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Feather

On the last day of January, when the skies were gray, the ground muddy, the cornstalks rotting, a bit of yellow caught my eye.

There, along the edge of the corn field was a yellow and black feather.

As I bent down to pick it up, I thought of horseback rides two decades ago and my horseback riding friend.

She would have noticed that feather, stopped and asked me to fetch it, because I was younger, because I was on a shorter horse, because she wanted it.

During our thousands of miles of horseback rides together, she was quick to notice a feather, a heron, a blue sky, a perfect day.

And because of that, I've become quick to spot those bits of beauty, and to think of her.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

What the ground takes and returns

The glint of metal caught my eye. The metal was lying among the brown grass and mud in the sheep pasture.

Rubbing it with my boot, I unearthed a ring and then a chain. I grabbed the ring and pulled out a dog choke collar, muddy, but showing very little rust.

Must have put in a pocket with a hole, I think as I place it in a jeans pocket without a hole.

I find all kinds of treasures as I walk the pastures, hay fields and crop fields. There have been metal blades from machinery, nuts and bolts, cow and sheep ear tags, plastic cow collars, bits of Jolly balls and plastic toy soldiers, glass insulators from an electric pole, rocks and bricks, shotgun cartridges.

The earth seems to gobble them up, and then, after a plow or disc passes, or a series of freeze/thaw cycles, it gives them back.

A few years ago, the melting snow revealed a field of rocks and bricks.

The farmer and I gazed at the field, wondering what happened to cause all the rocks and bricks to come to the surface. We speculate it was a series of freeze/thaw cycles, but we don't know for sure.

The earth never says.

So I am left to discover the treasures, to study them, and to make up my own stories.