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Thought for the moment.....

Monday, May 5, 2014

An essay on a New England Spring

Cold mud rivers take their path between my toes as I step through my garden.  The air still has a haunting chill but the desperation to touch the small buds peeking from the branches of my berry bushes and to feel the ground move beneath my feet is stronger than my body's need for comfort.  Or maybe it is that my body now finds a commonplace in cold discomfort after months of unrelenting chills that found me even in front of the fireplace with my blanket and my dogs and my steaming coffee.

There were days in the depth of winter when I found it painful to even breathe.  One pair of gloves under one pair of mittens made my hands frustratingly inept and yet failed to keep my fingers warm.  My snow pants were slid over my jeans which were on top of my yoga pants every morning before heading out.  They made my knees and hips nearly inflexible as I tried to manage the stairs leading into the backyard.  My chest and arms and head were covered by shirts under sweaters and hats under hoods and scarves under bulky winter jackets.  My teeth ached from the cold.  My lips chapped in the wind.  My eyes watered and I was grateful the salt would keep them from freezing on my cheeks.

I would move slowly down the road toward the barn with buckets of water sloshing onto the sides of my little red wagon.  The droplets would make it down to the wagon axle before freezing making the wheels stick as I pulled it forward over large frost heaves.  The goats and sheep would be waiting by the fence.  Their little whiskers glimmering in the morning light, frozen from the condensation of their own breath.  Running in and out of the barn, they would move anxiously wanting to stay warm but not wanting to miss any possible chance for food.

There were mornings when my tears came not only from the wind but from my spirit.  The cold was in my bones and I knew with all of my heart and soul that hell was not on fire at all.  Hell was the absence of any heat.  Hell was the pain in my fingers and the ache in my back and the feeling that I would never be warm again.  Hell, I believed, was a never ending winter.

As I dig in the soil with my small shovel I drop to my knees.  I can feel my jeans soak up the moisture on the ground as I reach into the hole I have dug and pull out more soil with my hands.  Blueberry bushes are standing silently by my side and I talk to them.  I assure them that I will not allow them to get too dry or too much sun.  I gently lift them out of their plastic confinement and put them in the cool ground.  I fill in the sides of the hole with soil using my palms to push down the earth.  A worm is uncovered and I am thrilled because I know it will love my garden as I do.

Each plant is put into the ground with deliberate joy and a sense of celebration.  The spring is finally here and the torment of the relentless winter is starting to fade into a memory.  I stretch my legs with a walk to the barn, pressing down the frost heaves with my naked feet on the way.  The goats and sheep call out their excitement over my visit.  The largest one spins in circles and jumps up on their play equipment.  I can see grass poking through the fertile ground and my eyes squint as my lips curl into a smile.

I stand by the fence and talk to them as they tickle my face with their whiskers and dance around joyfully in the sun.  I turn away and walk back toward the garden to do more spring cleaning. The rooster crows his approval and the dogs bark in jubilation.  My hoe digs at the dried asparagus stalks as I clear them from their bed to allow new sprouts to grow.  I can see them peeking out from the soil tentatively and I know by weeks end they will be everywhere, some as thick as my thumb and all of them sweet as honey.

I set up an old bench and create an arbor from old goat fencing.  I reach my hand up to hold it steady and I can picture the beans crawling up the side.  My eyes squint into the sun as I picture the cucumbers that will hang from the roof.  Sweet melons will cover the ground.  I lay on the grass and imagine the lettuce and cilantro that will hide from the sun under the arbor.  I will pick the herbs and hold them between my teeth or roll them between my fingers while I sit in the shade too.  I will watch the bees pollinate my plants and I will be grateful.  I will praise the sun as it brings life to my garden.

I know now that hell is not the ninety degree weather with ninety percent humidity that I thought it was last summer.  It is not yellow jackets and tics sinking into my skin.  Hell is not broken air conditioning units or hot asphalt or the dark leather seats of my car burning into my legs.  Hell is not the skin peeling from my shoulders or the dark spots on my face or the sweat from my forehead burning into my eyes.  Resting on the bench with my tired arms on my lap I notice a mosquito land on my hand.  I slapped at it and a small spot of blood marks my palm.  Hell is not mosquitoes that find the flavor of my blood irresistible.  Hell is the absence of heat.  Hell is, surely, not a never ending summer.

Silky and Cochin Hut 2011

Guineas in their new flight cage!

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Easy Homemade Bread!