31 March 2013

Flo’s Presence

Flo's Presence

Flo's Presence

I have always paid more attention to dogs than cats, and watching Flo move from the periphery to the mainstream of farm life has been an education. For months, she was a shadow running across the pasture or down the road. She never showed herself to us. I never realized she was sleeping up in the woodshed, just a few feet from where I went to get firewood. During one heavy snowstorm, she showed herself to Maria by looking through the Studio window. She chose wisely.

Maria fed her, and they began to communicate. Weeks later, she showed herself to me. We took her to the vet and brought Red. She jumped off the vet's table and smacked Red across the nose. The next day Lenore ran over her to say hello and she got whacked as well. Still, we rarely saw Flo. Now, she lounges all day by the back door, follows us outside as we do our chores, sashays up to me and demands to be picked up. Yesterday Maria and I sat on the back porch in the sun to meditate there for a few minutes, and Flo hopped up into Maria's lap and sat quietly for 15 minutes.

Like people, animals evolve, and this cat has steadily evolved into the center of life here. She pays no attention to the dogs – she keeps an eye on Frieda. We are happy with our cat's lives, and we have no plans to bring them inside. Flo pushed Minnie around for awhile, but more and more, we see the two of them together.

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Easter Lunch At Momma’s

Lunch At Momma's

Lunch At Momma's

We were surprised to learn that Momma's restaurant, our neighborhood hangout run by Louise Fairbanks, was going to open on Easter. Nothing much around her is open on Easter, especially restaurants, bowing to the one holiday that hasn't been turned over yet to discount shopping. Louise said last year she had three customers all day, none at the bar. So we figured that Momma's was the appropriate place for us to take a break from digging the lilac bushes and eat at Momma's, a place we are very comfortable. My Easter lunch was a turkey wrap with coleslaw, Maria's was a veggie wrap.

Louise did have a few people in there, but I browbeat her into posing at the bar. She is a strong woman, and strong woman make for great photographs. Some day I would love to open a Strong Woman Photo Gallery, but that perhaps ought best to be done by a female photographer. For some reason, I don't want to photograph strong men.

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When Lilacs Bloom. Done

When lilacs bloom

When lilacs bloom

Shortly after Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, the poet Walt Whitman wrote a requiem to him, "When Lilacs Bloom.." The sorrowful poem gave lilacs a legacy powerful this day for a flowering shrub. At the time, and partially to honor Lincoln, farmers planted lilac bushes around their houses, a custom that continues to this day. Florence has four lilac bushes on the property, on either end of the farmhouse and along the pasture gate. They are old and struggling.

I planted lilacs at Bedlam Farm – it was at the suggestion of my first-wife, who researched them carefully – and they have grown and flowered by the Pig Barn there. Maria and I went to a Granville nursery and picked out two that we could fit into the car. We thought it an appropriate Easter gift to the farm. It was a few hours of digging, hauling donkey manure, cleaning up and rolling the heavy root balls around to the right position.

I am especially appreciating the physical labor of the farm. It is sometimes hard, it always feels good and healthy. A farm does keep one engaged and vital, I am sure. We are happy to have them, and look forward to them bringing color and life to the farmhouse. Our Easter was quite and beautiful, and also meaningful. We visited with the donkeys, walked the dog's, dig our lilacs and this evening will go out to dinner with a friend in nearby Williamstown, Mass.

I thought a lot about my family today, I always do on holidays, and I wish them all much love and meaning in their lives. I wish that of my new family online as well. We had an Easter lunch at Momma's, our neighborhood hangout. It seemed the right place to be.

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Chickens In The Wind

In The Wind

In The Wind

A strong gusty and chilling wind came up suddenly while we were planting the lilacs, and the chickens went low in the grass near the pasture to huddle down, their feathers rippling as a storm approaches. I wanted to capture the sense of hunkering down and the feeling of the wind howling around, so I opened up the exposure. I think I caught it.

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Underway, With Supervision

Underway

Underway

The lilac dig is well underway. I'm hauling donkey manure from the pasture and piling up the dirt, Maria is digging out a hole for the first bush. We are being closely supervised by Lenore and Red, who are keeping a watch on things. The ground is soft. We are digging shallow holes as that is best for lilac bushes in terms of growth. It will take us two or three hours and a strong, cold wind has come up. Lenore is helping out by eating awful things on the ground, Red is keeping the sheep at bay and away from the gate while we get the manure. Donkey manure is great for gardening.

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