This is something I wrote sometime in the spring of 2010, forgot about, & recently rediscovered. I’m publishing it here for the first time.
I feel inadequate to tell the story. Or any story for that matter. What words could I possibly string together that would convey the beauty, the joy, the simplicity, the sorrow of any given day?
There was rain – soft, gentle, soaking spring rain. Rain much needed by the ground, the newly planted seeds, the farmers who have been putting those seeds in the ground for days on end, trying to get as much accomplished as they could before the rain – this rain – brought a halt to it all. Rain also much needed by the farmers’ wives, rain to force their husbands out of the fields and home for just a little bit.
After the rain there was wind, cool and fresh and still damp, blowing the sun back in, a surprise to everyone (especially the weathermen) who thought it was going to rain the next couple of days.
There was the lush grass in the pasture, thick and green, growing with the exuberance of spring, virgin and untouched yet by the cows’ soft palettes. We shuffled through it, delighting at the sound our rubber chore boots made in it, swish-swish, as we went from trailer to shed back to trailer again. 3-and-a-half* people inside the trailer catching the 3-week-old chicks, newly feathered and oh-so-white, except for their heads still covered in the yellow downy fuzz of baby chickhood. One person outside the trailer, receiving each chick – two at a time if we were clever about it – from its catcher and placing it gently in the shed, all the while counting… 102, 103, 104… to be sure we had the number we thought we should have. (If not, we would suddenly be looking very suspiciously upon a certain calico cat that had been hanging around the brooder.) All was well – 152 chicks, just as we’d thought.
*(One of those people took frequent “breaks” to explore, or check on the dog, or turn in circles arms outstretched head tilted back to the sky… as 8-year-old boys are apt to do.)
There was the sight of the 3 of them, running for the creek, released from their chicken wrangling duties once all were in the shed and feed troughs had been filled. We set up the electric perimiter fence while they explored the “sandy beach”, created new along the creek each year by the spring floods. I gazed at them down there, together. I’m sure that for the rest of their lives they’ll tell their stories about how we made them help move chickens and how much they hated it. But my hope is that really, secretly, deep down they’ll think of these as the good times.
There was the litter of pigs born as we sat and watched, as silent and still as we could be, waiting, listening for clues in the sow’s breathing, watching for her side to tense up when she pushed, wondering when the next one would come or if another one would come – she had 8 already – and then out slipped a red one with black spots, wet and glistening, ears back flat against its head. We were awed at how each piglet needed only a minute or so to get acclimated to this world, here, on the outside, before shaking its head, wobbling to its feet, and slowly, clumsily, but steadfastly setting off in search of its first meal. I silently prayed that they – and we – will always have the capacity to feel awe and wonder at these common miracles and the sense to stop and enjoy them.
There was the new calf, jet black, a perfect miniature replica of its mother. It, too, was up on its wobbly legs, already navigating our earth and its gravitational pull, nosing around and under, licking, searching, until it found mama cow’s udder. I marvel at the human species, that it has even survived when we are born unable to maneuver to our mother’s breast, taking a full year to figure out how to get around on our own, and even then and for a long time after still dependent on others for survival.
So you can see… I’m not up to the task of telling the story. There are not words deep enough, or rich enough, or colorful enough to tell the story of today.
1 year ago: