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December 2012

Winter-Blues Old Bear


As I lay in bed this morning under a pile of blankets – gazing through the window into the woods; watching it snow and snow and snow on a world already covered in snow; spotting a doe making her way across my vista, a lean, silent creature delicately nosing the base of this tree and that in her search for anything at all worth eating, and I thought to myself: oh how I hate New York winters. I really, really hate them. Wish I could sleep through them. Please make it stop. I pulled the covers over my head. If I stayed under here until our next vacation could the family cope? I know: snow and dark and cold are supposed to be no big deal to a northerner. I try not to mind them. But they just suck: they suck out my life force, make my bones ache. Make me wish I could stay under my covers until Spring. But the dog whined at the door and the chickens gabbled for chow so I pulled myself together and rolled out. Outside a tidy path had been laid in the snow between the coops and when I opened the door I found half the flock assembled for a meeting and the nesting box loaded: 10 eggs.


Apparently neither knee-high snow, nor plunging temperatures, nor a sun absent from the sky for five days straight could dampen this dutiful flock’s mood. Lilac the Rooster guarded the door, behavior that ordinarily earned him considerable pain and suffering in the form of relentless pecks to the head, but when a guy’s domineering ways protect a girl from the wind and makes the house warmer, well now, hens can be persuaded to see him differently.


Three seconds after coming back inside Tigger found her ball and whined go out again. Such a stupid dog. Was there ever a morning when I felt less like playing catch? I pulled my coat back on and grabbed the camera. Why not. Why not document all the things that make winter in New York such a drag. Back in the hen yard I opened the coop for a flock beauty shot and – holy macaroni – two more eggs! Twelve in a single 24-hour period from a flock of seven hens, and a record for the Schutt Farmette. Hurray for us? I watched the fat, sausage-roll dog barrel through the snow, smiling like this was her happiest day on Earth, and had to laugh.  Then she was done; tuckered out; panting and wanting back inside for a nap. Me too. Back under my covers to wait it out. Like a grumpy, stiff, sore, winter-blues old bear. I hate winters in New York. By the way, does anyone need eggs?



16 is a real number. I remember it. I traveled that year. Missed my mom.
16 was the year mom married. Took up residence with a half-stranger indisposed to Viet Nam-brand PTSD. Got pregnant. Began sharpening her survival skills.
I look at The Girl and wonder how can this be? What does a 16-year old know about life, anyway?
Just enough, if her dad and I can help it, but not too much.
For as long as they can may The Girl’s thin worries revolve around road tests and college applications, report cards and prom dresses; may her outlook remain simplistic and unyielding; may she continue to adore puppies and awkward boys; be grumpy at 6:30 a.m.; carry on, unencumbered.
The free spirit of her granddaughters would have pleased mom. And I suspect had she been there she would have worn a tiara to The Girl’s 16th birthday dinner, too.