Sunday, November 14, 2010

A Man and his Dog in Autumn and Winter

One day we were quietly walking around the grounds together, admiring the horses and sheep in balmy, autumn weather, and the next we’re hunkered down watching the heavy snow spread its burden across the land.
by Charlie Leck

Sunday morning thoughts!
Friday was a lovely day here. Certainly it was novemberish and one needed a sweater and a hat for one’s daily walk, but the crispness was refreshing and clean feeling. My dog, Jasper, and I walked all around the farm, happily examining all the good work the boys had done in readying

the place for the coming winter. Farm machinery and the wagons and trailers, so heavily used in the summer, were cleaned up and parked neatly away. The roads around the farmyard were crisp and smooth, the fences repaired and strong looking, and the acres of lawn trimmed and pretty much cleared of all the leaves that had fallen. The lambs frolicked over the grass, stirred by the briskness of the day and the horses whinnied and kicked up their hind legs at shadows and imaginings. The barn cats and kittens scurried away from Jasper as he approached and found protection from him in the caves they had built in the giant stacks of hay.

Happily, we gave the old place an A+ for winter readiness and we were pleased.

Then on Sunday morning we awoke to snow covering the land and pouring down on us more like rain. It was a heavy, heavy snow that was too much for many of the trees. Small branches and limbs cracked loudly and either hung grotesquely from the big trees or crashed to the ground with sounds that echoed throughout the woods.

A fine red cedar bent so far under the weight of the wet snow that its tip touched the ground. Finally it snapped and the top half of it crashed down, revealing spectacular veins of deep, rich red flowing against the blondness of the wood beneath its bark. The handsome, fallen tree completely blocked the road that was our outlet to the world away from our farm. An old basswood gave up one of its giant lower limbs to the weight of the snow-rain mixture and the extremity crashed down on our driveway, leaving no way around it.

Five or six inches of the fresh, white cover built up on the sidewalks around our house and on the long driveway out to the town road. Trying to move it was ridiculously silly. I relied on the weather man who was telling us that the temperatures would warm and the snow would melt. With that as motivation, I cleared only shovel-wide paths from the house to the garage and only a single, narrow lane up and down the hills on our driveway. Normally, my small plow can clear and groom the driveways easily, but it struggled on this morning against the massive weight of the moist snow. It was cold, white rain that fell and my hat, gloves and coat soaked it up and weighted me down. I had to take regular breaks just to dry off and find fresh outerwear in order to take up the work again.

I encouraged Jasper, a black lab, to join me in the thick snow. He refused, making only a quick trip to his favorite, nearby spots to relieve himself, and then begged to be allowed back into the asylum of the warm, dry house.

“Some dog,” I complained to my wife, “you’ve spoiled him with all your petting and that silly, heated bed you got him.”

“Same way I spoiled you, I guess,” she retorted, wondering why I wasn’t outside moving snow.

“The weatherman says it will be warm enough today to melt it all quickly. No sense trying to move it now. It’ll kill me or break my back.”

She was dressed in real farmwear and serious boots and gloves. She was going to fire up a tractor with a front-end-loader and move broken tree limbs aside and open up both our driveway and the road. I wanted to take a photograph of her, fully wrapped and hidden from recognition, but she shook her fist at me and warned me against such foolishness. She went off and I found my third set of clothing for the day and prepared to join her. I invited the dog to come along, but he snuggled down in his heated bed and covered his eyes with his paws so that I couldn't stare at him with disdain.

I walked down the driveway. I heard the tractor up ahead, pushing the fallen giant limb of the basswood tree off to the side. By the time I reached the spot, the dear woman I so admire had already moved off to the fallen red cedar tree up on the road. I trudged on through the wet snow and went to join her and one of our neighbors who had stopped to help.

Ah, Minnesota! Why is it I love you so? I looked out over the rolling, white land and I knew. This place is special and it is reserved for those willing to interact with Mother Nature in a sort of intimate, thorough way.

"Bring it on, girl! Bring it on!"


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1 comment:

  1. Almost makes me wish for snow here. I said almost.