Sunday, November 21, 2010


In contrast to yesterday, today was indoor focused. I cleaned, I helped someone hang pictures in her office, I shopped, I cooked, I baked, I tidied things afterward.

And there are no photos for you from any of it. Even as it was one of my more detailed dinners in a long time. With a goat cheese soufflé and a pear pie and a spicy pot of shrimp. (The soufflé was airy and perfect, the pear pie could be improved upon, the spicy pot of shrimp was fine.)

Sometimes, you don’t want to offer detailed explanations. A wee break in the monologue of a life.

See you tomorrow.

the push

I think you can’t get yourself too comfortable. If I take this hard earned, much longed for free day and do nothing with it, I’ll feel disappointed.

I ask Ed -- so what have you been up to, back at the farmette?
Arranging metals. In the garage. Scrap metals, so that I can make use of them when I need them.


It's a huge job. I'm thinking, he needs a break, I need a break...
Do you want to do a longer ride today? I ask. Hiking will have to wait until the deer hunting season (which starts today) is over. Either that or we buy blaze orange. But a ride – it seems doable still.

Even though it’s very very cold. Low thirties when we set out toward our starting point (Cottage Grove). With a whipping wind.

It’s 2:30. There’s a bit of sun left, but there are plenty of clouds so that the warming effect seems lost on me.

You sure you want to do this? Ed knows how I feel about the cold, particularly when biking. Can’t get too comfortable, can’t get too comfortable... Still, I’m wishing I had worn tights under the pants. And a warmer jacket. And wooly socks.

It’s a twenty-six mile loop and we’ve done it several times in the past, though never quite this late in the season. The hills are moderate – fewer and gentler than those to the west of Madison.


Two miles into the ride Ed asks again if I want to reconsider.
No, I do not. In fact, pedaling hard keeps me reasonably comfortable. Sure, the toes and nose suffer a bit and toward the end of the ride, my fingers join the frozen club, but honestly, I’m okay.


And of course, it’s always lovely to be out on the country roads in south central Wisconsin. (Though I notice that the smaller pools of water are starting to freeze over now.)


On this particular circuit, you’re never without company. Cows, sure, we’re known for that.


Ponies and horses too.


Wild turkeys, in large flocks.


Flying off at the sight of me.


And farmed turkeys too. Most likely in their last week of life. Sigh. Maybe we should have a tofu Thanksgiving...


Oh, and llamas. Wooly, curious, a tad jerky when you touch their neck.


And, because we are in Wisconsin and it is the time of the big hunt, we see hunters. Many, many specks of blaze orange in the woods and fields.


You get used to this of course, and I can’t be one who fusses about hunting. I eat meat after all. (I'm thinking back to the duck breast I had for dinner last night...) And still, it’s jarring to see the success, strapped to the roof of a car or SUV. Even as I congratulate the awfully proud guys who brought in not one but two in the course of the afternoon.


I tell myself that it’s a better way to go than most any butchering that we do with our cattle or other barn-to-table animals. I wave and pedal on.

Of course, stops for a photo, or to admire a particularly stellar snippet of landscape adds minutes to our ride. Ed pedals ahead a number of times and I work hard to catch up.


I’m not surprised when he tells me that we’re running out of daylight. I have a head light, he does not. There’s a faint moon that’s just starting its own ascent, but even though it looks mighty round and full, it’s not throwing the light that some moonlit nights offer.


I watch the geese formation and listen to their distinctive late Fall squawk.


But not for long. I’m cold now. Each time I stop, I cool down even more and it’s hard now to get the speed you need to stay flushed.

Another song, another pause. The heron’s voices are always so pronounced. They're the tuba in the symphony of bird song here. I see them, hiding in the pond. They watch carefully, waiting to see if I come too close. I do not.


And now we’re in the final stretch. I notice the ponds have thin crusts of ice already. I know it’s well below freezing. My fingers can vouch for it.


Ah, to feel warm again! Back in Cottage Grove now. We mount our bikes onto Ed's Geo and head to his sheepshed. He wants to fix my broken food processor, I want to warm up with a cup of tea. And I’ll grant his cat, Isis this much – he’s got a warm body. For once I let him stay on my lap for a long long time, claws and all.