Friday, November 24, 2017

Friday after Thanksgiving

Unbelievable weather! We hit a record high of 64F (18C). It's a one day only spike. A gift. We must take advantage of it!

But wait, there are all these post dinner dishes to attend to.

Or are there? In one of those memorable surprises, as I sat down to post last night, fighting sleepiness all the way, Ed, without my realizing it, stacked the dishwasher and generally cleaned up for me.

You did that? And you scraped the dishes too? (To my knowledge, Ed has never stacked a dishwasher in his life. He had never had one and I rarely use the one we had put into the farmhouse.)
No, of course not.
Ed! They were crusted and greasy! No rinsing at all?

And here's a surprise: this morning, I open the dishwasher and find remarkably clean and shiny dishes! All those years of scraping and rinsing! Unnecessary! The darn machine gets them clean anyway!


Breakfast, which is for me a stroll down Thanksgiving lane (spice cake, cranberry corn muffins) ...

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... And then we both walk over to the barn to visit the kittens. Ed had rigged a shelter for them with hay bales, leaving a dish of cat food to entice them in.

But there wasn't a sign of kitties. No scurrying noises. No faces to the warm sun. The food in the dish was untouched.

I speculate that these kittens weren't raised in the wild. Maybe they are our neighbor's, coming over for a playful romp here, but returning home at the end of the day.
Our neighbor isn't a cat guy.
So maybe they were just passing through for a Thanksgiving visit...

We return to the farmhouse and plan the rest of the day. The weather is the decisive factor. A hike is definitely in order. One that doesn't require a long drive.

This is a lot of decision making, on the day after Thanksgiving no less, when the brain and the body both work very slowly. It's after 1 by the time we put on our hiking shoes and make our way to the car.

Wait! What's this??

The cheepers are by the two cars and the truck. And so are the five kittens.

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Ed hurries to the barn to retrieve the uneaten cat food. Slowly, with little noise or jerky movement, we push the dishes of food to where they are.

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The bolder ones come forward right away and eat with great enthusiasm. The shy ones hide in the groundhog condominium, dug out under the truck.

The mom appears out of nowhere. She is carrying a mouse. One of her brood gets it and he enthusiastically settles in for his own Thanksgiving extravaganza.

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We watch, quite spellbound. The mom is off to hunt again. She has raised five babes in the wild. She works hard to keep them fed.

This raises a host of questions for us. Should we continue to feed them? Does this create reliance? The cheepers are curious about the dishes of food, but of course -- they can't eat that stuff. (Much of cat food is based on chicken scraps.) I distract them with scraps of bread for now. The kitties and the hens are very aware of each other. How will all this play out in months to come? The cold cold months ahead of us?

Eventually, when the kittens have polished off all the food in the dishes, we shoo them out of car range and drive off.

It is a late start for a hike!

We head out to the Ice Age Trail segment, just west of Madison. And boom! We cone to that sign that warns us of the hunting season this week. The trail is officially closed. Just as well: with all the cat distractions, we forgot our blaze orange vest and cap (on the weekend when it's really important to wear them).

So where to now? We both agree that our state park, the very beautiful Governor Dodge Park is a good bet. You're not going to get shot down in a state park, right? True, it's still a good 38 minutes away from where we are at the moment and it it nothing short of dumb to start a hike at the end of November in Wisconsin at 3 o'clock (the sun sets at 4:25).

Still, it's a beautiful drive along the back roads of our state. For a while we track the Wisconsin River. Yes, the light is lovely in the late late afternoon...

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Finally, the state park. What? At the entrance, the sign tells us -- hunters welcome!

I ask the park ranger if we will get hunted down, what without orange clothing.
We haven't lost a hiker yet -- he tells me somewhat reassuringly.

And in fact, though we come across many a huntsman, our loop takes us away from any gunfire. Here, follow along with us!

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The descending sun is a playful companion.

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The shadows grow very long and finally, there are no shadows at all.

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The sun does a final dip...

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A fishing boat pulls in. The thin ice that had started to form at the water's edge is nearly gone now...

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It is time to head home.

One last look at the sun from the crest of a hill...

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And we turn away from it all and drive back to the farmette.

The moon shines brightly over our landscape. Good night daughters and granddaughter, good night all, goodnight kitties, wherever you are.

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