Friday, April 20, 2018

spring

Finally. All that we feel now -- that great swell of hope, of growth, of new potential, that warm air and the pleasure of stepping out without a second thought and without a wrap -- it's all here and it looks as if it's here to stay.

It was a supremely busy day for me: weekly food shopping, errands, haircuts, more errands. Then there was the cat. And new travails surrounding the young chickens. And too, there was Snowdrop -- inside, outside, out and about -- all this filled every spare minute of the day.

Oh, but what a day it was! Let's take a look at it, together.

Breakfast. It's very early. Ed has conference calls scheduled for hours that we normally regard as dozy time. And as always, I want to eat our morning meal before he and I lose ourselves to the day's events.



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I am, therefore, done with errands early. The sun is just hitting its noon peak when I settle in to do some writing.

It was not to be. The cat comes calling.



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We are still debating as to whether she is a feral or a wandering kitty that belongs to some household down the road. We think the former. She is a hungry girl.

She is beginning to trust us some. I'll come within a couple of feet of her to put the dish of cat food down. She no longer runs away. (Is she a femal cat? I'm guessing yes. There is an absence of assertiveness about her. We wonder how she survived the winter. She seems so terribly calm about life.)

The day warms to a delightful 60F (15C). Ed sheds his jacket and stays in shorts all day long. Here he is, rebuilding the teepee for my climbing vines.



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And now I bring Snowdrop to the farmette. No way will she go inside! In my absence, Ed brought out the little play fence I had once acquired (and then never used) for toddler watching purposes. Next, out came some old screens to create a roof. Finally -- the three young hens, placed inside for their first outdoor fling.

He brings out their food. Snowdrop helps him at every turn.



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It's funny -- had he asked me if I thought this was a good idea, I would have said no. The chicks are not even five weeks old. There are still patches of snow outside. No! Too young!

At the same time, they're getting restless indoors. You may think that they're contained in the huge cardboard box, but they are so active, that wood dust and dander fly every which way when they scamper about. I no longer want to eat breakfast in the sun room. It's too full of chicken life!

Needless to say, Ed's idea was a good one. The three young girls love their time with real soil. They peck at it, scratch it and bathe in it to their hearts content.


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And Snowdrop? The weather unfurled her imagination to new heights. She finds sticks for us all and proposes that we draw "decorations in the snow."


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When Ed protests that he doesn't know what decorations to draw, she suggests that he "use his imagination." (I have to think she picked that up from one of her teachers.)


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It was a glorious hour of play!


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I drive the little one home then, in part because I have another errand to do in her neighborhood (where there is a lovely children's store). My tiny shopping expedition is productive and I am especially happy to see how welcoming the sales clerk is of Snowdrop. I mean, I get it: small stores have to compete with online shopping. They need to make it worth your while to head out to their own retail space. Nonetheless, it is so pleasant when a store treats a young one with respect.


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As the little girl explains that she is digging out weeds, the clerk comments -- she surely has a fertile imagination. Yes, of this there can be no doubt.

(Back at her house, she discovers that the play computer knows her name. She is flabbergasted. Or amused. Or both.)

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Beautiful afternoon. With so many more just in front of us. Welcome to spring.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

dizzying day

I am sure that there aren't many on this planet, who appreciate today's glorious sunshine as much as we do here in south central Wisconsin! Yesterday's snowstorm was the final slap in a season that has been nothing but unkind to us. Whereas I read that it was 81F (27C) in Paris and 70F (21C) in Warsaw, we were stuck at the freezing point all day long. And the snow and ice fell hard, pounding relentlessly at the roads, at our gardens, at anyone who dared venture out.

Ah, but this morning, this still and peaceful morning, there isn't a cloud in the sky. I come out just at sunrise and though it is still just below freezing, I know that this scene of winter loveliness will not last long.


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It is enchanting!


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No matter where you look, there is a quilt of snow.


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And it stays with us all morning long.


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The farmette, in lacy loveliness.


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Should we ski? The snow is heavy and wet and that lovely sunshine is sure to do its bit to make gliding a challenge. Nonetheless, it is deep enough! As deep as anything we've had this past season! Let's go, now, before breakfast, before it melts, let's get moving!

(Hey, where are you dashing off to??)


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We head out to our local county park. Not surprisingly, we are not the only ones out with skis. Two other people are sporting that big grin that comes from having been handed a gift of a lovely skiing moment!

And it truly is a beautiful scene...


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No, the turtles are not out, but the birdsong is strong, vibrant, as if we were in a meadow with buttercups and forget-me-nots rather than looking out on a field of snow.


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At first, Ed complains that the snow is sticky. Glide, buddy, glide! The faster the better!

...With pauses to cast appreciative glances at the forest, so beautiful that it makes you smile at the magic of it all!


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It does help to know that within a very short time, it will all be gone and we'll be on track with spring once more.

(Camera perched on tree branch...)


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(One last one...)


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At home now. Breakfast, hearty and delightful after the hour on skis.


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By the time I pick up Snowdrop, the great melt has begun. In Madison, the south facing flowerbed at her school is almost without snow. And note that the girl herself is quite comfortable without a jacket.


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We play for a short while at the farmhouse...


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And then I take her home. We have a date to go to the park with her mommy.
I only need a sweater. Please, can you button all five buttons?



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Time to go!
But I'm starving! (She displays perfect expression of inner anguish.)


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Finally, the local playground, where, predictably, she is very happy.


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We're joined by a sandhill crane. Who knew that cranes liked playgrounds?


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Do cranes like stories? Here's someone who can tell you one.


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So many games to play and things to do on a sunny April afternoon! And finally, the day is warm enough to do them.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

bizarre blizzard

All day, the warnings came: heavy snow expected this afternoon. Look for at least half a foot accumulation.

We're almost unaffected by the strangeness of this weather. Hardened by weeks of cold, we shrug our shoulders and talk not of planting perennials, but of taking out skis tomorrow.

Never have I contemplated skiing here in April, let alone the second half of April.

Incredible!

(Hey, what's happening?)


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Breakfast, luxuriously colorful.


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Outside, Java flounders.


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And it is just the beginning of the storm.

I have to rethink my afternoon with Snowdrop. Normally, she would come to the farmhouse after school and eventually I would take her to dance. Indeed, when I pick her up, she has her ballet shoes on. She is so ready for this.  But the weather is so awful, that everything is closing early (with the exception of schools -- our schools rarely close for reasons of snow). There will be no dance today.

Is she disappointed? For sure. But Snowdrop easily navigates changed paths and adjusted schedules.



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I tell her that instead, I'll be driving her straight home. We'll play for a while there. (I see no reason to put her on the slippery rural roads that lead to the farmette. We may as well stick to city streets. After, I can slowly make my own way home.)

Of course, she can always do a dance or two at home. On tippy toes...


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Leg up high...


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A twist, a spin, a run, a grin.


The snow comes down hard. As I pull into the driveway at the farmette, I notice how pretty it is, in a Christmas card sort of way. Where was all this snow when we longed for it, say in January?


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Lovely, but so out of place here, on April 18th.

A little red...


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A little yellow...



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And a lot of white. And no green in sight.

Unbelievable!


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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

waiting

Snowdrop has a book titled "Waiting." It's really a nonstory. It reads almost like a poem, meandering between scenes of ... waiting. I'm somewhat surprised that  the little girl likes it so much. Toys, on a windowsill, waiting.

I thought of that book countless times today.

It was a day of waiting. Suspended between weather systems, there is nothing to be done outside. Snow the last two days, a tiny warm up today, more snow tomorrow. Then, too, it is a day where Snowdrop has afternoon engagements and so I am not spending my usual afternoon with her. Ed laughs that I am at loose ends. Perhaps.

After breakfast...


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I search the internet for a well regarded inexpensive double stroller. Ed helps by looking through used options. Nothing is good. And it doesn't really matter: there is no hurry, I can wait.

Since I have a free day, I take care of something that I absolutely have to do this week -- renew my expiring driver's license. We know how this works: you go to the DMV much as you go to the SSI: pick a number and wait. Seemingly forever.

But I'm surprised: I fill out a form online, I schedule my arrival, I show up and have that photo snapped, vision tested and boom! Five minutes later I'm out of there!

Good. If I'm to wait, twiddle thumbs, meditatively stare at the beautiful sky, with wisps of sun touching the ribbons of melting snow, it's more satisfying to do it at the farmette.


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I think we should walk. This from Ed, who perhaps thinks I've spent too much time today looking at ribbons of melting snow and double strollers online.
Too muddy!
How about along the lakefront road? By Lake Waubesa?

It's a great place to meander on a cool but sunny April afternoon. The birds are loud, the ducks are plentiful.


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And the sandhill cranes complain about the spring that will not come.

(Sandhill courtship...)


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(Duck courtship...)


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At the farmette, the cat came back. Is it that cat? Is it someone's pet? A feral? We can't tell. But he was hungry and we fed him, trying very hard to chase Peach and Java away while he sampled chicken meat!


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Tomorrow there'll be more snow. Then we'll wait again -- but maybe, after that, we need wait no more.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Monday

The snows tapered off this morning. Now comes the interminable wait for it all to melt. That wont happen today -- we're hovering right around freezing.

A friend in Poland send me photos of tulips and violets blooming their heads off right now. Typically our growing season parallels Poland's growing season. But what color do I have in my garden today? I suppose I can offer this sweet cardinal, who looks like a splotch of red paint carelessly sprayed onto a winter canvas.


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I wont keep comparing, but still, it feels so unfair. Last year on this day, the daffodils were in full bloom. Hundreds of them. The cherry blossoms were profuse. We ate breakfast and dinner on the porch. How could this year be so completely crazy?

Of course, there will always be color at the breakfast table.


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And a warm space to play for Snowdrop when she comes here after school.

The little girl gets a bit of a reward today from me -- oil pastels to experiment with (non-toxic!). She had done a remarkable piece of art in school and I thought it was a good moment to bring out colors that she can mix. So that today she sees that blue and yellow make green and more importantly, red and white make pink!


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The afternoon also calls for warm foods. She's on it!


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And I am too. The young family will be with us for "Sunday" dinner and so I have much to prepare. As I move to the kitchen, Snowdrop picks up my camera. It's not an SLR, but nor is it a light point and shoot. It's clunky for her little hands. I'm sort of taken aback. Careful! Careful, Snowdrop! It's so fragile! Here's how I look at that moment -- as seen in Snowdrop's first picture of .... me.


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Evening. Mom hasn't seen daughter for a whole day! Lap time is in order.


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The meal...


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And now it's dark and all is quiet and perhaps if I just retreat upstairs and go to sleep soon it will be morning and there will be sunshine and maybe a daffodil in the front yard?

Not likely. But soon! I mean, at some point, spring will come.