Wednesday, March 08, 2017


The last time I witnessed winds this strong on brilliant winter days (nonstop, one day after the next) was in Provence, with Ed, many years ago. I never thought that the Midwest was mistral territory, but we are in the second day of raging winds and sunny skies and so I have those Provencal images -- of pigs going crazy and hair standing on end (le vent qui rend fou -- the wind that drives you mad!).

We listen to it howling outside...

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When I step out of the car at Snowdrop's school, I get punched with such a strong gust, that I tell myself this is not stroller weather. I'm hoping I can distract the little girl with this gorgeous sight (crocuses always pop up in the city a week or so earlier than at the farmette).

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But Snowdrop is determined. When she sees me, she runs over with great excitement -- hi gaga hi gaga hi gaga! Let's go a'venturing!

And it really feels like an adventure to walk those neighborhood blocks while the winds hits us in the face or beats us on the back. However, to give me credit, I come prepared! A hair tie for a pony tail to keep the hair out of her face and a cap to keep her snug in case she decides she is up for the playground (which, as you perhaps have noticed, is by a lake, causing the winds to be that much stronger).

But first, a stop at the coffee shop. I am thrilled to see so much color on the walls! A brilliant idea to have these vibrant paintings on display in March!

(Snowdrop initially is distracted by the view to the lake outside...)

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(When asked which painting she likes best, she picks the most color-filled canvas.)

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And she is undeterred. I want to go to the playground! 
Okay, Snowdrop. Just don't get blown away! 
The girl really does love that swing.

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For the car ride back to the farmette I had taken off her warm jacket (it is sunny, the car is too warm for it). When I unload her, I tell her to run to the farmhouse. But she sees Ed by the barn and she runs to him instead.

A piece of barn roofing is hanging on for dear life and Ed is about to fix it. She loves the ladder, though she is herself too cautious to climb even the lowest rungs.

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We admire the fresh eggs in the barn instead. Thank you, Henny, thank you Scotch.

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Which brings me to the subject of this morning's discussion.
Ed had asked: should we get some guinea hens?
Listen to this... And he reads me some glowing paragraphs about the hens on the Mother Jones website.
I am both incredulous and fascinated.

What's the draw? Well, guinea hens lay eggs, sure -- smaller ones than chicken eggs, but what really makes them an outstanding farm bird is that they eat bugs. Box elder beetles, Japanese beetles, ticks, all kinds of pesky bugs. (We have at the moment our annual influx of box elder beetles in the farmhouse and they are terribly annoying and of course, the Japanese beetles destroyed our grapes last year, so the temptation is great.)

Of course, every farm animal comes with a price tag and it's not one that's measured in dollars.
Guinea hens are loud. Some say they pester the chickens. And whereas chickens seem to know instinctively the boundaries of your piece of land, guinea fowl can roam. Indeed, they can and do fly. Right into your neighbor's yard (and may I remind you that we may be getting many new neighbors this spring to the north of us). And, as one commenter wrote: they are one stupid animal.

Still, might there be a real benefit to having them around? We're tossing this around, though perhaps with less force than the winds that are turning things upside down outside.

But in the farmhouse, all is warm, all is calm and Snowdrop spends many minutes doing here what she seems to love so much -- drinking her pretend tea.

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In my view, Snowdrop is very tied to the rhythm of a day. Her mood changes as we move through it. After a nap, she takes a while to come around to her previous energy levels. This is the time when she most loves listening to story books and this is the time when she eventually makes her way back to her toy characters, which she arranges in endless configurations. And yes, there is always a story that accompanies these arrangements. Snowdrop is a born story teller.

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As the sun moves toward the horizon, the winds die down. There is a sudden quiet that is both unexpected and peaceful. I think to myself -- why would we add noisy guinea hens to this quiet landscape?

I suppose the answer is obvious: for no reason except that there are hens out there that could find happiness here.

Ah, life! You can't really predict what will happen if you follow one imperative and ignore another. Maybe for the most basic decisions, we should just flip a coin.