Winter Reflections

 

TIMG_5859he year is turning to the end

The wick is burning low

While in the kitchen light and bright

The Christmas cake aglow

 

IMG_5758The days are growing short my dear

The winter at it’s best

I watch the candle float away

The Solstice now at rest

                                                           

 IMG_4805

My brother lies beneath our tree

In dreams of what’s to come

The colored lights are twinkling

While festive music hums

 

IMG_5727We feed the fire log by log

Light flickers on the wall

We’re printing Christmas cards with doves

And wishing peace to all

Daffodil’s Date

“We can do this,” I say to my mother as we pull on our tough jackets to shield us from the biting cold weather. I offer to go grab the goat and bring her back to the car. My dad helps lift her front feet onto the car bumper. We push, shove, and squeeze her into a dog crate. The crate is too small for her, but I know it will have to do. I tell her that the ride will be only 45 minutes. Daffodil bleats awkwardly from her crate.

We are taking her (as we did our older doe, three weeks prior) to visit a nearby buck for service. If all goes well today, in five months time we will have some incredibly cute baby goats and a greater quantity of fresh milk.

My brother waits in the car, as we direct a wide-eyed Daffy to the buck pen. The buck, named Moe, has a musky smell, similar to the taste of very strong goat cheese. At the sight of this new doe, Moe flaps his tongue excitedly and makes a strange grunting sound like an old car coming to life. He looks gigantic next to my little doe.

Daffodil starts running in fear at the sound of his menacing call. She runs down the pasture, around the goat shed, and back toward me. Moe follows right behind flapping his tongue and grunting with great anticipation. Daffy falters in the mud and I worry if she will hurt herself. Is Moe too big for her? Is he acting too menacing? Why is she being so elusive? How will he be able to mount her if she keeps running?

After a while, Daffodil calms down and stops running. Moe’s owner tries holding Daffy against the fence, but we have more luck when my mother holds her. Each time Moe mounts her I watch carefully to see if his mounting is taking. If it happens successfully three times then we can go home.

Finally we load our tired out goat back into the car. We exchange money and information for our registry papers. An hour has passed at the farm. Everyone climbs back in the car. We are ready to head home in the fading light, past the open fields and dilapidated double-wide trailers.

It has been more than a week since we took Daffodil on her exciting adventure and we have had our first real frost. The goats fluff up their coats to protect themselves from the cold. The fall has turned to winter; and as the light is dwindling I have the coming holiday season and the possibility of baby goats to look forward to. In the evening I lift their tails to check for signs of heat. If they go into heat again it means that they are not pregnant. I relax when I cannot find any. All is well.

 

 

These November Days

These days I have been:

~ Watching the goats fur get thicker for the winter

~Remembering a recent walk we took to Woodard Bay

~Enjoying the fungi and fall colored leaves

~Marveling at my sister’s different Wee Folk creations

~Thinking back to the pumpkins and turnips that we carved for Halloween

~Holding on to the last sunny days

~Noticing reflections in the raindrops and puddles from recent rainfalls

~Looking forward to my new knitting project with some very pretty honey-colored yarn

~Falling in love with watching the firelight and feeling the warmth on my face

~Feeling excited for our newly renovated room and the things we brought back from a big Ikea trip (oh the sheep skins!)

~Enjoying recent family board games, including a game of chess in the sun, and a contentious game of clue

~Feeling thankful for all of it and so much more!

Vignettes of October

     IMG_2873Thursday, October 1, 2015

The afternoon sun shines. My brother and I decide to take the goats in the woods. We rush off, calling to the goats to follow us, the goats do not heed our calls, and trot away on their own trail looking for food. My brother and I follow the well-worn path, only taking detours to find the brightest fall leaves. I photograph them all. My brother wants to go back to the house and I do not. We negotiate, and I finally decide to leave. Walking back, I think of all the dying leaves I have photographed, and I thing of one of the newest words I have learned, senescence. The definition of senescence is biological aging and gradual deterioration. Recently, my mother keeps finding dead animals, a chicken, a raccoon, and a baby bird. Today I found the leaves. The fall is bringing senescence.



IMG_8414 Sunday, October 4, 2015

My dad, brother, and I are going on a walk at a nearby park. The walk goes through the woods and out to the beach. It is only a few miles from our house, and we go their every fall to see the maple leaves. The color in the leaves has not quite changed, but the woods are still lovely. The sun is shining when we come to the beach. The yellow and green trees reflect on the water, making the view beautiful. My dad gazes off, soaking it up. My brother and I head to the water’s edge. I take pictures of the small beauties. Beside me, an invisible attack is taking place, rocks and sticks are splashing into the water. We each have found our place.



IMG_3111Wednesday, October 7, 2015

School ends early and my dad drives me home before lunch. Grabbing my camera and a raincoat, I follow DLF and my mother outside into the rain. Raindrops cover the grasses and flowers. It all looks beautiful to me. Tomorrow I may hate the rains, but today they are welcome.



IMG_3586Friday, October 16, 2015

My sister and I have the day off school. DLF calls at the back door to go see the goats. My mother and I follow him outside. When the goats come up close to him, he calls out in fear. My mother holds his hand and shows him how to pet them. He watches the goats nervously while he gently pinches their fur. Together we walk through the pasture and open the gate. I am off to the woods again.

Candle Dipping

Fall is here. It is still often sunny, but now it is much colder than it was a few weeks ago. Now we warm ourselves by our big woodstove, and wear several sweaters in the morning when we go outside for animal chores. In the garden, some of the flowers and vines are dying. The color is changing, and as the new season becomes more present our activities change as well. Last weekend, my family and I made candles from all of our old scraps of candle wax and beeswax crayons. We used only orange and yellow colored wax that made the candles a pretty honey cinnamon color. My mother created a hanging system that gave each candle enough time to cool before it was dipped again. This gave the candles a smooth look. I loved watching the candles grow fatter over time. They looked cloudy when they first came out of the hot wax and as they cooled, the color grew deeper. As a family, we made 16 candles. A side project my siblings and I also did something that we called “nature dipping”, where we dipped leaves and pine cones and a few other things that we found outside. We are thinking of using our “nature dippings” as autumn decorations and then fire starter later on.

Michaelmas

Today is Michaelmas, and for the past ten years I have celebrated it at my old school as a way to mark the changing season. Unfortunately, the festivities will be happening during the school day. Neither my sister nor I will be able to attend the annual Saint George and the Dragon play, the dragon bread baking, the games, or see all of our many friends that make up our community. Instead, my mother and I will be spending the morning preparing for our own Michaelmas celebration at home. It will not be the same as the one I have gone to for so many years, but I look foreword to the beautiful beeswax candles, our own dragon bread baking, setting the dinner table with our nice napkins, and hearing stories of today’s Michaelmas festival.

Michaelmas Days

Beauty said the butterfly

 Harvest pumpkins, oats, and rye

 Light our flames for darker days 

Foggy mornings, evening haze

Beauty said the migrant bird

It’s time to gather nuts and herbs 

The summer sun must bid farewell

Raindrops on the windowsill

Foggy mornings, evening haze

Cherish now our Michaelmas days

 

Fleeting Summer Days

Yesterday was the first day of school for my siblings. Our family rose early, ready to meet the challenge. We packed lunches, tended the goats, ate our breakfast, and rushed out the door. But, while the day proved to be enjoyable, I found myself worried at the end of it. I was frustrated at the impending loss of summer and afraid of the start of something new. My tears dampened the pillow as I cried myself to sleep.

This morning I awoke feeling sad. My mother left to drive my brother to school, so I was left alone, and unable to rise myself from my fog. I stationed myself on the couch under a blanket. It was not until some time after my mother had returned and I had read several truck books to DLF, that I remembered that I had promised my dad that I would pick some of our grapes today.

The grapes were perfectly ripe, a deep cloudy purple color, and they burst if you dropped them, spewing fourth their pale green guts and several large seeds. Not the most delicious, but definitely beautiful.

I could feel the sun on my shoulders, and the sticky grape juices on my lips and fingers. I could see my mother working nearby, and DLF munching on grapes and dreaming of tow trucks. The fog around me was rising.

We managed to pick two boxes of the purple grapes, but there are still quite a bit left. It looks like there will be a lot of grape juice in our future!

So, as the late-afternoon sun shines on the garden, I think back on a good day, and I am grateful for the sun, DLF’s enthusiasm, and to be home with my mother on one of these fleeting late-summer days. Oh, these fleeting late-summer days!

End of Summer 2015

There are exactly four days until my two siblings start school. That means four days left of summer. Well, really nine days for me since my school starts later, but it is hard to know if I should count those days, because I know it will be different with everyone else away.

Ending summer always gives me a bittersweet feeling. This year it is particularly bitter, but I am starting to come to terms with it. I wonder why it feels harder this year. Perhaps, it is because I am going to a new school this fall. Or perhaps, it is because this summer was especially peaceful and rich. So, as summer draws to a close, I enjoy looking back at it and thinking of all the things I have done: going on a family camping trip, picking pounds and pounds of blueberries, seeing various family members, spending hours outside in the sunny weather, observing the circle of life through our ducks, spending lots of time with my goats, cooking with my mother and sister, and playing with our DLF (Dear Little Friend or the toddler my mother watches).