Saturday, November 5, 2011


IN BIRDLAND THE FIELDS ARE SHORN OF CORN AND BEANS. The air is crisp and chill this morning and the sky is bright blue, and empty, save the puffy white stripes of the ghosts of trips above the prairie, crisscrossing towards Chicago, New York, San Diego, St. Louis, Atlanta, all from parts unknown. Ursula tugs at her leash as we walk toward the aviary to let the chickens loose below, to cluck and strut in the yard for the day. Perhaps a traveler will look down from the window in the sky to see us, tiny bugs crawling along my green patch of lawn. My dog is friendly with the chickens, but a little too rambunctious. Maybe someday they will run together, but not today. Tomorrow it will rain, but we don't realize that yet, and go right ahead and do the laundry and hang it out on the line. Who knows how much longer we can hang it without freezing our fingertips. We hang the first load, and then, what the heck, start a second load too, of towels and bedding. Sometimes we have a little too much confidence in our ability to finish a project.

We hang the first load,
and then--what the heck-- start
a second load, too.
 The harvest is in, but Jim and Sean are out in the fields again, the big tractors crawl across the stubble in the distance, pulling tanks of fertilizer. Farmers are always busy, like bees. I hang socks and jeans and dish towels, and they dance in the breeze while the tractors crisscross the fields, and the jet trails dissapate above. The mellow weather and the gentle wind make me feel optimistic, and I go to the basement to pull red tomatoes from the upside-down vines I hung under the stairs last week. They were green when I hung them, but they ripen one by one, so quickly that I have to make sauce every other day to keep up with the basement harvest. I use the lazy, crock pot method—quarter them and puree in a blender with half an onion and a clove of garlic, pour into a crock pot with herbs to slowly cook down to a thick sauce. If I weren't so lazy I would have jars of sauce lining my pantry shelf, but instead I pour it into plastic containers to freeze. Not as picturesque, but easy-peasy. The smell of tomato sauce fills the house and makes me think of pizza, so I start some bread dough, and then the rich, yeasty aroma adds to the party atmosphere. I get lonesome for my sister, so I call her. The next thing I know, I'm walking down the road toward the grass waterway, we chat about our plan to send cookies to the kids next week. Ursula tugs at her leash and I let her lead me, so involved in my plans that I don't notice when we turn into the waterway. Suddenly I see we are in the field, and my dog is rooting up fallen ears of golden corn from the stubble and husks. I pick up a few snaggle-tooth ears, trying to carry them in the crook of my arm as I juggle the dog leash and the phone. I find more—too many to carry back—I'll have to bring a sack next time. I'll toss these ears in the yard as a treat for the chickens, maybe shell some it for winter. It would look nice in a jar.

Chicken Dark

 I realize it is chicken-dark—that time of day when the chickens go in, and we turn back toward the house, going right across the field still talking with my sissy. If I hurry I can use the corn to lure the chickens back into the aviary for the night. Just yesterday we lost Michael's favorite chicken. I noticed she was missing and found a pile of light brown feathers under the apple tree where they like to roost. They go after the corn, and I count my feathered friends. I can never remember exactly how many we have, and anyway they're always moving, so I have to count like a chicken: Two roosters: check. Two barred rock, one little silver spangled: check. Only one :( light brown one left: check. Two white leghorns: check. Three French Hens (I don't know what they are, but that's what I call the three sisters): check. Yep. All there. I latch the door and let Ursula off leash. I make a fateful decision that I will regret in the morning, to leave the laundry hanging so Ursa can chase the frisbee in the darkening evening.

Count Beauty; Collect Peace; Blessed Be.

No comments:

Post a Comment