Life has more than usual these past two weeks been dominated by capricious weather.
The last days of January saw the melting of the deep snow--at first slowly, a softening and settling of drifts and plowed back heaps; then as the temperature climbed, mud appeared, the grassy verges of the lane went squelchy.
I wore my boots to trek to the mailbox or on errands to the lower house.
Willis toiled behind me, avoiding the mud with distaste.
Remaining swaths of snow became dingy, grainy.
I picked my way along the garden strips where I planted out foxglove and clary as well as nursery grown plugs of phlox and achillea late in the season.
A few of the plants are visible though frost-seared while others seem to have vanished.
Beneath a tangle of dead brown stems both lemon balm and catnip present a tight mound of ground-hugging fresh growth.
A day of brilliant sunshine and azure skies gave way to high winds.
Rain came on, pounding heavy rain, melting the last remnants of snow, filling the small gullies, spilling over into walkways,.
The brook that edges the lane often dries to a mere trickle.
During the past week it has swelled to a noisy rush of water.
A few yards beyond our mailbox the gravely verge of the roadside wears a pattern like the scales of an enormous fish or some prehistoric reptile.
A neighbor's geese trundle up the road, gabbling noisily.
Rain and wind subsided and cold crept in, bringing frosty mornings.
Rising sun strikes gold fire against the wooded slope.
Near the mailbox, wild daffodils, so recently buried beneath 16 inches of snow, have poked up
Contrails criss-cross the morning sky.
Nellie dashes out into the crisp morning, then finds a sunny spot on the steep slope behind the retaining wall.
Jim badly strained his back on Monday, moving and stacking the heavy green oak planks he brought down from the Amish sawmill.
He has spent several days huddled wretchedly in a corner of the leather sofa, TV remote in hand, enduring pain and [of course] refusing to see a doctor.
His injury leaves me as the chief [and only] fire tender.
We burn mostly 'slab wood' during the day.
I pile that in the sturdy 4-wheeled cart and haul it from the barn into the wash room which adjoins the kitchen. The big 'chunks' which sustain the fire at night are stacked on the front porch.
I can carry only one at a time to keep in readiness beside the stove.
Edward sometimes develops an interest in a particular piece of wood and claims it as his own.
The hearthrug is likewise beloved of the cats.
The days have segued one into another, snow-cold, uneasily warm 'weather-breeders,' sunshine, wind, rain, clouds.
Meals must be prepared, laundry done, the cats fed, their litter boxes changed.
I tend fires, work on a quilt, sit down to read or write and find my mind has gone fuzzy.
I fetch and carry for my ailing husband, impatient with his stubborn insistence that his injuries will heal without medical intervention.
I cherish unexpected joys: this morning I was allowed to hold a very new baby goat who nuzzled and snuggled while I admired up close her soft drooping ears and tiny hooves.
This afternoon a shiny late-model pickup drew alongside the front porch; the youngest son of the former owners of our farm had come to call with his wife and two little daughters.
[They are no longer following the Amish way of life.]
They were interested to see the changes we have made to the house; we felt honored that they included us in the round of visits to their old neighborhood.
A bit later our friends from up the road appeared bringing a whole meal--lasagna hot from the oven, a salad, dessert.
[After a break from my composition.]
I was 'allowed' to administer massage therapy to the ailing one's shoulder.
I have applied heat packs, handed out two naproxin tablets and a large glass of water.
I have made stern noises about the mule-headedness of those who are too 'macho' to see a physician.
We shall see where this leads!
I have loaded the stove with several hefty logs and in a few minutes will close the drafts so that the fire will keep overnight.