Spring walloped me upside the head. All I wanted to do was lie down and sleep. I was tapped out by the bright washed beauty springing out of the fingers of trees and unfolding tulips, all red, bloodstains in our yard, marking where the propane tank stood. Even sleep didn’t come. I sat in a blur on the couch. And remembered how it was when I was a young girl, how the month of May, when everything bloomed, laid on me, a heavy weight I could barely lift, and I wanted to escape into the house, put lath and plaster between myself and the bright sun, bright green, shiny dandelions pushing against me. I wanted to sleep then. I want to sleep now.
I have no idea how I’ll cope with Kingdom come where there is no night, just Jesus at the center of the City lighting everything up. I hide in the night, looking at the stars, in awe of the Milky Way, wondering about all that distance, about the worlds out there, about eternity. In some ways aren’t we looking at forever when we look up? When Jesus ascended to heaven, he took his body that ate and drank, that people could touch with him. He sits at the right hand of God, outside of time, in that same body, a man’s body.
I prefer rainy and snowy days because I don’t feel guilty for being inside, though snowy days can make chores so much work, there isn’t much left of the day by the time I sit down to read or write. Sometimes on beautiful, sunny days I feel lost, I feel I’ve chosen wrong, for having chosen to stay inside.
I wish I was joyous as a dandelion, but I’m not. I have been sleep deprived since November, not respecting that the dog’s growls will wake me up at first light when I stay up. I am so comfortable on the couch, it’s hard to turn off the screens, walk upstairs to the work of sleep.
I’ve been trying to go to bed the same time Bruce does, who does respect how fast morning comes. Like him I need those hours and for the first time in months I feel good, with energy brimming. I don’t like to hear him stop breathing. I shift my position to nudge him back to breath.
When Bruce left for his sleep study, it was like I was there with him, electrodes pinned to my body, I laid on one side, then the next, felt the emptiness next to me, and the presence of the dogs by the bedside. I did not drop into any kind of deep sleep. When he returned home at 6 am, I was glad to see him and stretched out on a couch for a couple hours. I could have slept off the whole day.
The Tail End of May
The leaves have spread into their normal size. The corn is ankle high and the wheat is heading out. The terrible change of early spring has settled into steady growing.
We just baled our hay. We grabbed a few straight days of sun, and held our breaths when we saw a massive rainstorm dropping down out of Wisconsin, the second day our hay was cut. That kind of rain could damage it. But the weather fizzled when it got to the state line.
High pressure systems, along with dry hot weather can suck up the rain, so it can’t fall. Several times during haying, we’ve watched storms die when they hit the Mississippi. Tropical Storm Alberto did us a favor by setting up the weak high pressure ridge that gave us good hot days and this window to get it put up, right on time.
It’s been a year rich with Bobolinks and Meadowlarks. A friend writes down bird sightings, collecting the rare ones, noting the date. Since we put up bird feeders, I’ve been watching for birds to come and stopped when I saw a Bobolink sitting on a fence post, with a yellow cap and white stripes along the feathers, with a song that sounds like a computer singing, if one could raise its voice in joy. I thought of those birds when we mowed down the hay, the holocaust of wrecked nests. Little Dog found a carcass, dropped and rolled, when I let the dogs run through the field, loose. To see them lean into their run, full tilt, away from me, back to me (I have treats) is an exercise in joy. The self rinse shampoo did not take the smell. You stink, I said.
That evening I took pictures of the moon rising between the shed and the barn, then settled in to watch TV. Since retiring I have looked forward to my shows, to the opportunity to unwind and forget in front of someone else’s imagination and/or drama. Sometimes I fall into the most delicious sleeps.
Bruce said, “Look!” He pointed to a coyote trotting up our driveway and across our front yard. She was a nursing female. I ran out and saw her drop into the field behind the garden and the chicken yard. (We are keeping most of our chickens behind the fence because Bruce is tired their digging in his garden and the flower beds, though one day I will release them to eat maggots in the manure and keep down the fly population.) The coyote was swinging back toward the barn, but I stood in the gate that takes a tractor from our yard to the field and took her picture. She trotted away.
We found two scatters of chicken feathers. One by the corn crib. Bruce thought the coyote had eaten her quickly but it seems to me, it takes time for a predator to get through the feathers to the meat. I thought the hen might have jumped into the corn crib, where a coyote can’t follow. Later she reappeared without tail feathers and Bruce and I both were pleased she survived.
I know the coyote is just a predator, a creature living in God’s good earth, trying to feed her pups. But ever since we moved here, coyotes have felt like something else, other worldly, intruding, a trickster. Their calls when trains sing the rails sound like dogs in pain. I want to call them home, comfort them. Their call when they’ve made a catch shakes the air. I shudder. Bruce and I both wonder how our feral cat Onyx survived in the hay field the summer before he moved up to the barn. When we first moved here, neighbors drove their pick ups and waited along the roads, hunting coyotes. I shuddered then too. But a bullet is cleaner for the environment than poison. Cattlemen have said a coyote will distract the momma, while another drags the baby under the fence. I wonder if they reflect us back to ourselves seeing as we’re both predators. The chickens are no more safe with us than they are with the coyote, except for the fact they keep the flies away, are like the farm’s accessories, their orange feathers, adding color like flowers to our yard. They have become pets. When I move the chickens from Tessie’s stall to the other room I can lock up, they screech. They know this too.
That night I didn’t try to wash off Little Dog’s dead stink. I was already too tired, and wanted sleep, despite the cold, liquid smell. I wanted to sleep, to smell mortality, the diminishment that is coming.
I woke up this morning to the big barn door pushed off its track, Morgen shoving her bottom against the door, swinging it way out. Itching season has arrived. I yelled at her to STOP. ITt. I got dressed, sorry to leave Bruce’s heavy breathing, a decent slumber, born of two hours awake in the middle of the night. I went out hoping I could push the door back in place. I’ve done that before—been able to lift it and slide it back. But not so this morning. I told Morgen what I thought. She looked at me with pricked ears. Tessie cocked her leg and waited.
Are we going to have to call our stout neighbors to help us lift it back on track? Or worse the expert shed door repairmen—Steve and Andy, who fixed our jammed shed door?
When Bruce came out he told me to clean the barn. (Maybe he didn’t want me to see his magic?) I put the mares’ grazing muzzles on and lead them out to the pasture to get them out of the way. With the smell of fresh grass, hay doesn’t appeal like it does in the winter.
I’ve kept them off pasture since we planted orchard grass. It quickly became a hay field. I’ve been warned that pasture can make them even fatter, but keeping them in these paddocks with just hay and the nubbins of grass that grow up through the ag lime seems to make them even fatter. At least for an hour they can be together and get some space. When I let them loose they both cantered up to the single strand of electric wire that has no charge. Trouble. They’re still looking for trouble.
As I was cleaning Tessie’s stall, I heard the sound of the big barn door moving across the rails. Bruce had fixed it. How did you do that? “I used a pick ax to clean around it. And sprayed some white grease on the rollers. Used a long stick to line them up right and put it back in place.” I kissed his cheek because it still seemed like a miracle to me—how he got that door back in place. He said his co-worker Kevin used to call him clever. Clever Bruce. But I think he’s brilliant, the way he can figure stuff out.
I think about doors, their being open isn’t always a good thing, how they can break, being shoved off the rails, and it takes a clever man to set it back on its rails, even if it’s as massive as a big barn door, the kind that opens wide enough to accept hay racks.
More Early June
For weeks now I’ve been writing in my Productivity Planner about how I’d like to get away from my screens—Phone and TV and get started with my day. I have suspected that the brain fog that I suffer from comes from the see saw of emotions from FB. One minute you’re reduced to tears because a good friend’s dog died. The next your mind’s wheels are spinning because you want to argue with a post that your better side urges you to ignore. It numbs me. But I also hear how I want to read something as badly as I want a tall glass of iced tea first thing to rehydrate.
Morgen’s opening the door the wrong way, gave me this gift—of getting up and getting going so there is time to write, to do other things, instead of being mesmerized by my phone and the TV, so I can feel what it’s like open up morning hours to write, because those are my best hours and leave the writing (I’ve done some reading this am, but it hasn’t taken over) to do other things.
Bruce and I read out of Shane Claiborne’s Common Prayer this morning for something different and this morning Bruce prayed for people on our minds. For the very first time, he prayed out loud, just listing names. Simply. Lord hear our prayer.
What has the arrival of spring been like for you?
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