The snow fell

The snow fell thickly through the air,

pellets of white pouring from the clouds,

it fell.

The snow landed on the trees, on the pickers,

on expectations, on hopes, on fears,

it landed.

The snow faded as quickly as it appeared,

melting into soil, nothing but a memory,

it faded.

Today a cloudy late October sky looked down and quietly, beautifully, compassionately, gave me a preview of what is to come…

and, despite myself,

I smiled.


House Cat, Boss Cat

The cat stared at me brazenly, green eyes wide open as I came in the house.  She sat next to her box and sniffed the air.  I smelled like a mixture of the outdoors (of rain mixed with snow, of apples freshly picked, of leaves crisping on the ground), and of the tractor (of exhaust fumes, of gasoline, of oil), and of the  human (of the cigarette smoke from the picker up in the tree next to me, of the meat that I ate at lunch, of just plain old human-ness), and she could sense it all.

“Kitty!  Hello!”

I reached out and scratched the top of her head.  She reached up and bopped me on the hand with a well-aimed furry white paw.

“Booj!  What are you doing?”  I stretch out my hand to pet her again.  She bops me again.

We engage in a battle…me trying to give her a friendly hello pet…she trying to tell me quite definitively that she is not currently interested in pets (especially from someone as smelly as me), and that furthermore, she is the house cat…which makes her the boss cat.

So get lost human.  Unless you have food.  Then give me some of that. 

Luckily, I am a human with a sense of humor.  So I just laugh and take off my boots.

At the top of the steps

The basement door creaked open.  I lugged my laundry to the top of the basement steps, rough cut boards propped in between a foundation built of stones – old farmhouse steps.  The insulated barn boots were lined up against the wall, name tags tucked inside, waiting for winter.  A spider web hung in the corner, waiting for a fly.  A mousetrap hung out under the steps, waiting for a rodent.

Meanwhile, a girl stood at the top of the steps, black mesh laundry bag in hand, battered old Nike mules falling apart on her feet.  She stood and listened as the rain pounded on the roof, and looked through the little square window where the rain drops slid down the pane.  There are few sounds as thrilling, as comforting, as the patter of rain on the roof.

So I listened…

and sent up a little prayer of gratitude.

Halloween Fun

The red smoke stacks of the ship rose up out of the quickly falling night.  The ship had once been a worker, ferrying railroad cars across the water, but now, in its retirement, it took to more leisurely tasks…

…like transforming into a haunted ship for the month of October.  So we paid it a visit, Jordan and I, adding ourselves to a line of people waiting to enter, standing in between the old tracks that used to hold the railroad cars.  Once inside, there are many twists and turns.  Pitch black tunnels that require us to feel our way out along the walls.  Rooms lit with strobe lights that confuse the senses.  People dressed in costumes popping out from behind tables, around corners, and behind doors.  Other haunted house goers…in various states.  One man confused in the dark tunnel:  “Wait, are we going backwards?”  Two girls screaming at each ghost and ghoul that happens to pop out in front of them.  One young boy, stopped along the way and not wanting to continue, shaking his head: “This place is not for me.”  Me, intending to touch the wall of a suddenly darkened tunnel, but instead finding my hand landing in the stiff hair of an actor’s wig:  “Oops!  Not the wall.”

There was a lot to see…and hear…and feel…inside that old retired ship…

and it was all just a little bit of Halloween fun.

The First Frost

The temperatures dipped to winter time levels last night, leaving a thin coat of frost on the farm for the first time since last winter.  I groaned when I looked out the window.  So it begins.  Winter is coming soon.  I have to go and warm up my car before I’ll be able to go to work.  Sigh. 

So I ate my breakfast, then slipped on my shoes and headed out the door, keys in hand.  As I ran across the frosted grass speckled with leaves, it glinted in the morning light, a glittering carpet for my hasty feet.

And as I ran to my car, my first thought was not about the cold…or the forebodingly sharp smell of winter that tinged the air…or how much I hate having to warm up my car before I go anywhere…

No, it was none of those things…

it was this:

Oh, wow!  It’s so beautiful! 

A sea of memories

The room was a sea of stuff, stuff, and more stuff.  I had left a pathway to walk through, but little else.  Summer camp music played over the speakers, and I sat on the floor amidst the sea of stuff, painting my nails a sparkling lavender.

I was cleaning out my closet…the nails were merely a sidetrack.  While cleaning out the overstuffed closet, I had unearthed a box of old fingernail polish.  I stopped painting my nails several years ago.  Most of the bottles in this box were bought when I was in middle school or high school…so they had been there for a while, hibernating on my closet floor.  When I opened the old shoebox and saw them there, I decided to see if any of the bottles were still good; hence the nail painting when I should have been organizing and boxing up.

That’s the fun part of cleaning out closets – finding old pieces of myself that I had forgotten.  Nail polish that I received at a friend’s birthday party in middle school.  A tin foil lake that I made back when I was in my “Christmas-crazy” phase in high school and decorated every inch of my bedroom, including my desk (which was converted into a winter wonderland that came complete with a lake for my glass snowman to ice skate on).  A college notebook with a poem about being down in the dumps smushed in between notes for a history class and lesson plans for an education class.  A picture of a super hero drawn in pencil, just for me, by a seventh grader in one of the classes that I taught.  Stuff, stuff, and more stuff, all with little bits of me tucked inside.

Today I sat on the floor amidst a sea of memories, and painted my nails a sparkling lavender.  Then I boxed up the memories and put them back in the closet.  I’m sure we will meet again, perhaps on some future rainy day.

On a Mission

I spotted the little beetle from my seat on the dark, wet log.  He was churning along through the mud, dodging rain drops the size of his head.  His back was bronze.  His legs were green.  He was on a mission, I knew not where.

It had been raining all day.  Everything was soggy and pools were forming at the bases of trees and in dips in the ground.  The little beetle should not have been out at all.  He climbed over a stick, lost his footing, and slipped.  He squirmed frantically on his back, half in a mud puddle.  His back was bronze.  His legs were green.  He was on a mission, I knew not where.

The little beetle righted himself and resumed his journey.  Rain drops fell all around him; beads of water landed with a thunk on his back.  A bright orange leaf lay in front of him, beautiful despite its soggy appearance.  But he did not stop to observe it; he just walked over it.  His back was bronze.  His legs were green.  He was on a mission, I knew not where.

As the little beetle got closer to my log, I began to wonder if I was his target, but he ignored me and my pink rubber boots.  He scrambled up to the bottom of the log, where the ground was shielded from the rain and slightly more dry, and began to burrow into the dirt. He burrowed down, letting the dirt cover his head, his back, his legs, until I could see him no more.  All that was left was a little hill of dirt with a tiny hint of bronze sticking through.

The little beetle’s back was bronze.  His legs were green.

He was on a mission to find better shelter from the rain…

and he found it.

An island of trampled grass

We are on an island of trampled grass surrounded by city.

There are runners everywhere, emblazoned in college colors.  They stand in groups, pep talking, chanting fight songs, praying.

…and then they run, in a large mass at first, but slowly spreading out – a long string of arms and legs trampling down the city park grass.  The spectators move from this spot to that.  The runners at the front have plenty of cheerleaders…the runners at the back have few, if any.  They came knowing that they would not win, but they smiled and ran anyway.

There is sweat, and pain, and breathing that comes too fast.  There are weeks, months, and years of work churning through this race.  There is jubilance…there is disappointment…there is perseverance.

As I stand here on this island of trampled grass…

I see it.  All of it.

These grape-stained hands

The sky was clear, but the trees were tall and the apples small, so the pickers slowed their pace.  Bereft of any boxes to pick up, I assigned myself a new task – clearing away the wild grape vines from three small apple trees that were becoming overgrown with them.

It was slow work…detangling, cutting, pulling, the long, clinging vines.  The vines were well-established, rising thick from the ground, dripping with blue-purple fruit, twining their fingers around the branches.  As I pulled, the grapes crushed in my hands, staining my fingers, my wrist, my gloves, my shirt.

I have trodden the wine press alone, and from the peoples there was no man with me.

It is unusually warm for October, and I am in a strange, contemplative mood.  I crawled under the overhanging branches and vines to the base of the tree, finding the roots of the vines and cutting away at them with my pruners.  Rootless, they would be easier to pull.

They divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.

It is unusually warm for October, and I am in a strange, contemplative mood.  I pulled at the vines, yanking in impatience when they refused to yield.  I removed them all, the young and the old, the short and the long, leaving the trees free from all burdens, no longer smothered.

Jesus cried out in a loud voice, saying “Eli, eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” 

There are some apples on the trees and on the ground around the trees that could not be harvested before because of the vines.  I grabbed a bucket to clean them up.  It is October, and I am on my knees beneath a tree, picking up stray apples with these grape-stained hands…

there is a sober thankfulness in my heart…

and I know that I am more blessed and more loved than I could ever deserve.

Note:  The bible verses are from Isaiah 63:3, Psalm 22:18, and Matthew 27:46, respectively.