“A man says a lot of things in summer that he doesn’t mean in winter.” -Patricia Briggs
There’s a well trodden path between my side door and the horse pasture where the girls (Raven and Lucy) mosey around, seemingly bored to tears during the winter months. I used to watch them from the kitchen table when I worked from home full-time: eat, drink from their trough, eat again, stand in the sun when it rose, lay on the warmed ground for no longer than 20 minutes, get up, shake it off, mosey to droppings area (yes, they’ve specified a section for this) and head back to the food, repeat. I’d become entranced by them in between words and meals, perhaps because my childhood of owning Raven consisted of paths to and from the boarding facilities we kept her at throughout the years. We both had made it home after 15 years together.
This path wears my footprint over and over and over again until the ground is its own mountainous valley. Though we’ve only been in our home for one winter – this being the second – I warned myself of the stamina it would take to make it through another winter caring for Raven and all of our animals. I am not ready for children but I do find myself thinking about my own little girl or boy during these frigid nights, watching me – mom – from the window as I hold our horse’s head still for the vet who is trying to snake a clear tube up her nose and into her gut because it’s New Year’s Day and it’s 9 degrees and she has colicked. Or taking his or her pruned red hands in mine and blowing into them to restore the blood flow after a trip to the chicken coop at 10 p.m. when it’s -15 degrees because that’s what time the chickens have decided to lay their eggs, and we’d better get them inside before they burst.
There’s something magical about plucking one lone egg from a subzero chicken coop at night. I’m not sure which hen it is that keeps laying – perhaps it’s all three of them taking turns – but the fact of the matter is that they keep on keeping on, despite this chilling spike of cold.
Later tonight, when we’ve woke from our accidental pre-bedtime slumber on the couch, in the warm cocoon of air that has pumped from our wood burning stove, one of us will flip on the lights, put the dogs out, check on the horses and perhaps change the chicken water once more because it’s surely frozen. Should Raven decide to ring in the New Year with another bout of gas trapped in her gut, there we will be – halogen lights on the deck, alarms set for every couple of hours once the vet has come and gone. The trodden path is one of love.
Keep on keeping on, readers.