Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Pre-Spring Not-So Blues

It isn’t officially Spring yet but don’t tell the flowers and bees, and amorous birds on wing. After a nasty start to February, the recent weeks have been so balmy and deliciously gentle. The sky has remained a powder blue with a few fluffy clouds drifting along pushed by a soft breeze from the south. The low angle of the sun keeps the shadows long and makes for dramatic scenery when it hits the still bare trees and brightly lights one side and keeps the back in a cold, dark contrast giving the horizon strong vertical lines of silvers and blacks
These easy weather days have made for good opportunity to get horses worked, though the ones still wearing their long furry coats are sweating a bit more than they want. I will probably clip the woolliest of them soon, and that will probably get the weather riled up again and cold, but I hope not.

I have been spending a lot of time ground working my soon to be four year old filly, Cistine and she is doing so well now, after surviving her bout with the circingle that slipped on her back and startled her a few weeks ago. She is now pretty confident on the lunge line and has just started working with my training trash. I noticed today that on one side she was wearing a plastic vodka bottle with a pebble inside, and on the other side I had hung a V8 juice. I just need to add a few more things to her wardrobe like a bottle of Worchestershire sauce, a pepper grinder, and some Tabasco and I will have the makings for a nice Bloody Mary. Or wait, if they are all empty, that means I already drank them.

After our work today I walked her down to the pond dam where the grass is bright green and enjoyed standing in the sunshine while she devoured the shoots of green. Her eyes blinked in a slow motion repeatedly, deeply calm and relaxed as she ripped the grasses and munched them away. I could fully empathize with her state of mind.

Yesterday as I headed to the barn I noticed my neighbor’s truck parked up at the top of the hill where our driveway cuts next to an old graveyard. Margerie had called earlier to ask permission to come look at the stones because the local historical group is trying to get all of the little abandoned cemeteries catalogued and noted. I changed my course and drove up the road to visit with them, giving the horses a few more moments to eat before working them.

We had first learned that there was a graveyard on our property when we were building the driveway and a gravel truck found one of the unmarked graves, sinking a front tire to its axel. After looking around we noticed many more indented places all running east and west on the crest of this hill. Few had stones to mark their names or the few facts of their lives gone by. The ones that remain are crudely hand scratched reminders of the names of the buried, lives over a century ago, that once shared a story of this land that we now are caretakers of. These are obviously not the graves of aristocrats.

Margerie, and her husband Davis, live down the road from us and own most of the many acres surrounding our farm. They both grew up in this area, she was the daughter of a dairy farming family, and he the son of a general all round farmer, who raised cattle, chickens, oats, corn, and whatever was needed to live on.

They know the history of this area well, but they also know the tales, the stories, the names, and the things that happened that won’t make it into a history book and which will soon be faded memories that will most likely die with them or perhaps linger a bit more by their sons hearing and remembering. We stood together over these graves and she jotted down the few inscriptions left and we talked and looked around, and I took in several stories about things that had happened on our property and of the lives of those that had been previous stewards of it. We talked about the spring that once flowed near our house that once watered the crops, and the people and livestock that lived here to work this land, in a very different time and way of life.

Early sign of spring are definitely happening now. The daffodils that grow around these graves are now in full bloom and I saw the first Trillium coming up there as well. When I walked past the now suddenly in bloom, Flowering Almond tree, yesterday, it was alive with the sound of thousands of busy bees hitting on the first bit of pollen they have seen in a long time, their legs bloated with yellow. There was a continuous drone of their collective buzzing wings that gave the tree a vibration that could be felt as well as heard.

The main harbingers of spring arrived in full force today though. The long awaited sound of a group of Purple Martins’ morning calls filled the air when I opened the front door this morning. There were three pairs flitting around all the houses and gourds, checking them all out. In and out they went, some showing preferences to the older gourds and others liking the new super large gourds we recently added to the colony pole. At one point a male flew to one of the gourds and stuck his feet inside the hole and pulled out another male. They fell towards the ground with the first male still holding onto the second, and finally he released the relocated martin before they hit the ground. I guess the wife of the first really wanted that one house, or else. I absolutely love to hear their lyrical songs and watch them in flight, and the fact that they return each year at this same time is simply magic. Their arrival really marks the beginning of the season for me and for all of the folks who raise a pole up to try to attract these flying nomads. Turn up your computer volume for a treat below.

There are not many things better than a fine day in pre-Spring listening to martins once again singing in the barn yard. Aaahhhh.

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