Before we went to bed, Todd told me Sunday would be a blue bird day. And he was right. And he was gone. Todd is already down the hill with Jack the dog to Jake’s, the convenience store next to the gas pumps, to buy the Sunday NY Times when I emerge from the sun splashed bedroom. The house is still, the living room is unusually dark, washed in murky yellows from the micro blinds pulled down on the two levels of windows, a small effort to hold in the heat. It’s cold outside. Now add in the wind and it is cold inside. The living room is 64, the kitchen is 60. I’d complain, but an early morning email from a good friend and nearby neighbor who’d sent out the snack schedule for our spinning group (that’s yarn spinning, not fat burning) started off by saying her house was 54 degrees. Shut up. I pull on a long blue green mohair and wool cardigan sweater, a 35 year old gift from a dear friend who knew I coveted that sweater, but who never knew I never wore it because I was never that cold. Until I moved to Vermont. The coffee is ready, thank you, Todd, but there’s no milk. Hot is hot and I pour a cup.
Jack leaps into the kitchen well ahead of Todd who not only has the paper, but a quart of milk. “Jacket is hanging off one of the ewes.” He says. “And they’re going to need hay.”
“One of the Cormo’s been limping since yesterday afternoon,” I add. Todd starts a fire.
With very few words we agree that heat, Sunday papers, and a cup of coffee must happen before we head up to deal with the barnyard issues. Todd gave me quilted Carhartt bib overalls for Christmas. Do not, for a single moment, knock this one. Okay, not sexy, but perfect and necessary. Add to that long underwear, top and bottom, a thick LL Bean turtleneck, a cashmere sweater I donated to the barn cause two years ago, a neck gator, lined barn coat, wool hat, fleece gloves worn inside a pair of felted mittens, wool socks, and, no kidding, bog boots lined with a sheepskin insole. I’ll skip naming the source.
Up in the barnyard, the hard wind is blowing bitter cold air and we both know, without words, herding the flock will be a pain in the ass. We’ve choreographed our success and failure enough to know that eventually we’ll get the sheep we need into the barn to check on the one that’s limping. Turns out I can’t find the limping Cormo, but Jewel has developed her own limp. Todd pushes her to the barn floor, I trim her hooves and try to find a problem. We decide to give her 5 cc’s of super duper antibiotic just to be safe. It takes Todd several minutes to fill the syringe – the stuff is normally thick – even more so in frigid temperatures. The errant jacket is a moot point since it has fallen away completely during the herding efforts. And it’s too wicked cold to dig up a replacement and put it on. Todd goes out to cinch a round bale of hale with the tractor while I top off the water on both sides, boys and girls. We walk back to the house under a wide bright sky and stinging winds.
The kitchen is still cold. I replace my outdoor layers with indoor layers. Todd cooks up pancakes from scratch. I microwave thick bacon and we pour our brand new homemade maple syrup over both. Fifty gallons of sap boils down to five quarts, and I’m mopping up all I can with a second helping of pancakes.
After breakfast, we layer up again to give the dog his turn. It’s a three mile hike from our house to the end of Wallace Road and back, mostly dirt road. Mostly sunny. A few streams. Few homes. The ground is frozen solid, but the snow is mostly melted. Jack roots out a stiff mouse and jogs along with his prize in his mouth, but loses it along the way. We talk some. Not much. What more do we need to do on our taxes? There’s a farm, next town over, whose flock will be sheared soon and I’d like to buy their fleece. Curling for Todd this evening, farmers market annual meeting for me. But mostly we share the walk with nature’s silence.