They have arrived! One day early. The barn swallows. They are a welcome sight each spring. Almost always they come on the fifth or sixth of May. This year they started to move in on the fourth. I sometimes lie down on the hay in the utility area of the mow, and look at the sky through the window for a few minutes. It is a lovely moment for me. Suddenly I heard a thin high sound. Above my head a bird flew out of the window. It must have been in the mud walled nest they make in the rafters. A fluttering came from another of the nests. I saw a swallow fly towards a door I sometimes keep ajar. It was closed. It went back to the nest. Its all right I told them. You’ll have to get used to me. I’m here off times as well.
I’ve bought seeds for the vegetable garden. Again. The question is will I really do it. Some years I’ve started the gardens and not done them very well. One year the sheep got into them. Last year not much grew besides the winter squash and leaks. The garden is laid out in small rectangles bordered by stone paths and two long walks, each its full length. Edges of flowers, day lilies and Siberian Iris have spread into some of the areas designated for vegetables. They ask to be thinned out, but I’d rather spend digging time replacing the dirt in the smaller gardens with some of the composted manure that has been waiting by the carriage house for a year or two. To great interest I found that the radicchio that had been nipped to the ground by the goats had wintered over. Twelve of them. It is something to think about. It’s not the first time that I noticed it returning. Or rather, not dying. It may be something to be planned for. I had wanted to sell radicchio at one time, in addition to leaks and Cipollini onions. I buy leek and Cipollin seedlings from Texas and while the onions failed here miserably, my fault, the leeks have done very well. The onions’ demise can only be attributed to my unwillingness to follow the very specific directions that accompanied them. I shall buy them this season. They are pretty little onions, flat and red. The leeks are Lancelot. Fairly big and thick.
The fire has caught nicely in the living room. Its warmth has now extended as far as the chair in which I usually sit. My legs are beginning to thaw, my feet have not. Were this January rather than March I’d be properly grateful. But it’s not. Nor did any part of me ever thaw in January. It is raw. Rainy. Cold. I wore two sweaters, a scarf, headband and a lined jacket to the barn. And somehow gratitude is eluding one although I know that is a question which I must capture and put it in the fore front of my mind. It is the only way. Not to say I haven’t enjoyed many a July evening spent in front of the fire. My central complaint today however, it is that it is too reminiscent of January rather than July.
I just received a phone call that broke through on my static raggedy telephone line – static, always when it rains. The phone company tried to tell me it was my equipment until I bought three sets of everything new which didn’t help a thing. Anyway the caller wanted the two lambs he hadn’t put a deposit on when visiting two or three weeks ago and wanted me to deliver them for free to Margaretville. My trucker charges $75 to Andes as it is a very, very long trip for him although a very, very fun day. When I said no he said never mind and subsequently tried to convince me to lower my price instead. I continued to say no. He then called back to say he’d gotten someone to help him come up and get them, however would I lower my price because he is an artist and I am an artist and should understand about cash flow. I said I am a farmer and understand a great deal about cash flow and won’t lower a price because my hay mow doesn’t lower a price for me. A new breed of customer has been turning up on my farm. The kind of customer who wants a fifty pound lamb not having been fed grain and is less than fourteen weeks old. I’ve complained about this before. But to be asked to lower a price because I’m an artist is the most outlandish request of all. My late husband, a very long time ago, suddenly one day declared that he “decided” I was “an artist too” and gave me a beautiful tiny room in our apartment as a studio. That was the last time I was called an artist. Certainly never in conjunction with lowering the price of lamb.
Two robins, both males, both architects, have been examining my front porch this morning. They sit on it would seem the frame of an unused door and then fly up into a corner, stay in the corner for awhile and then fly away. Are they examining the possible site for a nest?
A room with sunlight and heat and a place to make coffee. A room that is clean and houses no animals of any kind and has no way in which anybody can find me.
The French use the dark heavy stems as well as the lovely succulent white parts. They tie them in bundles and put them in soup or stews. I bought three bunches of both. Supposedly there are 50-60 seedlings per bunch. Last year there were even more.
I’ve started weeding the currant bushes. They start new bushes, usually on their own when a branch bends down and its tip will root. There are some all the way into the lawn at the moment. A lot, as a matter of fact. I am giving some that made very nice little bushes to a friend. The gooseberries have done the same and there are two or three very pretty, very full ones to be given away. They all, when they are lucky and I am lucky, get a five gallon pail full of compost spread around them. They are very shallow rooters and like their fertilizer to wash in by the rain from the top rather than feed from below.
There was supposed to be help today on yard and garden work. He and his friend didn’t come. I don’t quite know how to handle it. As it is there was more than enough work for the two of them for a full day. Carry this. Carry that. Bring the floor boards that have sat waiting in the outdoor living room to the attic, just in case they ever shall be laid on the bathroom floor as was their reason for being some time ago. Rake the wood scraps from the lawn. Rake the gravel from the stone wall and put it on the place where the driveway meets the road to level it out. Bring the barn windows up to the house so they can be taken to Delhi Paint and Paper to be repaired. And. And. And.
We are at the edge of spring. Winter holds us in its hand and with great reluctance is letting go. Oh, we are not slipping through its fingers. Its grip was too strong this year of years. Memorable. Ghastly, as a matter of fact. It won’t let go leaving the house in the morning the same chill as January. But the days are longer and I can begin working in the gardens after chores. The light is beautiful, sun streaming through the white lace curtains. It does come. Spring, that is. And it all unfolds.
Until the next time.
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