Time to Come In

It’s 7:45pm and very dusky and the Bearded One went for a walk an hour ago, seems like.  We work later and later these spring days, but he’s usually in by now.

Our dinner, fish and rice, is out of the oven and I just put a kefir cheesecake in fifteen minutes ago.  The house is beginning to smell sweet and custardy. I fed Ruby a couple of hours ago.  She hardly goes on the evening walk with him anymore, staying put and pretending to sleep.  She’s 12.

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I’m not a worrier, really.  The Bearded One is very careful.  He has survived in the Alaska bush.  We have safety protocols for our toothbrushes.  He can imagine the most outlandish possible catastrophes as only an experienced lawyer can.  So I’m not really worried, more just curious what has delayed him.

I step out onto the deck.  It takes a minute for my newly-bifocaled eyes to adjust to the dark as well as to the distance in the backyard.  It’s extra dark because of the new moon this week.  Venus is out, and I can’t read the temperature in the hoophouse any more.  I whistle.  Our standard “Where are you?” whistle.

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It is immediately returned, and I turn to locate the Bearded One clear in the back corner of the yard by the apple tree.  His hands have been in his pockets, and he’s been looking up, studying, but now he steps back and waves.

“Comin’!” he shouts, shoves his hands back into his pockets and starts the trek in.  Past all the tender young vulnerable baby plants in the gardens.

Past the new no-dig potato garden — layers of newspaper, compost, minerals and straw — we put together late last week, and I’m hoping is free of last year’s scab.

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Past the onion and garlic garden I planted just this afternoon, all just watered.  The ink is barely dry on the stakes identifying their date of birth.

When I was planting the little round onion sets, the Bearded One worked on the lower pasture goat toy, and we both listened from our side of the forest to the sheer intensity of the distant neighbor children — 5 years, 7 years, or 9 years of concentrated life — and their visiting friends whoop and scream.  An indignant 5-year-old voice, clearly reporting to an adult, rang out, “HE TRIED TO CUT OFF MY HEAD!”  The Bearded One and I looked at each other and both laughed.  We lost our heads years ago.

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Now the Bearded One opens the hoophouse, which is full of inch-tall, cool weather seedlings — radishes, broccoli, turnips, cabbage, kale and fava beans.  Every day and evening he patrols for slugs.  This morning he removed one trailblazing slug on the inside, halfway up the plastic.  I lined the beds with Diatomaceous Earth, the fossil flour that theoretically they can’t cross without dying later on.

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There’s a dark truth to spring, I think.  Young things everywhere are in jeopardy.  We try to protect them, but slugs get in.  And so do chickens.

The sweet pea teepee is still surrounded by a chicken wire fence initially installed to keep a temporary backyard chicken out of the slender, infant peas.  We adopted the young Amerucana Sweet Tart and for a month, while she healed from a dog wound, she roosted at one end of the hoophouse and had the run of the backyard.  It was quite idyllic.

Until she got through the hoophouse partition — I left it ajar — and scratched around in the seed beds, wiping out a section of turnips and broccoli.

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That night we put her up in the coop with the nine other hens and she has integrated beautifully.

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Now the sweet pea teepee chicken wire keeps Garfield out.

The Bearded One closes the hoophouse door and crosses the small lawn, which needs mowing again, but it rained all weekend.  It’s full-fledged dark when I open the deck gate and meet him.

“The apple tree,” I say, and smile.

“Every branch is in a different stage,” he says, serious and enchanted as a toddler.  “Some just barely budding, others goin’ gangbusters, leafin’ out.”

“Yep.”  I hug him, and hustle him safely inside.

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14 responses to “Time to Come In

  1. Like warm bread, reading your words.

  2. Christine Widman

    This morning I walked outside to the pungent fragrance of creosote bush. We have had rain and wild crazed wind and the creosote is in bloom. Combination: the desert smell of spring.
    Spring. New life sprouting and blooming and struggling toward the light.
    And then…” there is a dark truth to spring”…a startling ah yes astute observation….
    There you watch for slug damage.
    Here it’s javelina damage – especially in spring.
    A small herd of them uprooted and ate 4 young agaves we planted last year and that had really taken a growth leap toward maturity.
    The dark truth…those striving upward mysteriously beautiful agaves are gone now.
    The javelinas are fed.
    Still I wish I could find a substance to sprinkle on the ground around the young agave and red cane yuccas that would repel javelina munching.
    Sigh.
    So glad to hear that Sweet Tart is now part of your happy brood of hens.
    Big Hugs & I say goodbye with the enchanting image of the Bearded One apple blossom gazing,
    C

    • Thank you for the reminder of your javelinas, Christine. The javelinas will be fed, and the slugs will take their share…but not if I can help it! 🙂 Here’s to focusing on apple blossoms, even in the shadows. Love you.

  3. Awww so sweet! I love your relationship – you 2. And I, too, love the lines “There’s a dark truth to spring…Young things everywhere are in jeopardy.” – Pierr

  4. Thanks, Pierr. Hope your writing is going well. 🙂

  5. I LOVE this post 🙂 You two share a love that is palpable :). In our relationship it would be me staring at that apple tree in the dark :). We let our chooks out today for a bit of a romp. They are having a ball and we just have to figure out a way to make them go back into the coop tonight but we will face that bridge when we come to it ;). I love reading about your emerging spring as our autumn is starting to enfold us in her chilly arms. I love going to bed at night and NOT SWEATING! I love it! I love being able to light and tend Brunhilda and feel the warmth permeate down to my bones and the ambiance feeding my soul :). I hope your spring is unfurling inside you with all of it’s gorgeous mossy green possibilities :). Hugs from chilly Tasmania 🙂

    • Thanks, Fran! There is something about the apple tree that has captivated the Bearded One, and I’m learning to check there first if he’s missing. 🙂

      We attract our chickens back into the aviary with a pot of leftover oatmeal. It truly still works, they are like Pavlov’s dogs when they hear the clank of spoon on pot and can’t come fast enough. Maybe some variation could work at Serendipity…

      Autumn is actually my favorite season, and if I weren’t so soggy and sun-starved, I’d be envious…BUT, we had the woodstove going this weekend through all the rain and wind and spring chilliness. Could be autumn except for the blossoms instead of colorful leaves. Funny how our respective weathers aren’t so very different right now! Love you, and thanks, as always, for your wonderful comments. 🙂

      • I checked out the meaning of apple trees and in the Celtic system the symbolic Meaning of Apple Trees is…
        Love
        Truth
        Peace
        Beauty
        Honesty
        Romance
        Fertility
        Remembrance
        Celts recognized all of the features of the apple tree and viewed it as pleasing in every way. It was even a symbol of creativity (as well as creation) and was an emblem of art and poetry. The meaning of apple trees is also associated with virtue, and the tree (as well as the fruit) is a symbol of purity and motherhood.

        then you have good old Wikipedia (my bestie for quick info and pointing me in the right direction…)

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple_(symbolism)

        I would have never thought that the humble apple had been attributed with so much meaning but it has!

        Our Serendipity chooks went back into their coop last night all but 1. No idea where she is but hopefully she is up a tree somewhere and not inside a feral cat or shacked up with the 3 feral chooks forming a quorum! No thanks needed for my comments Christi, we twins need to share the contents of our minds :). Your posts always make me smile and are soul deep. Steve actually read your post aloud to me which he doesn’t usually do. I was eating breakfast (2 apples and a handful of almonds) and he read each word out to me so that I could feed both my body and my mind at the same time :). Seems like apples are a real symbol of our combined pathways at the moment 🙂 Hugs from Tassie and a combined love of autumn and it’s cooling deliciousness are something else that unite us 🙂

      • Have you ever read The Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan? The first chapter is about apples and is so good. They are very interesting fruits which don’t reproduce by seed true to form, if I’m saying that right. Sort of like us, I’d say. 🙂 I might just check that book out again…

      • Ditto…time to go hunting. I wonder if the library will have it?

  6. Here is a recipe for flick weed that might just light your fire…
    http://www.eatingniagara.com/2013/04/weed-wednesday-winter-cress-pie.html
    I just found it and thought of you…nothing like getting revenge on your weeds 😉

    • LOL Oh, my, I’m glad we still have a lot of it yet to weed! THANK YOU! This looks like an excellent use, in addition to throwing it over the fence to the chickens. We might as well enjoy some, too.

      • Don’t forget to make weed tea and REALLY get revenge. Put as much as you can into a 20 litre (er… I think thats 5 gallon?) bucket and top the bucket up with water. Those weeds stole nitrogen from the soil and it’s time for them to give it back! After a while they will stink to high heaven (anything stinky is soil heaven 😉 ) and you can use it watered down on your plants…may as well get some good use out of those thieving weeds! 😉

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