And Then You Remember Why

by Amy Martin (c)

Hardly a day goes by that don’t I wonder why I do this, or that I don’t worry that if another responsibility or expense is laid on me that I’ll just break to pieces. The Moonlady News community and other listservs, management of Earth Rhythms and all its projects, family and friends and on those seldom occasions that I have time, the writing.

So it was true insanity to take on all that and this land, too, even though logically it was right. Build our small rural retirement place while we’re young enough to enjoy it, and before all the good land parcels were taken and property values and building material costs skyrocketed out of reach.

Yet we were not convinced. There were moments of real regret, days of butt kicking and hand wringing and worry, worry, worry, about money mostly. Nothing drains your pocketbook like maintaining rural property. When things go wrong, they go wrong on a big scale.

Then you have a day like this that makes the long hours of work, the barely scraping by, all worthwhile.

The First Omen

Anytime we leave for Osage from Dallas, where we still live half the time, here’s usually some kind of surprise waiting for us. Are the neighbor’s cows wandering the place again? Marauding wild pigs? Fallen tree across the road?

When we last left Osage, we’d spread fresh dirt about the cabin and seeded part of a lawn-to-be in native buffalo and blue grama grass. Plantings were made and flowerbeds dug, finally surrounding it with a wimpy chickenmesh fence.

Yet we arrive to find that the feral pigs had not ravaged the fresh dirt, as they like to do. Birds had not eaten the expensive seeds, nor had they been washed away by rain. Surely the raccoons destroyed the flat of nursery plants we had forgotten to put up. But no!

While reveling in our good fortune, we looked down and noticed a most amazing thing. The undisputable imprint of a wild turkey foot! AND some smaller turkey feet beside it. A turkey family!

This was a bird bonanza, the grail of ground birds, the prize upon which our eyes had been set for years. Yet here it was, completely by accident, wild turkeys somewhere on our land. The tracks were headed south, toward our wild Back 40.

Clutches of turkeys are such a hoot. They wander meadows for seeds and bugs during day, and fly up into big trees at night to roost. Do not make a loud noise beneath a turkey tree. They scare easily and are big birds.

Storm Porn

We hear the phone ringing but just don’t care. We know it’s well-meaning friends and family letting us know that tornados are in the area. We’re on the balcony enjoying the show. When you live in a concrete cabin that can withstand objects thrown at 250 mph, you get cocky.

“Is that swirling?” I ask. A light fringe of cloud is being sucked upward, not fast, but definitely in a circular motion – a sure sign of a supercell storm that can become a tornado.

Beneath the storm looking up, we can only guess what we’re seeing. Are we beneath one of those towering cumulous clouds that bring thunderstorms torrents? Or is this a blanket of clouds, bringing in slow wet deluges

Hints arise as hail begins to fall. It takes a tall cloud to make hail, which needs distance to fall and accumulate ice. Now past the feathery leading edge, the storm feels dense, ominous, the weight of giant water-filled clouds pressing everything down. Bugs and birds are trapped low to the ground, zipping back and forth for one last meal.

Rain descends in sheets, rippled with denser currents of water and punctuated with great bursts of wind. We retreat to safer confines behind the glass storm doors, but are soon outside again, watching the storm rumble away to the northeast.

Redwing blackbirds, boldest of the birds, dart out to grab newly exposed seeds and bugs. Bossy cardinals soon follow, setting off a songbird feeding frenzy, much needed in this breeding season of spring.

We watch as another storm rolls across the eastern sky and beats the crap out of the next county over. Bold explosions of lightning fire the massive clouds a hot yellow-white, illuminating its tumultuous features.

A sharp whistling sound catches our attention, followed instantly by a cold wind, low to the ground. An updraft, the sign of a really large storm in the area. Though about 20 miles away, our storm porn is pulling from our land. It sucks all the pollen, dust and humidity out of the air, rendering an afternoon of polished brilliance.

The calls of the dickcissels in the north meadow shift from the strident proclamations of mating season, the sound track of spring, to the gossipy twitters of birds, curious to see who made it through the storm.

The last lingering haze is sucked away with another updraft wind, revealing a rainbow, seeming to arise from the neighbor’s field behind our barn, so close that its base appears as a huge, thick, vibrating light, its appearance one of the rewards of life on the edge.

May 7, 2008