weekly report

Weekly Report

Snow falling on cedars. Though I’ve not read the book or seen the movie, I think the phrase every time the snow falls. Snow fell on cedars. The snowy ground swells up and the heavy cedar branches drift down. It is unapologetically winter here and each luscious cold day is savoured. At the edge of the woods, the wind has sculpted the snowfall into hills and valleys, with drifts higher than our thighs, even with the boost of snowshoes. We pour the winter into ourselves because the snow cannot stay. “…we want more and more and then more of it.”

The chickens’ waterers freeze three times a day, even placed on heaters, but still the little chickens lay their eggs. What must be done. Seasons and bodies both keep their clockwork. On the coldest days, SooZee seems to be doing an impression of a rotisserie chicken, snuggled up so close to the heat lamp’s red light that her feathers look pink. The three “Wyandoodles” and little Turtle — the tiny black and white chicken with the green-shelled eggs — still leave eggs in their nests most days.

Lin, one of our oldest hens, died this week, not from the cold, but from the inevitability of death. She lived a good life here. On her first day with us, she rode shotgun with me, in a box marked “Linens and Mittens”. On her last, she sat in a row with Pedro and SooZee — after pecking Turtle in the head for trying to eat corn before her elders were finished. We did not have to euthanize Lin. She had trouble for a day or so, and then was dead in the morning. There is always a morning you don’t get to see. Fill the days in between with life.

A tiny bunny has started frequenting our yard. Going out around dawn one day, I startled it by the side of the house. A blur of brown bunny darted a few feet, and then decided to “play rock” instead of run. One of the three Fs of self-defence: flee, fight, feign rock. I moved to the outside of the path, and made a show of pointing my forward-facing predator eyes the other way. No rabbits, only rocks here.

On the other side of the house I found a bunny freeway between the dogwoods. A serpentine path of furry feet, stopping for nibbles, and leaving piles of scat. Retracing its path so thoroughly it looks like a trail left by snow snakes. In the dead of winter, bark is delicious. The dogwood can take it. In the warmest months, I’ve pruned it harder.

Tiny mouse tracks are everywhere. Popping out from their world under the snow for a sojourn topside — to run around a twig, and take the next tunnel back underground. I don’t know why that twig is special, but the mouse does. If it could tell me why this one and not that one, I would listen.

Junco tracks zigzag across the fresh blanket of snow, stitching it in place. The little birds are everywhere, their tracks covering the ground so completely you forget that’s not what newfallen snow looks like. My favourites though are when, on a quiet expanse of snow, there is a sudden flurry of feet, with nothing before or after them. Of course I remember, of course. Birds can fly.

“It has always been a happy thought to me that the creek runs on all night, new every minute, whether I wish it or know it or care, as a closed book on a shelf continues to whisper to itself its own inexhaustible tale.”

~Annie Dillard