March is certainly being March, at least in my area, where there is great bluster with huffing and puffing and white-outs one minute, benign sunshine the next.
On snow-flocked branches five male cardinals wait like scarlet beacons for their breakfast and the eye is drawn to them as to a magnet.
Two still-drowsy chipmunks just emerged from their winter sleep have a stare-down until one gives way and dashes into the pipe from the downspout.
Grackles and starlings, the avian rowdies, are back and perch in the ash tree like big black leaves. They no longer scatter at a rap on the window, flying only to a nearby thicket, and return before I can sit down at the table.
Apache and Toby come in from the pasture, their manes jeweled with snowflakes. Mostly they just want snacks and aren’t trying to avoid the weather, and it is impossible to refuse them, especially Toby who loves to hear the noise he makes pawing his gate.
He knows it will get a favorable response, but the problem is I can’t ignore him so he thinks he is being rewarded. Their spring checkup found both in good shape, according to veterinarian Doug Wiley, if a tad too fat. Better too fat than too thin, right? I can’t abide a ribby horse.
Remember the lame doe I told you about last column? She has returned several times to the same place, so I make sure there is corn for her.
She was only mildly lame the first time I saw her, but it is now obvious that the left front leg is broken and dangles uselessly below the knee.
I would guess she has been hit by a car, probably not long before I saw her lying beneath the maple tree. If there had been internal injuries they would have evidenced by this time.
She is careful to enter the jungle at a place where she need not jump, and the jungle is so thick she is quite safe in there.
A friend, whom I envy, has sometimes 18 deer come to his property and is acquainted with a three-legged deer that has been coming for two years, so it is possible for an injured one to survive.
I’ll keep this one well supplied with corn to keep up her strength. Now I have another animal to worry about!
I don’t put the corn out until evening so the crows and other birds don’t snitch it, but there is a problem: I check tracks in the morning when the corn is gone, and today there were plenty of tracks except they were rabbit tracks and there were no deer tracks.
I’ll keep trying though.
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From Rayner W. Hesse Jr.’s essay, We Thank You, God, For These Things, comes this lovely prayer: “O God, Creator of all things bright and beautiful, bless all living things around us, especially the animals that you have given into our care, that our interaction may be one of peace and harmony in living; help us learn from them, and they from us, about your purpose for this world; and may we remember that we are created from the same primal dust to which we all return.
“In life replete with challenges, a life of joy and sadness, of great gatherings and lonely places, surround us with the Spirit of mutual respect, one for the other, and make us companions along the way.”
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Even though the calendar will insist that spring is here and snowdrops are in bloom and crocus tips are up, the thought of spring cleaning doesn’t really turn me on.
And since outdoor work is, thankfully, still several weeks away, I indulge my pleasure of baking and my yearning for hot cross buns!
I’ve already gone through one batch – the recipe makes two dozen – and have just made the second. Most I shared with friends but at bedtime a cup of cocoa and a warm hot cross bun send me to the Land of Nod (anyone else remember the Land of Nod?) better than any pill.
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Already I dread this coming Sunday, March 11, because of the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade which assembles just one block south of me and proceeds north on Market Street which is just west of me.
It’s not just the noise, which is considerable but I can handle that, it is those who come to watch the parade and park all along Washington Boulevard, not caring about the boulevard itself which remains rutted all year, and certainly not caring about private property.
I have learned to put out a huge orange cone in the middle of my driveway, or they’d drive right in, and the Boardman Township road department, bless it, puts cones all along my frontage.
The guys tell me they dread the day as much or more than I do, and the mess that is left behind is unbelievable. I guess it’s unpatriotic or un-Irish or something to complain but I do it every year!
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Speaking of Boardman Township, this evening I am being recognized by the trustees who began a program this year for township residents, starting with “Artist of the Month” and requesting nominations.
That was so successful they introduced “Writer of the Month” and I’m sure my submitted Farm and Dairy columns were responsible for my being chosen.