The weather is strange, but don’t complain

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It just doesn’t seem possible that so much water could fall from the sky, day after day after day. But it does. No sense complaining, but be thankful it is not snow. Be thankful it is not freezing rain.
The date is Jan. 15, and the thermometer reads 50 degrees. Having taken the measuring glass out of the rain gauge in the fall – so it wouldn’t freeze and break (no chance so far) – I have no idea what the total might be. Has to be at least 6 inches.
The pond had overflowed its banks and the pasture looks like Lake Erie or a rice paddy. I hardly recognize the two horses sloshing around out there.
I think one is an Appaloosa with a black-spotted rump, but for the moment he is all black/brown. The other is a mud-colored pony with matching mud-colored mane and tail.
Oh yes, I remember now: They are Apache and Toby. They don’t stay dry long enough for me to remove the mud, and it would be a waste of time anyhow because they’d just go out and roll in more. (At least when they roll in snow they’re clean!)
Anemic earthworms float in the puddles in the driveway. I remind myself that this is mid-January and the earthworms should be frozen under.
Snapdragons are still green at the base and I’m tempted to bring in forsythia to force. Too early.
Lisa is convinced spring has come, or that maybe summer has never left. In the wee hours she wails, thudding through the house, flipping and flopping, sounding like an elephant passing by. Silly dear old cat.
Feeling sorry for the deer who must negotiate new car dealerships, used car lots, building sites and a nearby seven-story monster hospital whose towering and invasive night lights eclipse the stars and moon, I’ve been putting out shelled corn for them.
From tracks in the driveway, I know other creatures are also enjoying the free lunch, but I wasn’t prepared for a mob of crows.
I heard a ruckus the other morning, and glancing out the front window I couldn’t believe my eyes: The entire front yard was literally black with cawing crows and more were flying in.
There was a huge solid mass of them at the spot where I’d put the corn, and apparently someone had spread the word because the newcomers kept trying to push their way into the crowd. And such a racket when I opened the door and they flew away. Since then, I’ve seen them on Southwoods but not the hundreds that were here.
Two weeks will pass before this is in print, and I’m wondering what the weather will be by then. We may be up to our ears in snow and the 50s temperatures will be long gone.
But the longer the furnace isn’t running and the longer I don’t have to shovel anything but the usual (in the barn!), I’ll not complain. (Jan. 16: snow showers, cold, getting colder!)
* * *
Many readers have been kind enough to inquire about my sister, Barbara, who suffered a massive stroke on Thanksgiving Day.
There is no good news, which is why I’ve not written that much about her. She is unable to swallow or eat, unable to talk – although she is trying to – and sometimes recognizes family and friends, sometimes not.
She sometimes responds to questions by nodding or shaking her head. Sometimes she does not respond at all. She has been moved from a stroke rehabilitation facility to a nursing home.
Her son and daughter-in-law are doing the best they can but have their hands full trying to go through her house to which she’ll never be able to return.
Since she has been gone, the oil furnace malfunctioned and spewed oily black dirt over everything. Joe and Marilyn have to wear masks when they go there to work and sort through an accumulation of 60 years.
Long ago Barbara and I agreed that whatever happened to either of us, we were not to go flying across the country – she lives in Massachusetts – because we’d be of no help and besides, we’d have had all our fun and conversation while we were “intact.”
I telephoned her every Saturday night at 7 o’clock for years and years. Sadly, her advancing age and the difficulties of air travel these days curtailed her annual summer visits here.
The only good news is that a cat-loving friend adopted her two beloved 12-year-old cats who naturally are having difficulty adjusting.
* * *
From puppyhood, Ori’s “place” was always on the rug under the kitchen table by the radiator. Sister would sometimes slide in on the end, but a curl of Ori’s lip let her know it was his place and she’d best move.
It has taken this long for her to realize she is now allowed to lie there, just as all my other wonderful dogs in 60 years did.
* * *
Surprise package in the mail from Hugh G. Earnhart of Poland, a professor emeritus in history at Youngstown State University from which he retired in 1996: his cookbook Eat Like a Thresherman – Recipes of a Farming Generation.
It took him five years to sort through over 1,000 recipes from his grandmother, mother and other beloved old-timers, and while I’ll not get into the recipes, a little later I’ll share his fascinating boyhood remembrances of threshing day at the Champaign County farm of his grandparents, William and Emma Pond. Wonderful, nostalgic reading.
Thank you, Hugh.

About the Author

A lifelong resident of the Mahoning Valley, Janie Jenkins retired in 1987 as a feature writer and columnist at the Youngstown Vindicator. In June of that same year, she started writing her column, "On My Mind" for Farm and Dairy. She loves all animals and is an accomplished equestrienne. Local history is also one of her loves, and her home, the former Southern Park Stables, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. More Stories by Janie Jenkins

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