Monday, December 20, 2010

Winter of Sorrow Anew

I feel passionate about a local school issue so I went to the school board meeting tonight.

Afterward, I talked with two of my high school classmates. We discussed the educational issue, but the underlying story is our bad economy.

'Timmy, I drive around New Ipswich all day and you wouldn't believe all of the foreclosure signs. The declining number of students say the same thing.'

Reflecting on our conversation makes me want to cry.

Last winter was a winter of sorrow for so many in our community and we're leading into another. So few have money enough to feed their families and keep their houses warm.

I remember my eldest aunt's life lesson, 'Always believe what the secretaries and the janitors tell you.'

The classmates that I spoke with tonight run our town's garbage collection service.

Our second winter of sorrow started on the shortest day of the year under gently falling snow.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Remembering the Ice Storm

Last weekend was difficult and now a few days past, I maybe understand why.

Two years and four days ago, I went to sleep during a lightning storm, losing power and cellphone service.

I wake to the sounds of shot guns blasting one after the other. Boom...echo. Boom! echo.

Confused, I stumble into my hallway and look outside to see a tree top explode and fall through crystalline ice branches and it ~thuds~! on the ground.

Boom! echo

Boom! echo

I put my hunting boots on over and tuck in the legs of my pajama bottoms. I slip on my blaze orange hunting jacket. I walk outside on my icy deck and crunchy ice-covered blades of grass.

Boom! echo

Boom! echo

'Huh.' I think, 'God gives us firewood.'

In the ensuing hours, I learn that all of my cars are damaged. I run the rescue shelter for the morning, because I am a warm body while all of the emergency management professionals are out helping the community.

My dad, uncle, and I spend over two hours with chain saws as we carve a single-lane path down my dirt road to the state highway.

Boom! echo

Boom! echo

I drive out of town, and dreadfully violate some of the most indelible guidelines from my childhood as my tires pass over one downed power line after the other.

Boom! echo

Boom! echo

Two years later, my body reminds me of the stress during the ice storm. Sleeping through the night in 30-degree temperatures in my house.

Moving to my parents for the winter.

Incredulously I am still amazed at how people from outside of my region downplayed the devastation.

Boom! echo

Boom! echo

My property remains littered with trees and branches that continue to fall from the treetops whenever a strong wind passes through New Hampshire.

Boom! echo

Boom! echo

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Runt Died

I sprinkle layer pellets in the runs near each coop, pour the 50 pounds of feed into the feed barrel, and open the egg door on the big coop.

I see Runt, dead, in the bedding.

'Huh, Runt died.' I say quietly to myself.

When she was 4 days old, the other chicks pecked her ear and made her bleed. I separated her so that she could heal. The other chicks didn't let her eat. She was at the bottom of the pecking order.

Months later I put her in with the flock, they all grew and produced eggs.

One severe winter, a mink taunted the flock from outside the fencing. The stronger chickens took the challenge and died. Runt and Whipped Cream, well, they had the courage of a chicken so they avoided the fracas.

They survived.

Runt slowly stopped laying eggs and occasionally produced a mini-egg the size of the tip of my thumb.

The farmer in me knew that she had to go, but my heart pushed the dreaded task to the bottom of my to do list.

Today, I look at her as she lay silently in the dirty bedding on the floor.

I walk down the hill to take my hoe from the fenced in garden. I walk back and use it to gently pull her into a shovel.

Her feet are nestled under her body, claws turned.

In the best way that God's creatures can, Runt died peacefully while roosting in her sleep.