Friday, January 23, 2009

the remains of the very snowy day

Out doing chores yesterday afternoon, I was faced with all the remains of the snow. There are still large areas of ground, roof, and deck that have large amounts of the white stuff, some of which is packed and hard, other spots which are still soft and surprisingly fluffy.

In between the white patches there are border areas of lacier white lying on top of cold, brown mud. A few areas are red mud mixed with white. Beyond the lacy areas is the bare ground, nothing but mud and wilted winter grass. Strewn helter-skelter across this vista are what I'm calling hoof packs. Many of them. Apparently, when horses are barefoot, as ours are, the snow packs into the hoof until it reaches a certain overstuffed point and then it simply pops out. That big clot of snow and earth has the perfectly formed hoof on one side, and brown on the other. They will be the last to melt, as they have now frozen hard as rocks.

I have to say it: as beautiful as the snow was, it is now the ugliest I have ever seen it here.

In an effort to find some lasting beauty, and to get rid of the manure and hoof packs I'd mucked, I trekked the wheelbarrow down the long path several times. The path hadn't melted, and the snow in the woods was still fairly pristine. It was a wonderland of animal tracks: deer, birds, the bobcat. Most had blurred a bit but were still quite visible. At every fence and gate I saw something which amazed me: the deer tracks would go right up to the obstacle and then reappear directly on the other side, as though they had walked up nose and nose with the fence or gate and then popped over as if on springs.

It occurred to me that each time I went up and down the path, it got harder and slicker. And then I remembered the best time of sledding I ever had, when I was 12 and a neighbor packed down our road from top to bottom with his 4-wheel drive jeep. We had two weeks off from school, we had good sleds, a bonfire, treats at every house along the way, and a sledding track that seemed to go on forever, with curves and a few dangers (our creek was one of them) to avoid.

I called my daughter, who was in the barnyard giving sled rides to the Mystical Kit and Dickens. She brought her sled to the path and down she went. Had we thought of this the day of the snow, we could have something akin to those luge courses I used to watch on Saturday afternoons on TV. She convinced me to take a turn and down I went, laughing and shrieking. When I emerged back up at the barnyard all the horses and donkeys were looking, ears pricked. Salina especially was riveted on me. I've seen her run with the donkeys, moments when she is with them, but recalling something from her youth, a long stride, the pleasure of movement, a buck and a head toss thrown into the mix. She understands, I suspect, the pure unbridled joy of an experience from childhood, shared with one's child of close to the same age.

When we finished the last of the barn chores, a bit before sunset, the geldings came in from the field where they'd been playing. There was 5-year old Cody, the 8-year old pony Apache Moon, and 19-year old Keil Bay. Who do you think had the muddy legs up above the knees? I guess all of us middle-agers found some fun yesterday, even in the melting mess of snow and mud.


Grey Horse Matters said...

It's so much fun sometimes to revisit our childhoods and do something unexpected that used to give us joy. I'll occasionally do that now(with my 3 yr. old granddaughter) and she just thinks her and grandma are having fun. I'm afraid though, if someone else saw us dancing around or whatever, they would think the poor old lady has gone crazy.
Seriously, glad you had fun you should enjoy sledding a few more times before it melts and how about a snowman!

billie said...

Arlene, I would venture it's even MORE fun when it's your granddaughter! I think Frosty the Snowman made it too sad for me - the building and watching them melt away, but my daughter did make a series of snow angels yesterday which were fun to watch shift form as the sun sailed across the sky.

the7msn said...

Now that's what I call making lemonade. Who would have thought your neck of the woods would have that much snow? And the countdown to spring continues.

billie said...

We get a big one every few years. It's interesting that the weather this year resembles the weather I remember as a child, and what my parents have described from their own childhoods. A return to the norm, so to speak.

Victoria Cummings said...

I'm glad you got to enjoy the snow. We've got those hoof packs too. I don't pick their feet out until I put them in the barn at night because I think that pack helps keep their soles warmer on the snow and ice. I'll bet you've got ice now - We're slipping and sliding as it warms up in the day and then drops down below freezing at night. Yesterday afternoon, I used a rake and a shovel to make the thawing ice spots rough so they wouldn't be so dangerous this morning. I'm happy to say it worked.

billie said...

Actually, it's almost gone. After yesterday's rise into the mid-fifties, last night's low of 45, it has mostly melted.

We had one area of ice that formed outside one end of the barn due to someone who shall remain nameless dumping water there.

That was enough to convince me I do NOT want to live in a more northern climate. I don't know how any of you make it through the winter! And now I understand why so many folks who have big show-type barns have places down south as well, although the mere thought of transporting horses twice a year is beyond me too.