The New House
The golden light playing across the old bent oak trees. A small peaked house, out of the storybook it seems. A gray stone path leads to a brown wooden gate, through it, and to the yellow house. The warm, caressing breeze causes the trees above to drop fall colored leaves. A forest green barn with a big sliding door, red and white, faces the narrow road. Inside the barn, there are two carpeted room, both are tiny. The dust covered tools lay to one side, a workbench as well. Wooden stairs lead up to an empty attic, with a door that opens into thin air. It is bolted shut. A real sliding door, like in old farm books, opens to a covered area with a few stalls and cobwebs, obviously not used in a few years. Back a few paces is there is another sliding door, also red and white, that leads outside. Further in, the stalls open up to a corral, small in size. A authentic metal gate is open. You ride in the back of a truck which goes up a hill. Wild to explore the seven acre property, you rush ahead, jumping out of the white truck. Envy fills you as the rocky dirt path slopes down and thick manzanita trees with their mint green leaves lace the path. A large pinetree casts many shadows on the ground, leaving it cool. Giddily, you run ahead, coming to a fork in the path. You take the higher road, your legs pumping with energy. Fresh air fills your lungs, a breeze ruffles by. Stopping, someone spots a deer, light and nimble. She paused, her big ears stock still. A twig snapping startles her, and away she bounces, light as a feather and as bouncy as a spring. Over a large dip she bounds, like a robin. Tall trees canopy the dip, golden brown leaves cover the ground. It turns to gold as the light plays through it. Power surges through your legs as you run ahead, legs pounding up the the rising ground, to the top of the property. Dead weeds and shoots of green grass whisper past your sneakers. Breathless, you reach the top, heart pounding wildly with the sudden sprint. Turning around, you gaze around the area, as dry as a burnt twig. Wishing it were greener, you mournfully pluck thorns out of your pants. Brushing away the sadness, you think about the beauty of the setting sun against the golden and red fall trees and the purple-pink mountains. Soon, everyone catches up to you. After a while you return back to the fairy tale like house. The house, bordered by old rocks and birdhouses, looks large as you approach eagerly. The house is under construction, so you ignore the buckets of paint and chips of wood, taking in the bigger picture. Nothing catches your immediate attention on the first floor, so you scale the narrow winding stairs to the second story. A hallway stretches ten feet or so. After a few excited steps, a bathroom appears on your left and a bedroom on the right. Two white steps lead up the bedroom with white paint. The roof slopes to the floor, making it smaller than expected. Across the room, an almost floor-level window looks out to the road and right side of the front yard. Another smaller window looks out to the stone path and the left side of the front yard. A closet is also in the room. Going out from the white bedroom, you take two more steps and come to a smaller bedroom with wooden walls that also has a roof touching the floor. A window looks out the barn and stone path. On the left side a screen door opens out onto the roof. After walking out on the roof and thoroughly scaring your mom, you get off. Going to bed that night, you think of all the wonderful things you saw that day.
Your heart leaps when the aging man asks if you want to go see the calves. You gaze out over 600 acres of green pastures and bright cattle. The air is cold and you stuff your hands into your pockets. He beckons over to a green gator tractor and tells you to get in the back. You willingly obey, allowing the adult with you to sit in the comfortable front. The engine revs and you bump along. You feel like a real hick, in your boots and sweatshirt.
You gaze at the passing cattle and horses as you bump down between rows of giant pastures. You are jolted around, but happy, as the man explains all of the hay equipment and giant, majestic tractors. The sky is blue above you and you take a deep breath of country air. He turns away from the tractors and drives quickly to the pasture. The lady in the front hops out and moves a floppy barbed wire fence. She hops back in and you drive over lush green grass into the pasture.
The first thing you see is the calves. A small one, maybe just above your knee peers curiously at you from behind its bulky mother. She seems unconcerned. Then you see the other ones. They lie laid out in the grass like giant scraps of leather. You ride up close to them and a dark, velvety one looks up. Its wide ears watch you intently, its placid brown eyes blinking softly. It is softness and innocence in its purest form. It thrusts out front legs and lies upright, tiredly, softly in the deep green grass. It seems like paradise. Then, it is up, and it ambles to its mother to guzzle down warm milk.
There are lots of calves, sweet and milky smelling. Their mother moo when they stray to far, but there is no need. They are safe in the beautiful meadow. The cows are all different colors; black, red, white, a mixture. They are soft and wise looking. Undisturbed by your intrusion. The calves are more curious and stare at you with wide eyes. You step slowly out and run your hand over the hide of a red and white cow. She has small horns and her coat is thick and soft. She gives you a long look, and then returns to grazing. You stroke her slowly and then leave her reluctantly.
You see the bull. He is a great bulk of flesh, muscle, and black fur. He is majestic and slow, yet a calf lies at his feet. It is the lion and the lamb. He swings his huge, dark head toward you. He watches you intently as you bump past him. His shoulders are huge and powerful, his flank ripped with muscle, but a gentleness in his eyes. This is an animal to respect.
Then you have to say goodbye. You watch as you bump away from the slow, warm cattle. You watch them, wishing with all your heart that you could stay in this paradise. Soon, they fade away into black, red, and white specks on the rolling hills.
You step out of the warm truck pulling the dirty white trailer. You rub your hands in the cold and step forward. You shake hands with a greying man, fill out a yellow sheet of paper, and turn to follow him into the barn.
The barn smells of warm hay and animals. On one side, cows bustle to try to get to the feed and out of the pasture. They stand beneath an over hang, ready to turn and leave at a whim. You feel like a stranger here, interrupting their placid day. They roll their deep, dark, large eyes and twitch their giant velvety ears. You turn and look in front of you. A calf. She is a deep red and her eyes are big. Large dishes of ears track your every move. Who are you? Why was she put in this strange stall? What are you going to do to her?
She is just taller than your waist, her upraised head to you shoulder. You slowly reach out a hand and she sniffs it. With a bellow, she turns away. You step back. Her eyes roll with fear and then the man is in her stall. He speaks to her in his deep, rolling voice. “Aye, girl. It’s alright. I know they’re strangers. Calm. Calm. I know they’re strangers.” She looks at him with deep confused eyes. Then she looks at you.
He slips a halter around her head and leads her out of the stall. When she is next to you, he encourages you to touch her. You reach out your hand, but she bellows and swings her body away from you in a wild panic. You step back and watch the man struggle to contain her. When she is done galloping in circles, he lashes her halter to a pole. He tells you to come again. You step forward carefully. You gently stroke her head. It is velvet and soft. She is breathing hard and you mumble a few words to reassure her. Then, she is whisked into the trailer with much thumping and you peer in at her brown eyes. She looks back. You know she is going to turn out just fine.
Up on the shelf sits a box. Clear with a white lid. Inside is everything you could need. Iodine, thermometer, gloves…etc. Dust has gathered over it. The excitement and anticipation has faded away. In sharpied letters are the words “Lambing box”. Towels are curled on the lid. Remember the long nights and chewed down nails. Googled pictures and “just making sures.” Strokes and gentle kisses with grain. Notebooks full of names and worn pencils. Colored pictures. Dreams of new life. Lambs frolicking in your heart. Feeling kicks and petting bellies. Vet checks and smiles. Walking and sleeping.
New life. Excitement. Love. Gentleness. Names picked. Videos taken. Cuddles given.
Growing up, bounces stronger. Fluffy coats. Stronger baas.
Ear tags. Signed papers. Crates full of lambs.
Set the box away and wait for next time.
I wish I could paint. This would be a beautiful painting.
You stand in the horse pasture, heavy things on your mind. You think nothing of the sky or setting sun above you, but suddenly, out of the corner of your eye, you see a shadow. You raise your gaze to the sky. A silent figure glides toward you; a bird. Its wings are stretched in a kingly elegance and in the fading light you believe it is a simple raven. But it isn’t. You soon realize this as it flies closer, mighty wings spread. Gold markings begin to show and feathers ruffle in the last breath of day. It turns its head and extends its talons. They gleam silver and gold. It flaps once and alights on a dark branch. The tree quivers under its weight. White feathers over its belly are mussed elegantly. Its huge yellow feet clamp onto the branch and you know. It is a hawk; a falcon; an eagle of the sky.
It shifts its weight so that it is facing you. Deep, wise, wild eyes fix with yours. Its golden beak gleams dully in the last light. You stand for a moment that might of well been an hour; or five minutes. It leans forward, eyes glinting. You sit down, not breaking the gaze. Its white and gold feathers shine. Suddenly, it opens its beak and it speaks. Its voice is rough and rumbly, like someone who knows the world’s secrets. It is wise and wild, a child of the sky and a golden piece of wind.
Your breath catches when you hear its cry. Something stirs in you so that you can almost hear what it is saying. Its words are in your heart. You reply with two simple words. You dip your head in respect. “Greetings…friend” The hawk seems to nod. Its wise eyes are almost astonished. You have spoken and it has understood.
You feel as if you could flap your arms and leap into the sky. Able to soar. Your heart becomes wild like the bird’s. It cries again, its harsh and free voice carrying over the wind. When you speak, you feel as if you have the courage and wisdom of a thousand heroes in the old tales. Two words run through your head as you try to think of what to say. Golden thoughts, wild, free, those are the words you whisper. They describe the hawk. A piece of the wind and the wild. Dangerous yet gentle. Something ancient. Golden sunsets and soaring hearts. You stand and speak clearly. “What news” The hawk gives you one last look and without answering, turns. Its eyes look to the sky and it leaps into the air. Its wings propel it forward and it glides. Its eyes are on the horizon. It soars on the sky roads, going somewhere, and you don’t know if you will see it again. As it passes behind a tree, you run to see it again. But it is gone. Only a memory, already fading, keeps it in your heart.
There is something magical…and wild about mornings after a mist. Dew hangs on every leaf, every blade of grass. The water hangs in glowing diamonds from the corral and drips peacefully from the barn. The rising sun casts its silver over the world, turning it into a glittering gem. As the trees rustle their leaves and welcome the morning, a mystical, unheard music sweeps over life. The water in the water trough is still and clear. Silver light shines off of the back of the waking horse. Tree trunks glisten with the life water…the life giver. A lark calls with all its heart in a tree, voice swelling as the sun rises. The subtle croaking of a bullfrog drifts over the wind, reminding the waking world of the night that has passed away. A hen begins to cluck and a sheep gets to her feet and puffs into the air.
You tread softly, afraid to break the spell of calm. Your feet skim the dirt swiftly. You round the barn and come face to face with beauty. The sky is reflected in every drop, every surface. Clouds begin to scud across the sky in groups. They are white and fluffy, relieved after the mist, able to fly again. As you turn, a snort carries into the air. The horse bows his head to you, requesting his grain.
Silver shines on his sides and face. It glimmers with each movement…he is one with the earth. You know that if you try to catch him now, he will simply disappear like the morning mist. A dream like the early hours.
Far away, a car starts and drives away. You sigh and feel free to breathe again. You want it to come back, but you know it won’t. The magic of the morning has faded, and you will have to wait until tomorrow to see it again.
You walk down to the barn, arms swinging at your sides. Silly thoughts occupy your head. Your homework isn’t done, you forgot a sweatshirt, you will be late for school. As you near the barn, you sniff a deep breath of the fresh morning air. As you call out to your sheep, you walk into the feedroom. ” Come and get it sheepies!” You laugh to yourself as they answer. BAAA, MRAA, blee. You pause, your heart beating a million miles per hour. Then you hear it again. blee. You leap out of the feedroom, sprint down the barn isle, almost slipping.
As you get to the door, your fingers fumble clumsily with the latch. A cool breath of air turns into steam through your blue lips. Then, you fling the stall door open. Your eyes search the musty, dim stall before you. WHERE IS IT!
You see the mother, her back against a wall. Her belly sags as if deflated. But, it is not until you look at your feet that you REALLY believe it. There, standing up and healthy, is a newborn lamb.
Her grey-brown wool shines with newness. You crouch to your feet and pull her close to you. She is so warm! The mother shuffles over, and watches. The second ewe nods her head impatiently. A huge smile stretches as wide as you can manage. The first lamb has been born!
You sprint up the hill as fast as you can. When you pound up the stairs, you still can’t believe it! Flinging open the door, you rush into the house. “MOM!” You scream, not even bothering to take off your manure caked boots. “EMMI HAD HER LAMB!” Your mother pokes her head around the corner, and something lights in her face. Pulling on boots quickly, she jogs down to the barn with a grin across her face. Your siblings jog down after you. Your mom comes into the barn, and peers into the stall, where you return and stroke the small, skinny, awkward creature in front of you. It gives a peaceful baa, and runs to nurse, small tail wagging.
Then, your younger brother points to the corner. “That one didn’t make it.” He chokes out. You look over to see a cold, stiff, lifeless lamb. Burying your head in your hands, you let sobs take place of the smile. But, soon that lamb is gone and your attention returns to the small little life before you.
Your heart explodes with joy.
People say you won’t be smart if you don’t go to school. I disagree. This may be cheesy, and it may not. Here it is, straight and true:
Going to school is good! You can learn lots of important knowledge such as math, writing, and reading. Without those, me and Aubrey could not make this blog. But, other things can be learned without setting foot inside a classroom.
No amount of books filled with facts, or neat desks, or multiple choice worksheets can teach the thrill of a kitten opening its eyes for the first time. Or the peacefulness of a sleeping dog. Or even the funny personalities of brooding hens. If school could show me all that, I would never leave. Sometimes, you just have to go learn for yourself.