Winter Wonderland

The unmistakable smack and part-scrape, part-screech of a metal plow hitting and running along the pavement caught my attention yesterday morning. I had forgotten all about the 1″ of snow Mom advised me of the night before. Eh, how often are the weather people right? I looked out my office window and discovered that, this time, they were. Most of the ground was coated and, looking towards the massive spotlight in the parking lot across the street (even in darkest night, my house is lit up like a Christmas tree), I could see flakes still falling.

The child in me lit up like that Christmas tree. No, it’s not a “No school Foster-Gloucester” kind of morning, as Salty Brine used to say, and was the hero of every school age child in Rhode Island throughout the 1960’s and 70’s–and probably a few decades before. Snow or not, my college studies continue. But the memory of what the first snowfall used to mean clung to me like one of those icicles that form in late-spring after a perpetual cycle of thaw and re-freeze. Forget that I am a 50 year-old woman and that snowfall now equals back pain and muscle aches from endless hours of shoveling. It’s the first snow for Pete’s sake! And only an inch of it; no shoveling required. I couldn’t wait to get outside and experience it.

And neither could Max. Max, the lily-livered Blue Heeler who will hide behind every chair, on the stair well, any place he can squeeze his bologna sausage-shaped body to avoid going out in even a light mist of rain, catapulted himself off of the sofa yesterday morning, all tail wags, to go out in the fluffy white stuff (sorry, S-N-O-W is regarded as a disgusting swear word in the office at the dealership…LOL!). There was no hesitation. He pranced out onto the back deck and immediately put his nose down into it, sniffed, sneezed, snorted and then bounded off the deck, on the deck, and fairly skipped with me to the chicken coop.

That’s the spirit…

While the ground coverage was thin and actually spotty in some places, still, it was like someone magically transformed my backyard into that proverbial winter wonderland. Everywhere I looked, I saw pristine white. And the still-falling flakes made me feel as though someone had stuffed me into one of those snow globes…you know the ones, those kitschy ornaments that you shake and watch “snow” over whatever plastic, painted scene is protected under dome. And I loved every moment in it.

A few trips back and forth with Max to fill the smaller winter duck “pool”, scatter leftovers and birdseed for the chickens under the overhang where the snow didn’t fall, and replenish the outdoor waterers, and then Max went back inside the house so that chickens and ducks could come out to play.

Normally, I open the door of the hen house and take a quick step out of the way as 18 chickens and 3 ducks explode out of the house. Yesterday morning, Duncan, Dweezil and Dixie Ducks–affectionately and collectively known as The Quackers–waddled right outside and straight into their minuscule pool, obviously overjoyed to see this winter wonderland. Eh, snow’s only frosty water after all. However, there was a log jam of chickens at the door of the hen house. Goldie, the barking chicken (yes, she barks; she does NOT cackle or cluck. Whether this is learned “speech”, a mimicry of Max, or just her natural “singing” voice, I don’t know but Goldie barks…most convincingly…like a dog), squealed her brakes at the door jamb. Every hen and rooster in the chicken marathon behind her plowed into the back of her. Amazingly, she kept her footing and stayed just inside the door jamb. You could almost see the cogs turning as she took in this strange yet vaguely-remembered phenomena. Nope. She didn’t like this at all. It wasn’t until Sunset, Tank and a few others grew impatient and flew over her and into the yard that she finally resigned herself to cold feet for the rest of the day. And only Taffy ventured beyond the coop at first. In her usual pell-mell way, she came racing out of the hen house behind everyone else, squawking and cackling at the top of her lungs and racing, well, “normal” would be racing across and back again the yard but, with snow on the ground, her “race” was a wide arc around to the door of the goat barn. Race around in the snow? Maybe not…

A half hour later, goats, chickens and ducks all watered, fed and wandering free, the snow turned to a mix of snow and rain. The pristine whiteness rapidly gave way to the mud and muck of the barnyard again. But, for a few shining moments, I walked through magic, a magic that makes all things new again…just as Jesus makes all things new again.

May God bless you & keep you!

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