Haystack Farm

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A Long Telling of a Short Story About a Morning Walk

When you enter a forest with peace, you never know what she will show you. Miraculously I had no children for a few hours on Friday morning.  The two youngest successfully convinced their Dad to save them from just another morning home with Mom.   Driving into town for a load of lumber must be more exciting and carry with it a high chance of treats. Being chosen second to lumber and doughnuts could have bothered me but instead it offered me the golden opportunity  to do chores without dealing with cold toes and frozen fingers, dives through the turkey poo, or saving kittens from the loving stranglehold of my son.  I was not about to waste this treat of my own and I let my feet take me on a leisurely stroll through chores.  With the goats milked, the cats fed, and the chickens and turkeys working happily away at their full feeders and troughs, my feet with their frozen rubber boot toes headed me down across the frosted pasture to the pigs.  Passing through the gate into the wooded area of the pen I knew the pigs would have to wait a bit for breakfast. We floated by the waiting pails and empty troughs drawn into the woods along the firebreak trail by the gold sunlight lighting up the yellow leaves as if they were electric.  Drops of melting frost harmonized with the rustle of the wind to compose the soundtrack for our morning walk. My feet would pause now and then to let us watch a leaf meander its way down to the undergrowth so only we knew its final resting place. My destination was the “Grandmother Tree.”  An enormous white pine.  She must be by far the oldest thing in this forest, and I am convinced she is the matriarch for all its inhabitants.  We almost lost her in the fire here three years ago and the firebreak trail runs right beside her.  On seeing her two emotions surge, the first is a humbling awe, as it would be impossible not to feel while looking at such a wonder of age, beauty, and size. The second is sadness at seeing her rounded top, a sign her life as we perceive it is in its twilight.  I can’t pass her by without getting in close to enjoy  her centuries old strength.  Leaning in close it’s almost like smelling the beginning the time.  After visiting a while, the freezing pain in my toes started to raise thoughts of heading back home.  I was about to bid Grandmother adieu when I heard a soft rustle in the bushes down towards the creek. Keeping hidden under Grandmother’s bowing branches I watched silently as a young bull moose stepped into view lazily browsing on bushes.  This was the closest I have been to one of these private creatures. I watched for as long as he stayed in view. When I could no longer see him I quietly headed back down the trail full of thanks for the gifts of the morning.  I could hear my new friend making his way along the creek below the trail. He grunted softly from time to time until suddenly two doe white tail deer felt he was too close for comfort and burst out of the hiding place in the bushes and up onto the trail in front of me. The first was small but moved effortlessly. The second was large and healthy  and wasted no time beating down the trail to a new hiding place waving good-bye to me with her tail as she went.  I added the encounter to my Thankful List and carried on with a smile.  It was only a matter of minutes before I received the greatest gift yet.  Again I heard my friend in the bushes below. Upon turning to see if I could catch one last glimpse I saw his dark eyes and small antlers headed straight towards me.  In the back of my mind I heard my husband’s voice say “Moose in the rut are unpredictable.” I was relatively sure he wasn’t mistaking me for one of his own and couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see just how close we could come to each other.  I ducked behind a tree on the uphill side of the trail and waited to let my new friend proceed as he liked.  When he reached the edge of the bush on the other side of the trail he paused prudently. It seemed he knew he was not alone but wasn’t sure who or what was there.  Cautiously he stepped out onto the trail maybe 6 feet from me.  His soft brown eyes looked my way. He turned and took a few curious steps one way down the trail then turned and came back across in front of me.  He kept one eye on my location but showed no fear or aggression. After heading a few steps down the trail the other way he came back in front of me one last time pausing as if for a photo with the sun shining on his warm coat. He turned to go back down towards the creek and was gone. I thanked him for his trust and headed back to my hungry charges.  All in all not a bad start to the day, definitely not one I will soon forget. 

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