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Winter 2013December 6, 2013
Winter is my favorite season, though come March, I may change my mind. I love the feeling of being hunkered in, making big pots of soup, watching patterns of snow falling, sculpting the landscape white. I even enjoy shoveling, especially that first white path, and raking snow from the roof to hearing that deep thud as it lands on the deck. Now, I anticipate the months of quiet yet to come, spending hours, days in my studio. Today, the "chickadees are thick." It made me think of Mrs. Waugh who told me long ago that that's always the sign of a storm. Memories...
About 40 years ago we bought the baby black angus steer from the Waughs. They were in their eighties, had been farmers for decades, lived just down the road. We, however, were a young family, had just bought this small 1865 "needs some work" farm in Glenburn, Maine. My husband was going to school, I worked for an architectural firm, Kim was seven and David was five. Of course we thought we could do it all...go to work, raise two kids, and have a 'real' farm. It was all so exciting! And, what better way to start being part time farmers, than with a baby steer? "You have lots of room!" said Harris Waugh.
It was a calm wintery day when the Waughs brought the new baby to us in their warn out old farm truck. Harris brought him in, wrapped tightly in a blanket. He stood the tiny calf on the floor by the pot belly stove. He was so cute and soft, the size of a lamb, and with eyes that would melt a stone. Mrs Waugh gave us detailed instructions on how to care for him and showed us how to feed him with a baby bottle. We all stood happily around the stove, and took turns feeding this sweet smelling little black beauty.
"Rump" (to make it clear he was not a pet) seemed to grow by the minute. He was soon in a cozy stall in the barn, but clearly he needed some friends. It wasn't long after that we acquired a pony, two dogs, several cats, chickens and ducks. The barn was full of life...it was glorious. In the spring, everyone came out to enjoy the back field while we planted a garden that would feed the neighborhood. WHAT WERE WE THINKING? We were in our early 30's and thought we could do anything!
Forty years later, the farm is quiet. My kids live in San Francisco and Kauai and I am still here with two cats, loads of wild birds and other critters, and two beautiful studios that used to belong to Rump, Apache, the ducks and chickens. Crazy as it all was, I wouldn't trade the memories for anything. And there's still a tiny mole that visits me in the back studio every winter, skitters under foot and reminds me who the space really belongs to... while new friends come to see what's for breakfast.