Thanking the Light

sunset1023

sunrise10231

Now a red, sleepy sun above the rim
Of twilight stares along the quiet weald,
And the kind, simple country shines revealed
In solitudes of peace, no longer dim.
The old horse lifts his face and thanks the light,
Then stretches down his head to crop the green.
All things that he has loved are in his sight;
The places where his happiness has been
Are in his eyes, his heart, and they are good.
~Siegfried Sassoon from “Break of Day”

sunset965

sunset92horses3

At the Heart of the World

treehouse1

walnuthouse
My green, graceful bones fill the air   
With sleeping birds. Alone, alone
And with them I move gently.
I move at the heart of the world.
~James Dickey from “In the Tree House at Night”
treehousewintertreehouse3
treehouse5
photo by Dan Gibson

photo by Dan Gibson

The Trivial Transfigured

972223_10151730350476119_1024153386_n

sunrisevane92

IMG_0624

A sudden light transfigures a trivial thing, a weather-vane, a wind-mill, a winnowing flail, the dust in the barn door; a moment,- -and the thing has vanished, because it was pure effect; but it leaves a relish behind it, a longing that the accident may happen again.
~Walter Pater from “The Renaissance”

The accident of light does happen, again and again, but when I least expect it.  I need to be ready for it; in a blink, it can be gone.  Yet in that moment, everything is changed and transformed forever.  The thing itself, trivial and transient becomes something other, merely because of how it is illuminated.  And so am I, trivial and transient, lit from outside myself, transfigured by a love and sacrifice that I can never expect or deserve. I need to be ready for it.

sunrise926

haflingervane

vaneeve

Ensnared By Summer

sunset8318

sunset8319

sunset8317

August rushes by like desert rainfall,
A flood of frenzied upheaval,
Expected,
But still catching me unprepared.
Like a match flame
Bursting on the scene,
Heat and haze of crimson sunsets.
Like a dream
Of moon and dark barely recalled,
A moment,
Shadows caught in a blink.
Like a quick kiss;
One wishes for more
But it suddenly turns to leave,
Dragging summer away.
-  Elizabeth Maua Taylor

sunset8315

sunset 8311

What wondrous life is this I lead!
Ripe apples drop about my head;
The luscious clusters of the vine
Upon my mouth do crush their wine;
The nectarine and curious peach
Into my hands themselves do reach;
Stumbling on melons, as I pass,
Ensnared with flowers, I fall on grass.
-  Andrew Marvell, Thoughts in a Garden

sunset8316

The foliage has been losing its freshness through the month of August, and here and there a yellow leaf shows itself like the first gray hair amidst the locks of a beauty who has seen one season too many.
~Oliver Wendell Holmes

sunset8314

sunset83111

My life is like the summer rose
That opens to the morning sky,
But ere the shades of evening close
Is scattered on the ground – to die.
-  Richard Henry Wilde

sunset83110

sunset8312

The Gift of a Fencerow

oldfence

barbedwire

Brushy fencerows are in a sense a gift from man to nature — at least if, after the posts are dug in and the fence stapled to the posts, nature is given some free reign. Birds sitting on the fence and posts will pass undigested seeds in their droppings. Some of these seeds of blackberry, wild cherry, elderberry, bittersweet, sassafras, mulberry, and unfortunately, in some areas, multiflora rose, will take root in the loose soil around the posts and later in soil dug up by woodchucks. Chipmunks scurrying along the fence will bring and bury acorns and hickory nuts, while the wind will deliver dandelion, milkweed, and thistle seeds — all ingredients for a healthy fencerow.
~David Kline from Great Possessions

sunsetthistlebarbsunsetweedsbarnbarbeddaisy

How Much Better

dawnclothesline

How much better it is
to carry wood to the fire
than to moan about your life.
How much better
to throw the garbage
onto the compost, or to pin the clean
sheet on the line,
With a gray-brown wooden clothes pin.
~Jane Kenyon “The Clothespin”

I get easily overwhelmed with everything that needs to get done on the farm in addition to all the usual household tasks, especially on a weekend–grass to mow, flower beds to weed, garden to plant, fences to fix, manure to haul, animals to brush out — the list is endless and there are never enough hours in the day.   I moan and whine about it.

Or I can set to work, tackling one thing at a time.  A simple task is accomplished, and then another, like hanging clothes on the line: this one is done, and now this one, pinned and hanging to freshen, renewed,  in the spring breezes.

At the end of the day (or the end of the weekend), I pull them down, bury my face in them and breathe deeply, knowing how much better I am than before I began.

So much better.

clothespins

Rambling About

winterbird

Most of the farmers I have known, and certainly the most interesting ones, have had the capacity to ramble about outdoors for the mere happiness of it, alert to the doings of the creatures, amused by the sight of a fox catching grasshoppers, or by the puzzle of wild tracks in the snow.
~Wendell Berry

I don’t know how interesting I am (actually I do know — mundane is my middle name) , but I have always been an ambling rambler, whether it is finding a killdeer nest in the marsh, wild ginger in the woods, dragonflies over the pond, squirrels leaping 12 feet from one walnut tree to the next, countless owl pellets in the barn, a coyote crossing the field at dawn, or a trillium blooming by the front walkway.  I can go on and on.  Each day is a new set of wonders.

It is the mere happiness of discovery and being the first to see something I’ve never seen before and I might never see again.   What a harvest to be able to gather, store up and haul out whenever I need a little reminder about how blessed I am to live on a farm.

March’s Cacophonous Marsh

photo by Kate Steensma

photo by Kate Steensma

Poets who know no better rhapsodize about the peace of nature, but a well-populated marsh is a cacophony.~Bern Keating

To open the month of March, a warm southerly wind swept in overnight with heavy rain drenching fields and lowlands.   The evening sounds were nothing more than constant dripping and trickling as downspouts unloaded and the hillsides drained.

Tonight, the peepers have awakened, brought out of the mire by tepid temperatures and vernal stirrings.  Their twilight symphony of love and territory has begun, soft and surging,  welcome and reassuring.

There’s a spring a-comin’, the peepers proclaim.  No one can prefer the silence of the countryside when such a song can be heard right out the back door.  Nothing can be sweeter.

BriarCroft at Year’s End

photo by Nate Gibson

photo by Nate Gibson

photo by Nate Gibson

photo by Nate Gibson

There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something. You certainly usually find something, if you look, but it is not always quite the something you were after.
— J.R.R. Tolkien

photo by Nate Gibson

photo by Nate Gibson

applefieldapplemossbranchesdec

“O cruel cloudless space,
And pale bare ground where the poor infant lies!
Why do we feel restored
As in a sacramental place?
Here Mystery is artifice
And here a vision of such peace is stored,
Healing flows from it through our eyes.”
~May Sarton from Nativity

treedecsunset

photo by Nate Gibson

photo by Nate Gibson

decsuntree“I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December
A magical thing
And sweet to remember.

‘We are nearer to Spring
Than we were in September,’
I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December.”
-   Oliver Herford, I Heard a Bird Sing

appleeat

photo by Nate Gibson

photo by Nate Gibson

appletreesdec

weedseeddec

“Come, come thou bleak December wind,
And blow the dry leaves from the tree!
Flash, like a Love-thought, thro’me, Death
And take a Life that wearies me.”
-   Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 1772-1834, Fragment 3

blackberrywinter

Dechaybarn

pyradec

“That’s no December sky!
Surely ’tis June
Holds now her state on high
Queen of the noon.

Only the tree-tops bare
Crowning the hill,
Clear-cut in perfect air,
Warn us that still

Winter, the aged chief,
Mighty in power,
Exiles the tender leaf,
Exiles the flower.”
-   Robert Fuller Murray (1863-1894), A December Day

photo by Nate Gibson

photo by Nate Gibson

photo by Nate Gibson

photo by Nate Gibson

“This is what I have heard
at last the wind in December
lashing the old trees with rain
unseen rain racing along the tiles
under the moon
wind rising and falling
wind with many clouds
trees in the night wind.”
-  W. S. Merwin

photo by Nate Gibson

photo by Nate Gibson

“The grim frost is at hand, when apples will fall thick, almost thunderous, on the hardened earth.”
-  D. H. Lawrence

photo by Nate Gibson

photo by Nate Gibson

catpyrafrostygnome

photo by Nate Gibson

photo by Nate Gibson

“Give me the end of the year an’ its fun
When most of the plannin’ an’ toilin’ is done;
Bring all the wanderers home to the nest,
Let me sit down with the ones I love best,
Hear the old voices still ringin’ with song,
See the old faces unblemished by wrong,
See the old table with all of its chairs
An’ I’ll put soul in my thanksgivin’ prayers.”
-   Edgar A. Guest

mushroomsclothespinfrostdectreehouse

“Through bare trees
I can see all the rickety lean-tos
and sheds, and the outhouse
with the half-moon on the door,
once modestly covered in
summer’s greenery.

Through bare trees
I can watch the hawk
perched on a distant branch,
black silhouetted wings
shaking feathers and snow,
and so can its prey.

Through bare trees
I can be winter’s innocence,
unashamed needfulness,
the thin and reaching limbs
of a beggar, longing to touch
but the hem of the sun.”
-  Lisa Lindsey, Bare Trees

creeperdecdecfrost1queenannedecfrostfir

“There is a privacy about it which no other season gives you …..  In spring, summer and fall people sort of have an open season on each other; only in the winter, in the country, can you have longer, quiet stretches when you can savor belonging to yourself.”
-  Ruth Stout

decsun

photo by Nate Gibson

photo by Nate Gibson

harrow

snowberrywintergnomes

photo by Nate Gibson

photo by Nate Gibson

BriarCroft in Autumn photos

BriarCroft in Winter photos

BriarCroft in Spring photos

BriarCroft in Summer photos