The Moon of Strong Cold

Grey skies dominated the canopy of this heavenly abyss while piling up dreary on the doorstep. Storms came in here and there causing temperatures to go up and down like a manic-depressive off their medication. Getting to the end of January is about the time when you want to throw those sleigh bells ching ching chingaling in to the trash compactor. But just before thoughts of suicide enter the mind, the sun comes out to a bursting blue sky grander than any cathedral built by man. We did enjoy a t-shirt day of 70 degrees just a few days before the Great Plains storm of 2011. Actually it was a storm everywhere else and we rode the edge of it just dodging the bullet and getting only a dusting where just 20 minutes north the sawmill had to close down for the week.

I split the month in two and spent some time down in Yuma Arizona. It was nice to straddle both worlds for a couple weeks, warm and dry vs. cold and wet. When leaving Branson airport for Yuma and while our plane was taxiing out to take off, the ground crew stood together along the edge of the runway and waved goodbye to all of us on the plane, and then kept on waving until we could no longer see them. Just like the Beverly Hillbillies did at the end of their show when they would come out their front door and stand there waving until the director came back from the bathroom to yell, “cut”! Kind of strange to see but we felt compelled to spontaneously wave back like children would and I suppose we are.

So while snow was falling in the Ozarks I walked in the desert in short sleeves but by the next week I was back wearing my insulated coveralls shielding me from death.

Although winter really does have it’s beauty and I’m sure I wouldn’t enjoy the green of spring and summer without it….I think. In the winter you can tromp through the woods without any thought of ticks or snakes. There is so much exploring to do that just can’t be done in the summer. Because the trees are stripped of their leaves you can see for miles and down in hollows to get a good lay of the land.

While I was away in Arizona my neighbor said he went by my place and saw a Bald Eagle perched in a tree at my front gate. When walking in the cold it’s easy to hunch over and sort of fold up with elbows tucked into your sides like wings and your shoulders rising up to meet your ears. It takes mindful determination to unfold, take your eyes off the ground and look up. There is so much going on above us and we can miss it by turning in. When I was young and immortal I used to walk around in the winter with my jacket open to the full expression of winter. But getting older, cold has more of an association with pain and I have to struggle a little more to keep the “wonder of it all” going. 

My chickens don’t seem to be bothered by the cold. They’re in and out of their coop and walk around like it’s the sunny side of the street.  When I close the chicken coop door at night it’s still wickedly cold inside yet come morning they hop off their perch happy as an idiot with a piece of string. I read that chickens can stand cold temperatures down to –30 but eggs sure can’t. I have to check for eggs a bit more diligently during days that stay below freezing otherwise they’ll freeze and crack.

I haven’t seen any coyotes for a while and looking in the snow around the coop there’s been no sign of visitors. My neighbor was recently walking the meadow on his 80 acres and told me that he saw several coyote tracks in the snow that intersected with deer tracks. He then could see where the deer was taken down by the coyotes, but then the tracks showed the deer got back up again with drops of blood and coyote tracks in pursuit. They took the deer down again with evidence of scattered snow, commotion and more blood. But the deer rose again and took off in the woods with the coyotes snapping at its hindquarters. My neighbor tracked it as far as he could before the snow melted on that side of the hill and he could no longer find the trail. The scene could have gone for a long way before the non-Disney ending occurred. Tragic though fascinating, the violence and cruelty of being eaten alive along side the beauty of nature that raw and wild. Like I’ve said before, if you’re bored here, then you depend too much on TV to fill in the blanks.

Flying back from Arizona I was wondering if the short reprieve of warm weather was going to dampen my zeal toward living here. Even after stepping out of the airport door to the parking lot and the cold hit my face like a brick wall, I continued to wonder. But on the way home we stopped for groceries at a little market in a town where a lot of Amish live. When I entered the store, an old Amish couple was at the counter making a purchase. The old man looked up at me with a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye then gave me a nod. The snow seemed to melt right there and the warmth was like no other. It’s good to be home.

Published in: on February 12, 2011 at 1:45 pm  Comments (8)  

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8 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Thanks, Greg- good writing as usual. The middle and east parts of the country sure got socked with record storms and lows this winter. Stay warm- spring is right around the corner!

    • Hi Tami,
      Thank you again for your encouragement!
      Hey today and all this week I’ll be wearing a t-shirt….OUTSIDE!!! Heck, maybe spring will stay!
      My daughter and 2 grandbabies moved in with us a couple days ago. I will be flying out to CA in a few weeks to help my son in-law drive 1 of their 2 cars back here. I DO plan on taking one last walk on the beach while there and then we plan a slow drive back to check out the South West sites along the way. Can’t wait!!

  2. I love your blogs, I feel I am there with you as you describe all that you see and feel.. I used to live in the Ozarks but just for a couple years. (my husband didnt like it or the people) but I (alone) recently purchased another home in Missouri just north of Springfield to retire in.. I am so looking forward to going back.. It is near 80 here today, so like you I am wondering if I’ve lost my mind or if I will feel the same when I return next month..

    • Thank you Marilyn I’m glad your enjoying my letters and thank you for taking the time to tell me so.
      Sorry to hear your husband didn’t like it here or the people.
      Yes some of these small towns can be cliquish and clannish. When you’ve had your daily dose of that kind of small mindedness you tend to start thinking that the whole town is that way, not so. I started to think that way too but then really observed my “day in town” and can honestly say it’s about 50/50. So in my blog I focus on the positive. This coming year I may write a bit about “local inclinations” but not too much, anybody can focus on the negatives. There are some real golden “locals” here that keep my hope in humanity alive. One such friend is Janet Taber who writes a wonderfully talented blog on life here in the Ozarks. Janet has a lot of family history here that goes way back with the best of them. Janet is proud of her heritage (as she should be) yet not prideful. With Janet it’s what you see is what you get. Here’s her blog address if you’re interested.
      Good luck in your move back to the Ozarks, this place deserves a second chance.

      Take Care, gregg

  3. Gregg, Don’t want you going all cocky, but this is perhaps your best yet. I think your trip to AZ warmed you up enough to get your creative juices really flowing–love, love the imagery in this whole piece. My fav: the paragraph about walking in the cold and as we get older how we turn in on ourselves.

    ” When I was young and immortal I used to walk around in the winter with my jacket open to the full expression of winter. But getting older, cold has more of an association with pain and I have to struggle a little more to keep the “wonder of it all” going.”

    I read that paragraph again because I like it so much!

    Keep ’em comin’!

    • Hi Janet,
      I was going to visit your church again today but my head was so big I couldn’t get out the door.
      Thank you for your kind words my friend they really mean a lot coming from you. As you know, writing is such an isolated thing to do and it can be scary to come out of the cave with your thoughts for everyone to read and critique.
      Support is so important, Thank you again!!

      BTW – I love the latest pictures you’ve posted this month and yes I agree, February needs RED!


  4. Great post! Welcome home.

    • Thank you Shannon.
      Hey, I finally signed up for your blog, now I can keep a better connection with you. Along with your writing, you’re a very good photographer as well.
      Take care, gregg

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