I woke up this morning when the dog sleeping at my feet went flying off the couch, barking like the devil was at the door. This scared the calico that was sleeping in my hair, who jumped for the bookcase, knocking a vase of shells my Nana collected from her last beach adventure. I sat up, wrapped in my quilt, and stumbled to the door, knocking the pit bull aside with my knees. It wasn’t the devil, but a nurse to take Nana’s blood. I asked him to wait and shoved Kacie out, her hackles raised, and then let him in. Once Nana was awake, me and my quilt made a hasty retreat, sweeping seashells all the way down the hall.
This is not a typical morning at the farm – actually, there is no such thing as a typical morning. If the wasps haven’t found their way in, a dead mouse or mole has. If the neighbors cows haven’t broken through our fence line, the mule surely will, and drag every t-post and strand of wire with him. He chews the tops of the corn stalks off, leaving uneven stems standing in neat rows behind him.
Since I was up, I made coffee. Since everyone else in the house was now up, I fed them too: Kacie, who did not apologize for rudely waking me, Abbie, who is halfway shaved from her last neighborhood dog fight, and the calico and mama cat, who decided to have her 5 kittens in the fireplace. The sun was already up, but had not burned through the morning mist that wrapped around the mountain ridge. The air was cool and the birds were singing. My Aunt came down and made bacon and pancakes while we watched the rest of the world wake up from the kitchen table.
People call country life simple. I think it’s because we are so occupied with checking, feeding, watering, cleaning, letting in and out animals, fixing fence, mowing, weeding the garden, and watering some more, there is no time for anything else. Who cares if the furniture in the living room is outdated when you spend all day re-wiring the chicken coop? Does it matter that the chairs at the table don’t match, as long as they can hold you up at the end of the day? Sadie told me once that she likes when there’s dust on the mantle because she can write her name in it. And I think I agree.
We walked out to the garden and picked squash and zucchini, laughing at the corn stalks that are trying to grow back. She fills a bag and I swing up on Tug, riding across the road to the 100 acres my Grandfather used to own. Winston, who manages the land now, helped us till the garden, and we promised him part of the spoils. He gives me permission to ride across the field, which they are preparing to cut for hay, and Tug and I take it all in. The huge field slopes down to the river, and through the thin tree line I can see it sparkle in the early light. The grass is green and thick, still covered in dew from this morning. We walk down the hill to the tree line, and the sweet smell of grass changes to the cool mud from the riverbank.
It’s a wide river, flowing quickly. The water is clear and looks cold, rushing silently over smooth rocks. We watch it for a while, and the herons on the bank watch us. Tug and I walk the length of the land until the river bank bends away to flow to the city. We turn around and lope all the way back to the barn, the wind rushing through his mane and mine. I give him breakfast and turn him out in the big field, where the mares greet him with whinny’s. We both let out a big sigh and I think if he could talk, we would say the same thing: It’s a wonderful life.