In early January I felt as if my life was in a state of complete disarray. My beloved V-Dub Volvo had been through an accident involving a snowy ridge road and a younger brother and was crippled for good (the younger brother was fine), I was puttering about in my friend Julian’s ancient boxy green Aerostar van, a client that I had been working with was going through a mental breakdown and was in the middle of a psychiatric hospitalization, and my dear regimented schedule was caught in a post Christmas messy hangover.
Sitting in my room one day, I decided to gather some positive power and start a spring countdown. I took printer paper and cut it into squares. I did my calendar research and found that by day 70, I would hit spring. I numbered the stacks of paper 1-70, then I took a stack of magazines and cut out pictures of spring and summer- glossy photos of horses galloping on green pasture, butterflies, bird nests, tulips, and so forth. I glued a photo to each numbered square and taped the squares around the border of my bedroom walls. Each day I would cross off with an X the spent winter day. Yesss, death to winter!
I am happy to report that I am now estranged from the boxy green Aerostar, and am thrilled with all things of spring including mud. Lots and lots of mud. The best sight yet has not been of green grass, but instead Dad’s friend Gary getting around the farm in the boggy stuff.
Gary is a bit of a Job figure- a former dairy farmer who grew up on the ridge behind ours. Over the past twenty years he lost a young son to cancer, his grown kids to big cities, his marriage, and his farm. He also had a stroke and isn’t able to communicate too clearly anymore, but he can shuffle along and mumble. After years of employing all the neighborhood kids on his farm and owing all of them money, he has now become Dad’s hired hand and best man. When Dad heads out to the field, Gary is right there shuffling along beside him. He and Dad are quite the team. It is possible Dad loves working with him because he doesn’t talk nearly as much as Dad’s children.
The other day I looked out over a vast expanse of thick ridge mud and saw Gary wading along though it. I noted that Gary had gotten a cane at last, and it really seemed to be helping his progress through the mud. Then I looked closer, and realized the cane was actually an ax. I believe his new walking aide is much more original than my spring countdown.