February 5, 2009

This morning, clear and freezing on the farm, Riley and I walking down to check the water in the trough at the top of the back pasture. She noticed, "Our strides are perfectly matched." I adjusted my grip on the pitch fork and said, "We are cowgirls out doing our work, together." I felt the pleasure of her stature, her company, the truth, and our speed as we moved. Our strides, strong purposeful matched for now; a gentle mockery of the time it will take for her to grow into a woman. She said, "I need boots just like yours." And my mind drifted on that thought. How small are steel toed boots made? How many pairs of boots will she need before her feet quit growing? My boots, my love, my eyes, rising to take in the pasture. That's no dog, no cat, that is a fox. "A fox, that is a FOX FOX FOX!" And it was gone. A streak of orange with a supernatural gait and a very long tail.

The water was frozen three inches thick. I hit it as hard as I could, sinking the butt end of the pitch fork through the ice in perfect shattered holes. I hit it again and again, flipping my tool to dip ice chunks out and toss them away from the trough. You have to think, where will these animals walk and stand. Don't throw slippery ice in their path. The ice refreezing to itself in its cradle. Hit it again. We are cow girls doing our work. The water freezes to my gloves instantly.

I note, I need better gloves. When my partner and I decided to buy a cow, I went directly to Walmart and bought a pair of men's sized seven steel toed work boots, pull on. I felt silly about this purchase. What do we do first, in all phases, but shop for accessories? I even felt shy about wearing the boots. I actually wore leather sandals the day we took baby Raspberry into the vet to be dehorned. Dr. Redding chastised me directly, "Get out of those sandals; get yourself some boots." Something small and warm bloomed in my heart, like being given permission to call yourself an artist. A cowgirl without boots is simply a fool, the furthest thing from a fashion statement.

A week later I scored, big time, in the thrift shop. I found a pair of stiff new Pointer Brand overalls for three dollars, and just my size. God is clearly giving me a directive. The only clothes I ever care to wear, now, are my boots and my overalls. My mother says, "Well, you are certainly dressing the part." Part of my heart, yes, that's right.

I stood looking over the back pasture last week and thought, this is going too far. But its not my fault. I need a cowgirl hat. The sun is in my eyes. My ears and the back of my neck need sun protection. I actually need a cowgirl hat. I'll wear it with my canvas vest, which allows my arms to swing a pitch fork or grab a lead rope, unhindered. Would that I could find the useful clothes to suspend my children from that sneaky cheater time, who takes them from us, as surely as the fox disappears over the rise. The fox who was there watching us approach, the whole time.


Kristin said...

What a beautiful post, Katherine. Thank you.

SabrinaT said...

You are an amazing writer!!!!

Anonymous said...

This is lovely. Beautiful word pictures. I can just see you and your daughter out there together. And, it IS OK to wear cowgirl clothes--after all they were designed for a purpose, as you've found out with the boots and the hat. Grin.

Are you a writer as well as a cowgirl?

Anonymous said...

I love your description of the fox. They are cool. love, V

carver family said...

"Would that I could find the useful clothes to suspend my children from that sneaky cheater time, who takes them from us, as surely as the fox disappears over the rise."

delicious words.
Me too, me too.


Anonymous said...

Trying to catch up with you after a couple of weeks. Did you ever find the lamb?
Sal's Girl

Katherine said...

About that little lamb. Sad story got sadder. I didn't have the heart to blog about it. Last week the children found the dead baby lamb. Best we can figure, it crawled into a hiding place and died - either of cold or hunger. We assume some predator pulled it out later. I believe it was the fox I saw.

Lessons were learned...

Sarah said...

You have an amazing gift for describing and connecting all of life in your words.