Burdocks and Blizzards

dsc_9350There is a downfall to writing and putting pictures out there for the world to see.  I am able to frame in with my words and camera exactly what I want you, the reader, to hear and see.  In an effort to be as truthful as possible and yet not hurt the people I write about, there can be a tendency towards distortion.  You may become convinced I live in a bubble where everything is beautiful.

I smile when I zoom my lens in on the flower or the nest, knowing that you would probably rather see beauty than ugliness. I could include what’s left of our pole shed which stands in the background of many of my family pictures.  It collapsed 3 years ago and has become an eyesore, with  burdocks growing and entangling themselves in the rubble. Time and funding for repair/cleanup is scarce, so it has become part of my daily view.

When proof reading my last post on Soul Conservation, I debated about changing a word.  When I wrote about “laying stones on sunny days,”  I don’t want you, the reader, to think that we only have sunny days here at Wintergreen Farm.  In fact there are many stormy, ugly and just plain old tough days I would prefer to leave out of the picture.

Six years ago, we helped our daughter and her fiance plan and pull off an outdoor wedding in “The Meadow.”  The Meadow was actually an old hay-field surrounded by trees, that required the entire time of their engagement to prepare.  Fortunately, it was only a 4 month engagement;  4 months of labor which included broken down lawnmowers, endless raking by hand, and  battles with bears.  (I’ll leave you hanging on that one…. stay tuned for the story in a post somewhere down the road.)

The week before the wedding was nothing but discouraging.  Rain, rain, and more rain. I think snow was even in the forecast.   Everyone felt we should give up, cut our losses, and hold the wedding in the church down the road. There was just no way an outdoor wedding could happen.

After the port-a-potty truck made his delivery, the short drive across a ditch into The Meadow,  was getting impassable and there was friction in the family.  (I’ll use the general terms family and friction, to protect the party or parties involved… once again, only framing in the part of the picture I want you to see…) “Whose fault was it that this  hadn’t been dealt with a long time ago, on a sunny day.  And how on earth would the truck make it in to deliver the tent, let alone 250 guests with their cars?”  The torrential rain was definitely washing away the gully  that week and threatening my sanity also.

I know it’s just a wedding,  but really, what were we to do with the messy corner we had backed ourselves into?

We were feeling desperate, so in cold, torrential rain,  I found myself helping my  determined, now son-in-law lay big slabs of concrete to stabilize the drive.  With rivulets of rain, streaming down his handsome face, he declared he had no intention of giving up now.   The wedding would go on as planned, even if people had to huddle under umbrellas, and hike a half a mile to attend.  I had envisioned flower arranging, not road construction on the day before the ceremony, but heartened by his determination, we heaved and shoved the heavy chunks;  slipping and sloshing through the slippery mud,  and when we had finished, along with sore backs,  we had quite a substantial drive for people to cross the following day.

In my previous post, I also mentioned that we “even have fond memories of where, [or when] we read certain books.”  Yes, some of the memories include fair days of reading out in the forest, under a canopy of pine,  other memories are of reading in the dead of winter, during a power outage. Here in Wisconsin, if you have no alternative heat source when the power goes out, you bundle up,  light the candles, and snuggle  with your children and a good book.  (In order to keep the pipes from freezing, we have even left a small flame burning on our gas stove.) Determined to keep laying those stones, even on stormy days,  I  have tried to create an aura of excitement about going through a trial, such as no heat and electricity.

What better way to bring to life Laura Ingalls Wilder’s book, The Long Winter, than to only have candles for light, a small flame for heat, and a resourcefully made meal or two while we waited for the power to be restored. (Beenie Weenies over a candle flame, anyone?) The wind howling outside brought home the reality of what the dear pioneer family went through the winter of 188o-’81 when the snow drifted 12 feet high on the train tracks, cutting off their main food supply. They not only survived, they lived out incredible stories  we now have the privilege of reading, either on a sunny warm day, or on a frightfully cold, gray day.

By the way, my children have  commented on  how they loved that particular experience of reading through the storm,  bundled together under a pile of quilts on the couch.   What did Pa’s hands feel like if they were so chapped and sore he couldn’t play his violin to cheer his family?  How did Ma stay so calm when their food supply was running out?  And just how  scared was  Almanzo  when he struck out into the unknown;  a drifted, frozen prairie, to find wheat for the little town of DeSmet?  Those were some of the questions that came to our minds as the wind whipped up drifts of snow around our little house on the hill.

Don’t be misled.  Not all days are sunny here, but  I have found that stones can still be laid in the middle of the storms. Though I much prefer flower arranging, the job of road construction can be just as satisfying.

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