December 24, 2013
“The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow,
Gave a luster of midday to objects below.”
– from “Twas the Night Before Christmas
As I drifted through the fog into the realm of the living, I became aware of the body-sized ice pack beneath me. I wiped the drool off the corner of my mouth, hoping that nothing had crawled in there while I was sleeping. I reached over to the floor beside me to look at my I-phone to find out the time. It was 4:00 a.m. We had gone to bed at 8:00 p.m. the night before, so that was a good 8 hours of sleep! My taste buds were screaming for coffee. (On a side-note, I have been coffee-free for a week and a half, and I’m whipping those taste buds into submission!)
I had taken off my layers the night before, so I again put them in the bed with me until they warmed up, got dressed and went to the kitchen.
I pressed the button on the coffee maker which I had set up the night before, and made my way over to the propane heater. I held my hands in front of it. I pulled the bottom of my sweatshirt away from body and leaned forward to let the hot air envelope me. When I was warm, I went to the living room window to see if it was still snowing, but it had stopped. I took in the beauty of moon bathing the new fallen snow, and thought of the line from, “Twas the Night Before Christmas.”
I went outside on the porch and looked toward the hen house. It was only a dusting of snow, but it covered the ground. The heat lamp in the hen house gave off an ethereal glow through the cracks in the boards.
I stood there on the porch and listened to the pre-dawn sounds. I could hear the hens talking softly amongst themselves. Occasionally, a gust of a breeze tickled the branches of the trees, and straggling snow rained down. Mostly, the stillness in the cold air was deafening.
I wrapped my arms around my body, tucked my hands underneath my arms and shivered. When I went back inside, Bud was awake and up. We drank our coffee while eating leftover Cherry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake, mostly in silence. We enjoyed the ambiance of the morning feeling comfortable, warm and clean as we looked out the window. Soon, dawn started to gently caress the landscape, creeping in ever so gently with her light.
We decided to get dressed so that we could take pictures when it was light enough.
I took food and water out to the hen house, and the chickens were eager to get out. When I opened the door, they started piling out and they seemed a bit mystified over all of that cold, white stuff all over the ground.
They were very hungry. At first, when they wanted to move from one part of the yard to the other, they would flap their wings, lifting off like a fast-moving Hindenburg. They curled their tail feathers underneath them with their feet in front of them and flew from one part of the yard to the next while cackling as if scared of their own flight. When they flew, they looked like basketballs with wings. I laughed so hard! Eventually, they went back to walking normally, but they were quick-stepping!
I spent some time taking pictures.
After the kitchen was all cleaned up, I decided to pay the Matriarch of the Amish family a visit. (I will call her Mrs. B.) As she was leaving the night before, she had said, “Come visit me sometime.” I took that as an invitation, and worried that she might be lonely. Since her family was away and she was alone, I decided to go check on her. I took her a little gift of some tea bags. The tea is sort of sweet and spicy, and I thought it was an unusual tea that someone might like to try.
I drove up the hill, and rounded her drive. It took her a while to answer the door, but she finally answered, and invited me in. I declined at first. I didn’t want to impose or bother her, but she persisted so i finally relented. It was warm inside. She used a wood stove for heat, but explained that though she had a propane heater, she preferred to use her wood stove. She hastened to add that her son had left plenty of wood for her before he left.
Surprisingly, it looked like a normal house…a FABULOUS house. The ceiling was very high, and at the far end of the house on the upper wall close to the ceiling were very high small windows intended to act as a skylight. In between the living room and kitchen on the far wall was a solid wood, heavy, hand-made door. It reminded me of the kind of door you might see in the movie ‘Heidi’ on the Grandfather’s cabin. I had no idea where it led.
She offered me a seat on the couch, and I accepted. I looked over and noticed her open Bible underneath the lamp on the end table. A little nervous, I sat on the edge of the couch, my hands clasped around my knees. I wondered what she thought of my snake boots, and my short hair. If she thought anything of it, her face did not belie her.
We made polite chit chat, and it was a nice conversation. She mentioned that P (the Seller’s wife,) had told her I might be interested in the wood used as paneling on one end of her house. Her husband had built the house. It was originally just that one, long room, which currently housed the living room, dining table, and a small square, which she explained was her original kitchen. It was a square added on to the rectangle, and reminded me of a large closet, but was not enclosed.
She took me over to the other end of the house.The wood wall she showed me was made of pieces of discounted wood her husband had gotten at the mill. They were about two feet long and were of knotty pine. He had staggered them, sort of like you would do if you were putting down a wood floor. It was beautiful! The best part, though, was the huge plate glass window in front of the dining room table. There was so much natural lighting in the house, that she probably didn’t have to turn on the lights, even though she had the electricity to do so.
She took me around to show me the kitchen that had been added in later years. At one end was a little hutch area with a kitchen table that was surrounded by windows and led onto a deck, which was the original entrance to the house. Her breakfast area opened on to the kitchen, which was a galley type kitchen. The cabinets had been hand made by her husband, and they were beautiful! There was a big plate glass window in front of the sink that faced onto a breathtaking view. Oh the prayers she must have said while washing dishes there! She explained that the cedars were getting a little tall, and that her son was urging her to cut them down before it obstructed her view. She said that the birds liked them, and she loved the birds, so she hated to cut them down. I noticed a stack of ‘Birds and Blooms’ magazines on a table nearby.
I felt really bad when I noticed a bowl of ingredients with freshly cracked eggs in it, the shells still dripping with egg whites on the counter. I apologized profusely for interrupting. She waved it off and explained that she was making ‘White Christmas Pie.” I told her I had never heard of that one, and she explained that it was made of coconut. She showed me the cookbook lying on her counter top. It was one of those compilation books where people share their recipes to make the book, and it was spiral bound.
I was really feeling like I should leave at this point. I apologized again, and made for the door. We said our goodbyes, I gave her a hug, and I left.
I had put four of my hens’ eggs and some tea bags into the jar that P had put the soup into when she brought it by. I also added a thank you note, and some red berries and cedar branches to make it look pretty. After I left Mrs. B’s, I dropped by P’s to give her the jar back. After my experience of interrupting Mrs. B in the middle of making her pie, I didn’t want to stay too long. Her husband was home, and I didn’t want to intrude on their time together. We exchanged pleasantries, I gave her a big hug, and I left.
When I got back to the house, I started pulling off paneling and wallpaper in what we have been calling the ‘pantry room’. I had to move everything we have been storing out of there first. I started a fire in our burning pile, and burned what I pulled off of the walls.
The sun came out, and the snow melted quickly. It was an absolutely beautiful day with the sun shining brightly, and the chickens enjoyed being out in it. It was the first day that we’d really had any sun since we arrived.
I had put a roast in the Crockpot with Carne Guisada mix in it. The roast was nice and tender by the end of the day, and we at it in tortillas that evening for supper.
It was nice to have had a day of hard work, and we went to sleep clean, tired and content.