Tuesday, March 22, 2011


Years ago I read a book called Smilla's Sense of Snow.  One thing stuck in my mind:  The Danish author said there are over thirty words in that language for snow.  As I have watched the different sizes, weights, behaviour in the wind, I think it's sad that those of us who speak English do not have the ability to describe the different kinds of snow.  It's a huge empty place in our language because snow comes in so many forms. 

It's snowing now, but the thaw has begun at last.  I can't haul firewood in a snow sled any more; it drags on the dormant grass.  So the tire on the wheelbarrow has to be pumped up.  It's time for it to back to work after sleeping in the woodshed all winter.

As I walked by yesterday with arms laden in firewood, there was the first of many spring garden discoveries.  Tiny purple violets around silver driftwood were alive, preserved under the snow in perfect color.  It seems impossible that they could still be thriving and perky after months of ice and snow.  Why do violets do this?  Because garden fairies live under them.  That's why.

The winter brought several Jersey calves. They all love having their heads scratched. They have soft fuzzy winter fur, in a range of colors from honey to tan to taupe, with huge gentle eyes and eyelashes any woman would kill for.    It bears repeating that Cattle must be Gods favorite creatures. 

The Boss also sold some cows, acquired some others.  Violet, of the shortened tail, went to a good family of nine children.  She has huge liquid eyes.  The children are sure to fall in love with  her.  One of the new ones is huge, and like all of the Boss's cows very peaceful for a Jersey.  They have a bad reputation for being fractious, but not on this ranch.  Perhaps they know how superior they are in the dairy cow world and expect royal treatment.  They get that here.  This new lady loves her new diet, and gives more and more milk.  I think she holds some kind of record.  As Jersey's do, she gets thinner, ribs showing, making the casual observer think she is being starved.  Not so.  That's just the way the breed is.  You only have to look into her eyes to see she is a very happy lady.

Last evening, I saw Buster the border collie running madly toward the south pasture.  I walked out to see what huge beast he was chasing.  He only barks at critters, never people.  His target this time was only a pair of Canada Geese, one of them probably tired or wounded so they drifted down to rest.  Buster stood at a polite distance and invited them to leave.  They couldn't, so I called him to come and have a bone.  The Boss told me that Buster is trained to scare them away, as when the new grass sprouts in the pastures, the geese pull it up by the roots.  Not helpful.  It will start with a visitation of two or three married-for-life couples, then before you can turn around there are hundreds of them diligently yanking up the cattle's new grass.  Buster will have a marvelous time racing around in circles persuading them to depart for greener pastures.

I have been in this paradise for a year now, and survived a Montana winter.  When I tried to run away to sunshine there was more snow there to greet me and let me know I might as well have stayed home.  Yes, Montana is home. 

Changes are coming in a month or so.  Stay tuned.

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