when the trees are sobbing faintly

There was a chair in my grandparents’ house. It was a nondescript stool with a square burgundy seat mounted on four iron legs. It was the kind that you could spin in circles. You could push off with your feet or lay face down across it and turn, walking the circle with fingertips to the floor.

I spent a lot of childhood in that house. One warm summer evening, while Grandpa was in the milkhouse and Gran was making Jersey milkshakes for after chores, I sat on that stool and watched Silent Running, a 1972 environmentally-themed American post-apocalyptic science fiction film starring Bruce Dern. I sobbed as Earth’s last forest traveled out of reach.

As a teen, I sat in Gran’s kitchen and bit my nails while she talked with a caller at the back door. The visitor wanted to buy the property located a mile east of the farm, the 50 acres of woods and stream where Grandpa pastured senior calves in summer. I knew they could use the funds from a sale. I was so afraid that this last forest would be gone.

“No thank you. We don’t wish to sell it,” she said to this offer and to many others.

Carl and Joyce Seitz were my grandparents. My grandfather was a dreamer; a handsome rake who was a lover of books. He was a college graduate, but the farm fell to him while the country was dealing with depression and world war. He would drive a tractor and whistle. My grandmother, a college grad, too, was a stylish beauty who became a farmer’s wife. They raised eight children in that farmhouse. In the warm months, the family sometimes picnicked along the creek that flowed through that 50 acres to the east. In winter, they skated on the old flooded stone quarry there.

For as long as I can remember, that place has been called “The Quarry Farm.”

We lost Grandpa 25 years ago. Today, we lost Gran. Because they both valued the black walnut, maple and oak trees that grow here, the dogtooth violets, mayapples, bloodroot and spring beauties on the ridge and in the floodplain–because they were educators and dreamers–The Quarry Farm is still here.

11845208_10207924019201794_3438920111096809137_oDuring a trip home from university, one of my uncles looked out the kitchen window in time to see Gran hand-feeding a skunk. Two weeks ago, I took Sebastian the Skunk to visit her. Gran would have celebrated 101 years in November, but she was sharp as a tack and delighted in ‘Bastian as well as what we do here.

Chryssy the Cat climbs on my lap now. She shared that farmhouse, the one where we all climbed trees, made mud pies, collected fireflies in a jar, photographed migrating monarchs in the trees, and where our Gran worked art in her kitchen while teaching us to reach for the whole world outside.

http://www.lovefuneralhome.com/notices/Miriam-Seitz

In the Storm

IMG_5770[1]Things here at the Quarry Farm are as they are everywhere else it seems. We’re cold, we’re trying to keep warm, and we’re trying to keep everyone else warm. The drifts at the start of the drive are at least four feet deep and the wind persists in howling. The auxiliary heat in the house has kicked up and we humans, when not caring for the animals, are glued to our books and Netflix, covered in layers of dogs and cats and they in turn are covered in blankets and pillows.

Outside, the turkeys are in with Johnny and Andy (Canada goose and duck), the chickens reside in their henhouse, the pygmy goats are staying in their shed, and Buddy and the goats are huddled together beneath their own roof.  So far, we have kept everyone alive.

This cold is dangerous, as the weathermen and sheriff departments keep telling us.  The pigs almost flat-out refuse to go outside—bellowing and pushing backward until we’re able to shove them out the door. Lolly, our bulldog mix, has so little fur to cover her skin, and so it makes the cold that much worse for her. On her first outing she ran out and right back in, but on her second go, she went around to the side of the house, became too cold, and huddled crying beneath the hutch off the side deck. She had to be carried back in the house.

IMG_5780[1]It is Buddy, however, that has made us worry.  He made it through the night, which we worried about, but he is still here. However, as you can see, he is sporting a new look. Quite fetching, I believe.

Our neighbors across the road just plowed out our drive. We saw them start to, but were on a mission to look after another house with animals, so a quick thank you by waving was all that was conveyed. I shouted a thank you across the road when we returned home, but they had already retreated to the warmth. So we shall have to thank them properly later. When it is warmer.

To all:  I hope your days in the snow storm have been at least slightly comfortable. Good luck for the rest of the duration!