This Moment: Tilt -A- Whirl

A Friday ritual. 

A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. 

A simple, special, extraordinary moment.

A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

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Summer Heat

I’m not a big fan of summer. Here, where we have four distinct and wildly different seasons (Mud, Jungle, Perfect and Cold), it doesn’t even make it into my top two.

In the winter when temperatures dip down low I go outside and instantly wake up. The frigid air is bracing making certain I know I’m alive. I’m ready to explore and go and do and conquer the world! Or at least have a quick adventure before I go read a book during the extra long night.

In the summer I go outside and the heat feels nice.

For 37 seconds.

Then I melt into a puddle.

A puddle of lethargy and

apathy

and

despair

and

sweat

and

never

want

to

move

again.

But, there are things in the summer worth fighting the heat for. Beach visits, canoe trips and swimming pools (which not coincidentally are all things that involve water where one can cool off) and a few non-watery activities like picking these:

For a bucketful of wild black raspberries I’ll sweat and swat bugs for a long time. Well, at least twenty minutes.

I’m not a big fan of summer.

But, today the girls and I ate wild black raspberry pie with ice cream for a late, lazy, summer breakfast and summer seemed just fine.

 

Dinosaur-Hearted by Ra Avis

Poetry is not for everyone.

Or is it?I read through this collection of poems about love, and not romantic love, but love of life and children, love of family and friends, love of the frightfully wondrous world we live in and thought through it all…

-Oh! My friend should read this one!

-Oh! My cousin would love this!

-Oh! I should send this to my friends with the new baby!

-Oh!

-Oh!

-Oh!

And so, by the end, after mentally assigning a different person to each bit of poetry, I’ve changed my mind.

Poetry, this poetry, is for everyone.

Would I recommend it? Yes! It’s not only poems either, some of the pieces are longer and maybe one should call them essays but it sounds too stodgy for a book filled with doodles and personal touches that make it crystal clear by the time you reach the end of the book that you, yes you, are loved.

 

Farewell Roosty

Our rooster, “Roosty” has moved on to the big chicken coop in the sky.

He kept track of all his ladies as they free-ranged together for over six years, outlived all the hens and never once used these impressive spurs on a person.

He was a good rooster.

We’ve got a batch of young birds with a few roosters in it and I’ll be crossing my fingers hoping one of them may be worthy of taking Roosty’s place.

Like this old post from 2014 says, he was worth his weight in chicken feed…

Worth His Weight In Chicken Feed

When you have chickens, like we do, and in conversation you mention that you also have a rooster, like we do, one of two things generally happens.

Either, people say something along the lines of, “Of course, because otherwise you wouldn’t get any eggs right?” and then you try not to physically slap your forehead in frustration with the poor biology background of the general populace and go on to give a well rehearsed mini-biology lesson of your own.

Or, they say something along the lines of, “But don’t you worry it’s going to attack your children, kill your cats, run your dogs out of the neighborhood and crow night and day driving you crazy?!?” and then you try not to sigh, because they clearly have had a traumatic rooster incident and now you must gently explain to that, despite the incident that scarred them for life, your rooster is quite well behaved because anything less than stellar behavior would earn him a quick trip to the soup pot.

Rarely someone will nod knowingly, perhaps a fellow poultry person, because they know that a good rooster in a free range flock is worth the chicken feed he eats and more. In fact, I will go so far as to say I would never want to have a flock without one.Roosty with hens

I’m not exactly sure what goes through a hen’s brain as she walks around doing her chickeny things but none of it seems to have to do with awareness of surroundings  and self-preservation. It’s possible the chicken crossed the road because the rooster wasn’t around to tell her it was a dumb idea.  While the hens are happily meandering about, the rooster (the current one goes by name of Roosty) is on guard duty.  A hawk flies overhead and the hens continue to scratch at the ground – until Roosty (yes, the kids named him) spots it. He’ll give an alarm call and quick as a wink the chickens all vanish under bushes and whatever else they can find, and hunker down until it’s gone. While we’ve lost chickens to hawks between roosters, we’ve yet to have them get one since Roosty’s been on the job!

Whenever his guard duties aren’t demanding his immediate attention, Roosty busies himself by searching the ground for extra treats, calling his ladies over to share whatever he finds.  And as his final rooster duty, he has proven himself with an impressive fertility rate on eggs I gave a friend to hatch. Since she lives in town with a cap on chicken numbers and a ban on roosters, the extras were sent back to us. When all was said and done we had seven extra roosters.

Not all roosters are created equal and chances of nastiness seem to increase the more you have.  And this situation was no different. But even though the new roosters were crowing up a storm and starting to do quite a bit of posturing and mini rooster fights amongst themselves, the young boys were, well, scrawny. As we waited for them to get a bit plumper, Roosty had his work cut out for him.Roosty

All the birds would be peacefully roaming around when one of the young (and might I add slightly evil) roosters would spy a lone hen and take off like an arrow through the grass after her. Stretched out, flattened to the ground, running full tilt they’d race across the orchard, joined by any other young rooster that may have caught sight of them. When the youngsters caught the poor girl, the whole group would start in on behavior that would earn them a decent amount of jail time if they were human. Fortunately Roosty was on the job. As soon as he heard the commotion, he’d go running and flapping across the yard and shove himself right into the middle of the chaos. I never saw him fight another rooster, he’d just strut into the middle and the young boys would break it off. Straightening up, they’d slink away as if trying to say “What? I wasn’t doing anything! Besides I was just leaving anyway…” and Roosty would usher the poor hen back toward the rest of the flock.

While watching this show was both entertaining and educational,  it was also very noisy for us humans and looked exhausting for the chickens. We were all sticking it out waiting for the new boys to get just a bit bigger when one of them pecked at Jane. Not only did he peck  her leg but then he stood watching Jane scream with feathers plumped in a threatening manner until I came at a run to give him the boot (literally) and rescue her. Sadly, Roosty’s fierce protective instincts don’t extend to anything without feathers. While I love having a rooster around, we have a one strike rule when it comes to aggression toward humans. Roosty has never so much as looked at us sideways, but this young rooster had crossed the line.

With that single and final strike, it was time for all the roosters to go.Roosty

And just like that we are back to lone rooster status. The crowing has receded to a barely noticeable level, the freezer has a few new packages and Roosty, still on the job, looks just a bit more relaxed without his added duties.

So next time someone tells you they have a rooster, nod your head sagely and smile because now you know. A good rooster is worth that extra chicken feed.

 

Waiting With A Camera

When you have kids you wait.

You wait for babies to wake up, kids to eat, shoes to be found, shoes to be put on, shoes to be discarded, new shoes to be found and new shoes to be put on. You wait for really, really, long stories to be told, one last swing, three hundred million tricks to be performed and kids to fall asleep.

When you have kids you wait.

A lot.

In theory during all this waiting I could focus all my love and attention on my wonderful children. (Three hundred million tricks people!?! I ran out of attention long before we hit 500,000.)

In theory I could practice zen like patience and being calm. (Hello, my name is Jessie, have we met?)

In practice I take pictures.

Taking pictures looks just like focusing all your attention on your children but really it’s the camera that is focused on the kids while your brain focuses on lighting and composition. As an added bonus, with the wonders of digital photography, zen like patience is completely unnecessary as you can just click and click and click some more.

Now pulling out a camera when forced to inactivity is my default mode.

Today I was waiting for Jane.

I wait for Jane all the freakin’ time often. This time I was waiting as she crossed a foot bridge at my parents’ house. The bridge used to be a Billy Goats Gruff bridge.  Now, partially under construction, it’s more like the tightrope at the circus.

Jane was not impressed.

Falling off the bridge would have dropped her a maximum of two feet into shallow water and mud. I was unimpressed by her drama and sat down to wait.

Of course that really meant that I sat down and started taking pictures.

Balancing her way toward me with all the flair and high drama of a real tightrope act, she caught me snapping a photo.

“MOM! THIS IS NOT THE TIME FOR PICTURES!”

I’m not sure she was correct on that. It sure seemed like a good time for pictures to me. But it became quite clear that it was most certainly not the time for laughter.

Note: If you are going to laugh at children in the throes of high drama, I highly recommend hiding your face behind a nice large DSLR camera rather than the smallest smart phone on the market.