"The wind begun to rock the grass
with threatening tunes and low,
He flung a menace at the earth,
A menace at the sky.
The leaves unhooked themselves from trees
And started all abroad;
The dust did scoop itself like hands
And throw away the road.
The wagons quickened on the streets,
The thunder hurried slow;
The lightening showed a yellow beak,
And then a livid claw.
The birds put up the bars to nests,
The cattle fled to barns;
There came one drop of giant rain,
And then, as if the hands
That held the dams had parted hold,
The waters wrecked the sky,
But overlooked my father's house,
Just quartering a tree.
Yesterday was a difficult day for me on the farm. Thomas and I started the baking early, as usual for Friday mornings. I mechanically measured out flour and milk and honey and yeast, stirring and proofing, kneading and shaping. All the while I wondered. Waiting for the results on the final day of searching for John and Judy's son Craig Arnold. Knowing that good news would come out early. Bad news would come, hesitatingly, regretfully, sorrowfully.
Funny how a heavy heart is bad for productivity. Hope tried to surface. But every trip to the computer screen sucked out a little more of that hope. Thomas waited for me to kick into our normal high gear. I slogged through the morning drinking too much coffee.
We made our 45 pizza crusts. We started a few baguettes. We proofed dough for 20 loaves of Milk and Honey bread. The cow was milked. The goats were milked. I paused a few more times seeking confirmation on the computer.
The email box had a letter from John and Judy. Brief. To the point. Craig's trail had been picked up. It ended at the edge of a very steep cliff. Below the cliff was a deep and dangerous valley. Too dangerous to continue the search. Apparently Craig was lost, it was dark, he had sustained a leg injury, slipped and fell to his death.
41 years old. Father to Robin. Brother of Chris, loved by Rebecca, eldest son of John and Judy. Not to mention friend to many, professor, poet.
We had all hoped and prayed for a miracle.
As I read their letter and wept, the girls came in the house and told me that Maggie needed help in the barn. Lucy, one of our first time mama ewes had gone into labor. There was trouble. Two little black hooves were sticking out, nothing more. Her contractions had stopped. She had probably been in labor a good many hours. I reached inside to determine the positioning of the baby. Breech. Too far into the birth canal to easily rotate. Besides, the little legs and hooves were dirty and I didn't want to risk any more contamination than what was neccesary.
Maggie help Lucy. I pulled. And pulled. We finally were able to deliver the baby, legs and tail first. He was dead. More than likely died hours before. We waited. I washed up and did another internal examination to make sure there was not another dead lamb inside her. This started up contractions again and she was able to deliver the afterbirth. We took care of the dead lamb and left Lucy alone to recover.
I returned to the house, changed clothes, washed up and got back to baking.
The air was heavy. The sky sullen. I wept a little for my friends, tried to become efficient, didn't succeed. Drank more coffee. Went through motions. Decided that I needed a little margin and called friends to man the market for me.
The storm finally hit around 7 or 8 last night. Maggie came in from feeding baby goats and told me that lightening was striking everywhere. The thunder boomed. Blackie our dog came trembling into the bathroom to hide in the bathtub. Rain came crashing down.
Seemed like the perfect ending to a difficult day. All through the night the thunder came rolling through the valley. I prayed for the grieving ones to know the hope that exists when all hope is lost. That God would show Robin and Chris and Rebecca and John and Judy that he loves them. Even when nothing makes sense.
This morning the thunder continued to rumble, but further in the distance. Gradually the midnight blue clouds were swept away and the farm sparkled in crayon box colors. Fifteen shades of green popped against sky blue sky. Brick red barn with silver roof opened up the door to pink pigs and brown and white goats and black and white sheep. Raw Umber and Raw Sienna cows munched grass green grass littered with lemon yellow buttercups. Mahogany chickens delighted in red worms.
I drank a few more cups of coffee and read the paper listening to stream, feeling warm breeze dry the earth. The milk was strained and chilling. Babies were fed. Lucy was fine. I walked through the sodden garden and noticed that more lettuce has come up. Some beans have sprouted. The weeds are coming in nicely. Must hoe rows as soon as it dries out a little. Dear friends are selling my bread for me so I can be still for a moment and pray for the Arnolds. Later Philip and I will celebrate his 51st birthday. But now, be still.
I hope that we would all learn to take time to be still. Certain griefs merit a moment of silence.
PS The snowball bush is blooming and the irises have started to bloom. A friend from town brought me a huge bouquet of irises from her garden in Vinton and they are perfuming the dining room. She came over yesterday afternoon and gave me a big hug right when I needed one. So glad for friends.