• Last modified 523 days ago (Feb. 27, 2020)



© Another Day in the Country

It was Tuesday morning, to be exact, when I drove out of town, past the cemetery, past my Grandpa’s old barn still standing (looking the same), turned toward Hope and K-4 that leads west toward Abilene, and suddenly, on the horizon, snaking across the sky was a huge, HUGE flock of birds. 

“The starlings are doing acrobatics again,” was my first thought. “But so many?”

I kept trying to get a good look at them while driving and finally just stopped on the deserted road. The birds were coming closer.

Now instead of just specs in the sky, you could see their individual shapes, although still small, sparrow sized.

“Could it be geese?” I wondered.

They were still far away. Surely not geese. This is the beginning of February.

“If it’s geese, they are either too early or too late to be migrating,” I muttered to no one in particular.

Finally, I settled on starlings. Such a huge, undulating flock. It had to be starlings. And then I drove on down the road as they gathered in the sky, dipped and swirled in my peripheral vision.

In Abilene there were other things to think about besides “Was this a flock of starlings — if so huge?” or “Could this be a flock of geese — if so, not in their usual ‘V’ formation and so many at once?” 

It was exercise time. Someone was on my favorite bike, so I walked on the treadmill for awhile beside my buddy Gordon pedaling away at 92! DeAnne, on the rowing machine, lifted one arm to wave “hello.” We know the drill.

“Exercise for awhile and then stop and chat over a cup of coffee.”

At 10 o’clock they go home, and I go back to my routine.

My next stop is the library, where I deliver and pick up an armful of books to peruse. It almost seems like a national emergency to me if I run out of books to read. I’m always on the prowl for good books.

I read a good book this past week called, “Things You Save in a Fire,” by Katherine Center. It’s the story of a young firefighter, deserted by her mother when she was a teenager, and then her phone rings and it’s her estranged mother asking for help.

It’s a great story that raises all kinds of questions about absent parents, obligation, children of divorce, hidden abuse, compassion, love, and forgiveness. 

Then it’s the grocery store. I’m hunting for jicama. They had it last week and ran out by the time I got there. Really? A run on jicama in Kansas?

“And why are you hunting for it,” you might ask.

It’s because my fifth grade art students are learning about Frida Kahlo, a flamboyant, imperfect, surrealistic artist of Mexican/German descent.

“She used bright colors,” I tell my students. “She painted herself most often and gave herself a unibrow, for which she became known. She overcame tremendous adversity and loved to wear traditional Mexican-Indian dresses to hide a crippled leg. She loved heavy jewelry, Shalimar perfume and jicama!”

I wonder what the kids will remember about her, and, I want them to taste jicama — the vegetable without much flavor, mostly texture (which is also something we’re learning about in art). 

And then, I was on my way home to Ramona where there was granulated snow coming down, like someone had spilt a box of detergent. About 1½ miles from town, something white caught my eye in a field.

“It’s snow geese!”

They were in a field where milo grew a few months ago.

And then I see that the field is covered with geese! Most of them are Canada geese, their colors blending perfectly with the stubble and moist ground. They look just like clumps of dirt thrown up by a plow and not big birds at all, until they move. There’s just a splattering of snow geese thrown into the mix.

I just had to stop and marvel again.

“So, it was you that I saw a couple of hours ago,” I say to the birds. “You are so beautiful!”

Thankfully, there’s still not a lot of traffic on the road into Ramona. I can just stop and stare.

That’s the thing about spending another day in the country. You never know what you are going to encounter.

One minute it’s geese darkening the sky. The next, it’s chickens needing water.

The minute I got home I headed over to check my hens. It’s getting colder again at night so I turned on the heat lamp.

To keep Trixie from falling asleep in the water dish, under the heat, I moved the light higher and the water over out from under the direct rays, putting the water at risk of freezing, which would then mean thirsty chickens, which could then affect egg production, etc.

Cause and effect! We live with it intimately in the country. 

The water wasn’t frozen. Today’s count: 18 eggs. Pretty good for 19 extremely talkative, surprisingly tame, very young hens!

Last modified Feb. 27, 2020