Before the snow
Yesterday afternoon, moving fence for the cows on the cusp of dark, the snow began. It came on fast and hard; one moment there was none, the next it was falling in sheets. A squall, I guess you’d call it. I stood quiet in the pasture for a moment, watching the ground turn to white, watching the cows, bent to their feed, seemingly oblivious to the sudden shift in weather. And then I thought of part of a great line from a great James McMurtry song: Impervious to all abuse. I like how good music sticks with you, pops into your head at the most unlikely times. Like right now, this very moment, a line I’ve quoted here before, from one of my favorite Isbell songs: Find me a place/With salt on the roads/Do what I’m told/Buy what I’m sold again
I finished the fence just as our friend Michael stopped by to drop off the generator we’d loaned to him and some other carpenter friends for their trip to Standing Rock. So Michael and I chatted for a time in the driveway, sharing little pieces of our lives. We do that pretty well. For men, anyway. The snow was still barreling down, maybe an inch-and-half, two-inches on the ground already. I was cold, but felt warmed by the presence of my friend, by the lingering image of the cows at their hay, and strangely, I think, by the snow itself. The energy of it. The insistence of it.
Michael departed, and I walked up the hill to the house, lit and warm by my family’s bustling activities within. Outside, it was dark enough now that I could no longer see the cows from twenty feet away. But as I passed by, I heard the distinctive sound of their chewing, interspersed by the rustling of hay as they nosed for the tender bits. The snow letting up a bit now. Soon to stop.