Tuesday, February 23, 2010

neighborhood #4

I looked down at Annie and she looked up at me, smiling. And why wouldn't she be? We'd just sprinted a mile from the cabin out into the blizzard. As soon as I got home from work I changed into coveralls and a parka and harnessed the dogs to the sled. We raced out into the blue dusk light, the snow falling fast. We're in a storm here. Already six inches have covered Cold Antler Farm and another two days of snow are on the way. It is beautiful.

This is what siberian huskies live for. Her and Jazz had been running side by side in harness, doing what they were born to do. I held on to the sled for dear life. The dogs were turbo charged tonight, inspired by the howling snow. I had to ride the runners with only one foot, the other dragging along the side for resistance as we sped down West Sandgate Road. Snow flew everywhere. I was elated. I wish dogsledding was in the winter Olympics. I'd watch them then.

When we got to the farm near Lincoln Lane we trotted to a stop. Next to us was a trio of bay ponies, they came to the fence line to watch us make decisions. I realized we were a mile from the cabin in a snow storm. It was time to turn back. I switched on the lantern in the sled bag, clipped a leather lead to the dogs gangline, and we walked back together side by side. My old dogs are nearing ten. Asking them to carry me uphill was too much. So we walked in the blue light back to our dinners. A girl and her dogs in a squall so thick I couldn't see the mountains a hundred yards away. We were panting and happy. Covered in sweat and snow from the run and watching the ponies watch us as we trudged away. There wasn't a car or unnatural light to be seen. Just us. I turned on the ipod and let some music walk with us.

I had Funeral on, the Arcade Fire's first album. The song Neighborhood #4 (Kettles) came on, and nothing could have been more perfect. A soft and rolling song with the sound of piping hot tea kettles in the background. A song I already knew by heart. I sang to the dogs as we headed uphill. I was already in another place, thanks to the music. I tilted my head over to Annie, who was watching me for some sort of direction. I gave her none, I sang to her instead:

...It's not a lover I want no more,
and it's not heaven I'm pining for,
but there's some spirit I used to know,
that's been drowned out by the radio...

When we got home the dogs shook out their coats and I removed their harnesses to let them rest and drink. While they stretched inside the warm cabin—I headed out back into the storm. Grabbing the lantern, my shepherd's crook, and an armload of hay I fed the sheep and chickens and watched the place in the dark. The farm turns into something else when it's snowing like this in the dark. Remember how it felt to make a fort out of blankets as a kid, and hide inside it with a flashlight and pillows? That is exactly what this place feels like with draping white pines and awkward lights. With the animals fed and on fresh straw—I headed over to the woodpile to stack the evening fire wood. By the time the animals were fed, the wood hauled, and the dogs served their egg, kibble, and lamb dinners...I was famished.

I have been making breads and fast meals for myself for years now. Within four minutes I had yeast bubbling for pizza dough and a dried onion from the summer garden pulled off the wall rack and caramelizing in a skillet. I whipped up a quick pizza and shoved it in the oven while the dogs chomped away. I liked that chickens and sheep keep them going too. I am always the last to eat here. I would not have it any other way.

Now It's evening and I am going to stoke the fire and enjoy a sinfully long hot shower before I change into clean clothes and sink into the couch. There I will play a couple love songs to no one on my guitar, drink a glass of red wine for the hell of it, and call it a day. I'm sore from mushing, thin from the snow, full from dinner, warm from the fire, and looking forward to tomorrow morning: hot coffee and reading with Jazz before sunrise. It's a thing I do.

This was the evening of a corporate web designer.
Our lives are just the sum of what we want them to be.


Blogger DarcC said...

What a life! I really enjoy your writing.

February 23, 2010 at 8:58 PM  
Blogger damnyankee said...

I started following your blog after reading your article in Paste Magazine last month. You have inspired and revitalized my interests for my own farm. It has been snowing non stop here in East Texas. We've gotten at least 6 inches, which is very unusual for this part of the country. Unfortunately I don't have any sled dogs, but I wish I did...

February 23, 2010 at 9:09 PM  
Blogger Laurie said...

So true, Jenna. Wonderful post. There's something to be said for being content with the choices we make. I can hear the contentment in your post, & can totally relate. Life is good!

February 23, 2010 at 9:16 PM  
Blogger T said...

I so enjoy your posts Jenna...thanks muchly!

February 23, 2010 at 9:25 PM  
Blogger Jen (emsun.org) said...

That sounds absolutely delicious. Thank you for sharing that with us!

February 23, 2010 at 9:54 PM  
Blogger Sense of Home Kitchen said...

My, you have a way with words. Turning something ordinary into something special, thank you.

February 23, 2010 at 10:34 PM  
Blogger Jeff_in_Pawlet said...

You gotta tell me how you got that beautiful blue hue!

February 23, 2010 at 10:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Snow is on the way to VA too! My dogs love it too. Has anyone ever knitted with yarn made from plastic bags? This looks like a great idea. I have made braded rugs from bags before but not yarn!http://hellejorgensen.typepad.com/gooseflesh/2007/02/plastic_bag_yar.html

February 23, 2010 at 10:57 PM  
Blogger finsandfeathers said...

"There I will play a couple love songs to no one on my guitar, drink a glass of red wine for the hell of it, and call it a day. I'm sore from mushing, thin from the snow, full from dinner, warm from the fire, and looking forward to tomorrow morning: hot coffee and reading with Jazz before sunrise. It's a thing I do."


February 23, 2010 at 11:09 PM  
Blogger Paula said...

'nuther great post, Jenna. Your picture was very evocative. Probably the epitome of evocative-ness. Actually, come to think of it, your writing is as well. You have a really great gift for taking us all along with you.

February 23, 2010 at 11:20 PM  
Blogger Mary said...

Wonderful! I know you love the snow. I hear you are in for a "snow hurricane" on Friday, with hurricane force winds and over a foot of snow on top of what you have. I know you are prepared, but be sure you are ready for this one and possible lengthy power outages. Good luck, and thanks for sharing.

February 24, 2010 at 5:50 AM  
Blogger Mary Ann said...

Wonderful story. My heart dog, Norman, who has been gone for many years now, was a malamute. I am not sure there is anything as heartwarming as watching a snow dog bounce and play and throw himself about in the snow.

Thanks for warming up some memories for me.

February 24, 2010 at 5:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow!!! Another awesome post.

February 24, 2010 at 5:54 AM  
Blogger ashley english said...

what's your go-to pizza dough recipe? pardon if you've posted it on c.a.f. before. i've yet to encounter one that i really like.

good call on funeral. the arcade fire were here in asheville april almost three years ago. the show was sold out in a large auditorium, everyone was dancing and singing along (so very asheville), we were in the second row and couldn't have been having more fun.

February 24, 2010 at 8:39 AM  
Blogger CallieK said...

Love the post and your mention of Arcade Fire reminded me that I want to talk music with you! Wondered if you were familiar with Genticorum?


And also wondered where I can purchase a cd of your music?

February 24, 2010 at 9:06 AM  
Blogger Chance said...

We're getting dumped upon up here in Burlington this fine morning as well. The trees are hanging heavy with snow and this is just the "small storm" -- looking at the weather, I think it is a nor'easter for Friday. Gathering some snowed-in supplies now and checking the pantry.

I'm with you. The entire time, watching the Olympics, I grumbled "Why curling? If we get curling, why can't dog sledding be an Olympic sport?"

February 24, 2010 at 9:35 AM  
Blogger BJ Gingles said...

"Our lives are just the sum of what we want them to be."


I loved this post.

February 24, 2010 at 10:08 AM  
Blogger greendria said...

Awesome post.

February 24, 2010 at 10:17 AM  
Blogger TINA!! said...

Thanks for being here Jenna!! I loved your book and really dig your blog!! GREATly iNSpiring that you do all of this on your own!
Big hugs from Wisconsin!~~Tina

February 24, 2010 at 10:52 AM  
Blogger mySavioReigns said...

Gosh that is a good post. I love the last few paragraphs, specifically. It sounds so sublime.

February 24, 2010 at 3:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

HEY JENNA!! There was a cool segment on the Today show 2/25 about a blind sled dog who still works! You would have loved it. I did, and I don't even mush! (But I'd sure love to.) You're right. Dogsled definitely needs to be an Olympic sport!

February 25, 2010 at 10:06 AM  
Blogger Sherry Sutherby http://russ-stickacres.blogspot.com/ said...

There's nothing like dog power...nothing.

We, too, had a blind sled dog "Teaspoon" who ran Iditarod. He lived a long life and passed on at 18 years old.

I love my life as a musher...having 21 sled dogs nestled next to our cabin. I'll never be without Northern breed dogs.

February 25, 2010 at 12:32 PM  
Blogger Melanie J. said...

I keep coming back to this one. You write well and articulate beautifully the raw flavors and colors of a life well-lived. Thank you again, Jenna.

February 25, 2010 at 9:23 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

It has to be said -- you're a great writer. Thanks for sharing!

February 28, 2010 at 1:51 PM  

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