Tuesday, April 26, 2011


The maple tree outside my house was swaying in the dark tonight, heavy with its new buds just starting to bloom. This same tree was covered in ice so heavy it bowed to me, just a few weeks ago. Now there's a blanket of grass around it, and little brave pullets pecking at its trunk. In the dark, against the black sky, that maple looks massive in an ancient way. Who knows how many farms and families it has watched over since it was sapling. In just a year it has seen so much. I played a banjo under that old tree tonight. I hung a dead pig from it when the world was ice. Children of friends (and I) have climbed it. Birdhouses hung like ursine pinatas. My brother in law pulled a chair under it to cool off last July, and a gray kitten called it home base. It's much of this farm and this loud farmer, far better than both in its silence.

Everything here is turning green, and nights are starting to roll into this hefty humidity of early summer. Last night a thunderstorm shook the house so loud that I actually thought the roof collapsed. I didn't know if I should get dressed to assess damage or just close my eyes and hope for the best. I opted for the later. Turns out the roof made it, but some tree limbs did not.

The sheep are in a safehold now. My Easter Sunday was not spent as planned. I was supposed to join the Daughton family for a big meal at their farm in White Creek (two towns south) and called them sad to cancel. After a week of escaping sheep, complaints (and help) from neighbors, and one ewe leaping right over the gate towards my truck...I realized I needed to use this last day off from work before the week started to secure my animals. Farms do no recognize holidays.

When I told the Daughton's this, they simply said. "Oh, well, we'll bring Easter to you then" and in a few hours they had set up (on a table they brought, since I don't have one yet) a full Easter dinner with ham, salads, pickles, cake, and finger snacks. They brought me a hand-made bluebird house and I almost wept. I have never had friends willing to uproot an entire family holiday to help me keep sheep off a road.

We spend the afternoon setting up wire and testing lines and by sunset my sheep were being shocked away from danger and my belly was full. Tonight while I walked the perimeter of the fence to pick up any pulled wires and reset it before bed, I thanked them again. I don't know if they heard it, but I said it.

Wind picked up all around me and the stars started to disappear into the black above my mountain. The weather report called for more storms this night, and the air felt humid, which I love. Humidity gets a horrible reputation because it makes people temporarily uncomfortable. It lasts a few months and then it's gone, and it leaves trails of thunderstorms, lush grass, fireflies and warmed working farmer bodies in its tail strands as it saunters through in hot gasps. I love humidity, and so does the old Maple. Who watched my clumsy farm's Easter in quiet. And knows more stories than I can bear.


Blogger Karen said...

Do you adore the smell of the maple flowers? I just started smelling the ones around me today, and it just says "Spring is in full swing" to me.

April 26, 2011 at 10:00 PM  
Blogger Ann said...

Spring in full swing down here in North Carolina. Friends are the best when you're in need or down and out. A true friend always comes to your aid. I am blessed by one and it sounds as if you are too. So happy all the sheep were retrieved.

April 26, 2011 at 10:10 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...


April 26, 2011 at 10:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We have a big maple and a very large, (very messy) pin oak that is one of the prettiest trees I've ever seen. It's so big and so close to my house, we don't even realize how beautiful it is till we drive home from somewhere and see it in the distance.

Like yours, this one has seen kids climbing, birds nesting, and provided lovely shade (and mold, leaves, debris, etc.) on our deck. My grown kids still value this tree and my cats used to climb it, too. The one remaining now is too old to do so, but she still watches the bird action.

I do love trees and their secret stories. Right now tree pollen is horrific here (Eastern Shore of MD) but it will be over and then there will just be the lovely shade for our very hot, very humid summer.

And I, too, say a grateful thanks to your friends who came through for you. You are so blessed to have them...and they to have you.

April 26, 2011 at 10:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a huge maple in our yard that like yours, has seen many years, many children and lots of birds, wildlife and love. I adore my maple, every year we lose bits and pieces, but so far it's holding strong.

What wonderful friends you have. That's what life should be for everyone. You are blessed!

April 26, 2011 at 10:43 PM  
Blogger Kris said...

Jenna, you are surely blessed to have freinds like those. Cherish them. They are friends I would love to have near me. Not many people would have done that.

I am so glad you got the fence fixed.

April 26, 2011 at 11:44 PM  
Blogger Paula said...

I have a sweet gum like that. It's amazing how much cooler the air is on its side of the house than the other, all because of its respiration. I call it The Biggest Sweet Gum Known To Mankind because it's easily the largest, tallest sweet gum I've ever seen. I don't think it's any older than this house though, which was built in 1976. So I don't think it has the stories your maple has.

I bet it has more raccoons though.

April 27, 2011 at 12:04 AM  
Blogger Kootenay said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

April 27, 2011 at 12:45 AM  
Blogger Tami said...

...and now the tears well up. I miss humidity. I miss it's warmth. At present I find myself curled up on the couch in flannel, covered up with a crochet blanket, memories of years past, dreams of years to come, and tears.

April 27, 2011 at 12:57 AM  
Blogger Donna said...

I miss the east so much and the trees. Not only in spring when bloom and leaf out but when they give their fall show. The humidity, I miss that too, it serves to remind you to slow to a stroll and look around. Here we are always in a stinking rush it seems.

April 27, 2011 at 1:49 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Another masterpiece Jenna, Thanks for making my morning.

April 27, 2011 at 6:17 AM  
Blogger sheila said...

Farming friends are the best! They get what you are going through and pitch in. Don't worry you'll get your chance to return the favor someday. Farmers were the original pay it forward community.

April 27, 2011 at 6:30 AM  
Blogger Kate said...

This post made me rant to cry.

April 27, 2011 at 7:55 AM  
Blogger Alison said...

Our 1847 farmhouse was fronted by the most massive & beautiful sugar maple I've ever known. That will always be my favorite tree in the world, even after it falls. It will always call to me, and its memory will be home for me. So, I get your tie to your maple.

That's definitely something I miss down here in NC, is the beautifully rounded forms of the patient sugar maples. Yup, I'm a tree hugger, and proud of it! At least you don't have to worry about them jumping a fence. :)

April 27, 2011 at 8:29 AM  
Blogger Chestnut Farm said...

So happy you got to enjoy a lovely Easter dinner with your neighbors....Been wanting to ask you this ~ Can you add a link somewhere on your blog to all the recipes you have posted? Would be so nice to have them all in one place....PLEASE!!! Thanks so much!

April 27, 2011 at 8:38 AM  
Blogger katiegirl said...

Glad you got your fence up. What great friends you have!

But I disagree about humidity. I hate it. We're surrounded by water here, on the Eastern Shore of MD. The humidity chokes you in the summer. It's awful. Yes sir, I could do without it. I can't ever imagine missing it. LOL

April 27, 2011 at 9:01 AM  
Blogger treehuggers kitchen said...

What fabulous friends you have. Hold onto them dearly. I thought of you yesterday, Jenna, when I was driving past the same house that I drive by almost everyday. They have chickens, and every once in a while I'll see them scratching around the yard. Yesterday as I drove past, I noticed an older man in the driveway working on something or other. I'm normally somewhat of a shy person, but when I saw that he was outside and the chickens were pecking around, I just had to stop and introduce myself with nothing more than "Hi, I live up the road and have chickens too". I thought of you and how your always saying that the farming type of people are the friendliest you'll meet. So there we stood, discussing roosters, pigs, gardens, eggs and predators. I was fully content. I thought about how neat it was that here stood a woman in her early thirties, pierced and tattoo'ed up talking to an older gentleman just like we were old friends. I think the Universe smiled.

April 27, 2011 at 9:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a wonerful Easter story! We took advantage of our bottle lambs and took gratuitous 'baby animal in an Easter basket' photos :)

I love spring thunderstorms- can't think of a more powerful and welcome changing of the guards.

April 27, 2011 at 9:49 AM  
Blogger Joeby said...

What a great post! Just what I needed today. Being grounded to a place (or experience, or people), and being reminded that being grounded brings peace, is a great thing to hear.
Thanks again!

April 27, 2011 at 9:57 AM  
Blogger Ivanhoe said...

Mmm. So cozy. Your writing is hot chocolate by a fireplace.

April 27, 2011 at 12:57 PM  
Blogger cooterhollow said...

being shocked away from danger! I now have a new approach every time I wince at the pigs squealing.

April 27, 2011 at 1:17 PM  
Blogger Kyler and Sylvia said...

After reading this last night, I had a dream about a HUGE maple tree, towering above all the other trees around it. The yard sort of looked like FarmVille. Anyways, great post. :)

April 27, 2011 at 3:34 PM  
Blogger Karen said...

Very nicely said, Jenna. I understand the "farms do not recognize holidays" thing - we planted seeds on Easter Sunday.

April 28, 2011 at 2:27 PM  

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