Walks around here take special meaning. Steps must be careful and calculated if you don't want your butt to meet the fate of the cold and icy ground. But as you look closely at the snow-covered walkways to ensure you stay upright, you begin to notice the life of the farm.
Moving up the hill from the farmhouse to the apple orchards, one old and one new, the clucking of hens might stop you in your tracks. On warmer days the ladies will hang out in front of the roost, lining the dirt path like anxious kids waiting for the parade to start. They seem suspicious of my presence at first but ultimately decide that their feed is more important than my gaze.
My feet turn right and I veer off the path, moving instead towards the western most apple orchard. Anton and Sadie have crept up into the trees with their bright orange ladder creating a sharp contrast against the grays and browns of January. If you look closely, and put your ear to the wind, you can begin to hear the lessons take place. Today is the first time that Sadie has climbed the trees to prune, an eager and highly capable student. You can see her hands moving quickly, back-and-forth, back-and-forth, and without getting so close that I disturb the valuable passing of information, my head assumes that the pruning practice involves the careful sawing of branches.
Coming further south, the road continues towards a distant house that I hadn't noticed before. Perhaps this is a seasonal home, with it's inhabitants only occupying space during the warmer months, though around here that seems unlikely. I moved closer, spotting a rogue Birch tree on the right just screaming to be noticed amidst the surrounding forest of upright brown bark. Birch trees in January always remind me of lightly fallen snow, constructing the image of wintery wonderlands that santa leaves last on his sleigh rides, so that he might keep that particular oasis in his dreams for next year.
The ground beneath me begins to ice over and my heart decides that the upcoming house's inhabitants, if there, may not be welcoming visitors at this hour. I dart left and climb a meager slope into a flat field covered in snow. Wondering what transpires here as my steps crunch into the cold ground, I look around to search for clues. No traces of vegetable farming and the grass feels too long to have been used for grazing. Admittedly however, my farming experience is limited to paperback books and the occasional conversation, so chances are my assumptions are both bold and inaccurate.
The northern line of the field begins to edge closer to my boots but before my journey in the field closes I do begin to notice an assortment of visitor clues. Most notably, a large hoof has indented the snow and iced over, leaving a remarkably large and pointed pig print. I can only assume that her name is Gloria and she weighs a meager 200 pounds. Perhaps her skin is a mixture of pink and black Rorschach ink blots and her goal, to eat as much compost as her snout deems possible.
Headed home, my feet make their way back down the road towards the shiny red farmhouse. I wave hello to the chickens again and this time they seem less anxious to see me. After thanking them for the eggs that they provided this morning I decide my imagination has been inspired enough and it may be time to head home for a hot cup of cinnamon tea.