Tuesday, January 4, 2011

An Ordinary Day in Winter

This was my view this morning as I sat on the couch and wrote. Do you see my poor little dog stuck outside? Why won't I open the door? Because I'm taking a picture, silly.

(Edit: I write a lot about my dog in this post. I think it a reaction to Jody's post about her dear departed Jessie, an ode that had me in tears this morning.)

It's Tuesday. The children are back in school, suffering. Jack is already asking how many days of school are left this year. I don't think they mind school so much; what they mind is having to get out of bed. Me, too.

My alarm went off at 6:55 a.m. The barest hint of light outside, not enough to make you feel like it was time to be up and at 'em. I have to tell you, the thing that undoes my farm dreams is the idea of having to get up early to take care of animals. I would love to have animals, but I want the nocturnal kind. Owls, maybe. Cows with a yin for late night TV.

Travis, badly in need of a trip to the groomers, is my sole companion during most of the day. After I drop off the boys at school and have breakfast, he and I trot around the neighborhood. We're usually out for about forty-five minutes. When it comes to mid-winter walks in the early morning, I have no pride. I look ridiculous, wrapped up in my many scarves and seventeen layers. But I'm warm, and that's all I care about.

When we get back, I make a cup of tea and sit on the couch to commence writing. I have a study upstairs to work in, but Travis isn't allowed upstairs, so I work downstairs. After Travis gets a bite to eat and a sip of water, he sits next to me on the couch and snoozes for the rest of the morning. He is either full speed ahead or napping. This dog has no in-betweens.

The porch is always a little sad in the winter, though I swept it the other day, so it looks more presentable than it has been lately. Sometimes, when it's warmer, I write at this table, Travis asleep at my feet.

I think the word for our yard right now is barren. See the big empty space in the middle? In a couple of months we'll be plowing it up. Mr. Eddie next door is lending us his tiller. We're going to do a big garden this year. I'm about to put in my order to Johnny's Seeds for potatoes and garlic and Bok Choi and all sorts of good stuff. Peas. Maters*. All of it. Winter is a fine time to think about spring gardens. You forget about mosquitoes and weeds and your own sheer laziness. It's all gravy when you're dreaming about your garden in winter.

(*Maters=tomatoes, in case you're unfamiliar with this pronunciation)

The winter garden, as such, has suffered some with our recent snow and the cold snap before it. The collards have risen to the occasion, but the lettuce pooped out, and the carrots didn't stand a chance. I'm going to try planting some more carrots in pots in late February. I really love the idea of growing carrots in pots. We have heavy clay soil around here, and carrots grown in a regular bed come out stunted.

I wrote for two and a half hours this morning, and I'll sit down for an hour this afternoon after I pick up the boys from school to pave the way for tomorrow's work. I'm revising, and so I'm taking out big chunks and putting new stuff in. I have to be careful. If I take out too many chunks too soon, the whole thing collapses and I'm not sure how to rebuild. But a little bit at a time is manageable.

In a few minutes I leave for my fiddle lesson with my new fiddle in hand. I love my teacher, but I sort of dread my lessons, because it's a very nervous-making thing to play for someone else who's actually paying attention. But usually once I get to my lesson, I have a good time. My days are often pretty devoid of people, so it's nice to have company. And to play music with someone.

Winter days scare me a little. There are long stretches of time where I'm not tethered to much but my own imagination. This can make a girl squirrelly. I do a lot better now that I have Travis. Who is, I believe, outside trying to eat my compost pile as I write this.

An experiment: a music video from YouTube--Mr. Guy Clarke singing "Homegrown Tomatoes," to get us through this winter's day. The sound's not great (I think this footage was taken in the '70s), but the song is a personal favorite:


wayside wanderer said...

Travis sure is a cutie whether he is overdue on a new do or not. Such an expressive face he has. My little doggie is always nearby and when I am gone he suffers from anxiety. Seriously. He can't go everywhere with me!?! I can't really linger on thoughts of when he is gone. sigh. I have never really experienced aloneness like you described but I know it is most likely in my future. I both long for it and dread it. I appreciate your sharing about your ordinary day. It's peaceful and still. And good. I think you probably know some things about yourself in a way that I don't know about me. (Does that make sense?) ~Leslie

Pom Pom said...

Oh, I like Travis! He looks like a warm little comforter.
Your porch is very cool and I can't wait to see your garden this summer!

GretchenJoanna said...

I love hearing about your wintry day routine with Travis. I need to get out in my winter garden, such as it is, and rescue it from the weeds and snails. But I'd rather listen to Guy sing about tomatoes. I love that song, too.

Gumbo Lily said...

The companion at your feet is a great comfort, isn't he? I like your Travis. I have always thought it interesting that dogs like to lay at our feet -- it's as if they worship us or maybe they just like the smell.

I liked looking at your big back yard and imagining it in full-force garden mode. It's going to be beautiful! And Homegrown Tomatoes is one of my all-time favorite tunes and one of my all-time favorite foods!


The dB family said...

Hi there! Thank you for popping by my blog. I love your post! My companion these days is a black Lab named Maverick. He's six months and won't let me out of his sight. Your porch is beautiful! I could imagine spending hours out there dreaming about gardening (and not weeding ever :o)). I've thought of officially declaring that I will be hibernating for the month of January. It's nice to "meet" you!


Angela said...

Enough about the dog - I must say "what a fabulous song!!" Reminds me of that hilarious bit in Lake Wobegon where Garrison Keillor describes bushels of H G Tomatoes.

blessings and Happy New Year xx

magsmcc said...

I love this post! It's magical. The stillness of the cold empty days that have a shiver of dread at the edges. But you. Warm and writing at the heart, watched over by Travis! I did hear that carrots in pots do brilliantly because the slightest stone in the earth will discourage them. Sounds a bit like me. I need a good pot! I like yours a lot!

Tracy said...

The older we get, the more interested we become in being practical instead of just looking the part. I'm impressed that you walk so long out in the bitterest cold! I'm a winter wuss. No walking in the rain and anything under ooohhhh about 10C. Soft!!