The weather is unstable, the barometer rises and falls. I slumber in the reclining chair because it’s too uncomfortable to lay down still. I hear the jingling of bells hung on the door, that will someday aid my new puppy in alerting me he needs to go outside, as TheMan comes in from feeding and caring for the animals, as I am still unable to do it myself. He throws hay and checks waterers for my old horse, Mister, the little band of hair sheep and their lambs, gives SushiMoo, my last milk cow her grain, feeds the chickens and ducks and takes care of the band of leppie calves in the corral beyond the high rock wall. I hear the cornflakes bounce off the sides of his bowl as he prepares himself some breakfast, then gives me a kiss goodbye and he and his faithful Scottie head off to work on whatever the ranch needs him to do today. He works 7 days a week because that is ranch life. There is always something that needs doing and cows don’t take weekends off. It’s hard work but it’s a good life. He’ll come back for lunch and then for dinner and if I am not able, he fixes that and does the dishes as well. It wasn’t always like this, I remember working 3 jobs and trying to take care of my family. A few hours a day as a bookkeeper, returning home to ride colts and give lessons, then do his paperwork at night for the small company we started making livestock panels and kennels. Housecleaning, laundry, dinner and dishes were always needing attention with four kids in the house. He always pitched in to help where he could. Now things are different. I have so much I want to do, but cannot. One of the hard things about this disease is not knowing from one day to the next if I will be able to function. I’m grateful for my new knee and contemplate the love my family showed me the many weeks I was in their care while recovering as they selflessly fit me into their schedules at doctors, hospitals, home while they all still had to work their full time jobs and take care of their own children and homes. It is the flip-side of this disease, that I would never wish to be disabled or reliant on my kids, not be a burden, but because I often am, I’ve no doubt of their love. Through my travails they standby and lift me up and rather than bitter because of my pain, my heart is full.
I marvel at the faithfulness of God and my family to one so unworthy...because I do feel unworthy, unable to do my part anymore, unable to help out, instead always needing. It’s not a comfortable place for me and I don’t do it with the grace of someone like Joni Tada or others whose struggles are greater and more insurmountable than my own. But I am grateful, that He has shown me I don’t have to be worthy to be loved. He promises that over and over, in His book to me, and His work on my behalf, and it is illustrated to me through my family and I am awed, all at once both humbled and grateful.
The sun is out this morning and with some difficulty, I step out on the back porch and hear the call of the mourning doves and the chirping of the smaller birds as they fill their little chests and hearts with the fresh spring air. The ducks watch me covertly (they think...but I can see them there on the lawn, still as statues).
The warmth of morning shines down from the East and I can see the garden slowly coming back to life, with all His promise to me that “Weeping is for a night but joy comes in the morning”
(Psalm 30:5). The green swordlike blades of the iris have pressed through the rocky soil and will soon bear flowers with falls of bright yellow, purple and one sky blue. The long canes of climbing rosebushes are already covered with small, shiny green leaves as they hide under the tumbleweeds and mustard that always ends up in our yard along the wall after the harsh winter winds. The lawn is greening up again, the fruit trees have flowered and promise sweet juicy apricots, apples and peaches later in the year. I notice a small nest in the big tree by the house, probably from last year. Amazing how something as small and delicate as a bird can create a nest durable enough to get through one of our winters. Another small miracle. Blue and purple pansies have burst forth in the half barrel by the door from the seeds their parent plants dropped last year and the perennial plants and flowers peek their heads out of the soil, pregnant with promise.
It's still chilly out so I step back inside and my eye is captured by the few houseplants that helped carry me through a long winter indoors. Even those have been a gift beyond measure, evidence that there is life all around me and it's not all about me.
I peruse the living room, plotting a plan of attack, should my body allow it. The dust lies thick on the furniture, both a result of neglect and living on a ranch in a 100 yr old house with windows and doors that, while still closed, will generously allow the wind in to blow my hair in my face. One of the perks of ranch life is that you never lack something to do. There is always housework, no matter how much of it you may have done the day before, and in the unlikely event it should stay done for a day, there are always the cabins and employee housing the boss’ wife needs help with, since people are in and out of here all the time. But I am tethered to our little old rock and concrete house, at least for the moment. I eye the new dog crate that stands by the sofa and simultaneously feel a stab of sorrow over the loss of my wonderful old friend Cider and a flush of hope over the new puppy that will be coming home with me this spring. I imagine him as he might be, looking forward to teaching him all that I taught Cider and then some, consider the laughter he will undoubtedly bring back into my life and the companionship that will come with it. Soon the hummingbirds will be back and the butterflies.
Until then, I will rely on my short and infrequent visits from the Maremmas, who warmly give me nose bumps and tiny doggie kisses, moan to show their appreciation as I rub their ears then, quickly satisfied, lay by the door anxious for someone to let them back out with their sheep.
I opt to fight some of the mats on Mr Potamus in lieu of cleaning house. He always manages to pick up the worst kind of burrs and stickers to wind up in his long fur and become impossibly tangled. It's difficult to attack them with just one hand, but I manage to get most of it done and he lays all nice and fluffy again on the floor which is now messier than before. Better done before the big cleaning than after.
There is much to look forward to, and while waiting, I dance, if only in my mind. Life is good. God is good.