In Like A Lamb

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I am not one for resolutions no matter the time of year. Those of you who know me, or those of you who have been following my writing (and honestly, those might/could be one and the same), might be aware that I have landed on one certain New Years goal that I have recycled annually three time now. I don’t see the need to set myself up for possible failure because that only leads to disappointment. Well anyway, I have decided to make a resolution which I will attribute to the Chinese New Year even though it most likely is completely independent of the event. I was walking down the drive way to fetch the mail for my grandma and grandpa. It was a beautiful day. About 18° with sunshine. The skys were clear and it was late in the afternoon making for a soft golden glow on everything. The snow looked like soft butter and the mowed down cornfield I was walking towards was bathed in the soft light. The only ugly bit of the scene was the South Dakotan wind which was whipping past and chilling my cheeks. It had died down quite a bit since the morning but still I found myself looking down as I made my way towards the mail box. Something struck my mind as I stared down the snow I was about to trod on and it caused me to look up. I realized that I had been looking down, not observing the beauty that I knew was there. My eyes could be taking in so much, and in doing so could fill my brain with thoughts that were currently being drown out by the look of stirred gravel and snow that my boots were coming in contact with. When I looked up my mind opened and my thoughts diversified. I looked up.

That’s my new resolution, to look up more often.

If you read my last post you are well aware that I am currently emmersed in the Northern landscape. The skyline I look up at — for the moment — is the South Dakotan one. I am filling this weird time with farm animals, knitting, and fire wood collecting; the traditional winter experience in the North. It is nice to be here, doing this. I have not had the opportunity to spend so much time with my South Dakotan family before, and I am finding it quite enriching. I get to wake up early and pet the horses and check out the chickens before having a.hot, hearty, farm breakfast. I get to sit around the table with people who share my heritage and plan the day, and then before the sun goes down I get to pet the horses and check the chickens again. The sheep play an important role here too. My grandma and ‘second’ grandfather (my Dad’s step father) have mostly sheep. They keep them for the wool which gets sheared and turned into yarn by my grandmother and also sold at her yarn shop. They also butcher them for the freezer and breed them for more wool production. This time of year is lambing season which means all the females are large and nearing the end of pregnancy. Within the next week or so I will get to see some baby lambs popping out. In preparation for this the shearing of the wool has been scheduled. It is a lot of work so my grandparents called in a professional. We will see when he shows up. Shearing a sheep before the lamb id born is done for the safety of the creatures. A sheep who is fluffy with wool runs the risk of not feeling her baby when she beds down for the night. This can lead to the suffocation of a misplaced lamb. I didn’t know this til my grandma told me, now I do, and now so do you. We all learn something new everday.

I am looking forward to seeing some baby lambs and I am hoping I can make myself useful in the barn when the party starts. Maybe I can learn something new. We shall see.

I said I was knitting and I am. I enjoy a good creative outlet but when I’m stressed the more mindless the better. Painting and drawing takes more thought than I can give right now and as far as writing goes I appear to have a bit of block created by the lack of assurity on what to write about. Knitting requires very little thought compared to my other hobbies and so therefore has taken precedence as of late. My mind is stressed with all the thoughts already filling it and fiber arts have always come simply to me. In the time I have been here I have knit a wool bag which is now felted to sell at grandma’s shop, wrist warmers for the next time I ride Little Wing, and a hat for Dad. Actually I am just starting on the hat for Dad. He didn’t have a wool hat and I didn’t have a project so we both benefit from this latest piece. He chose a silk wool blend that was dyed and carded by my aunt, spun by my cousin, and hanging at my grandma’s shop. The hat will be knit by me and wore by Dad, making for a piece of apparel full of family handiwork. I love the concept. I also love the relaxation.

I went back to Minnesota to take care some of my business. I figured as long as I was in the Northern area I should take advantage of the opportunity to take care of things like taxes. I also wanted to find a pair of boots that fit instead of my grandma’s, which are a few sizes too big. Since I have two pairs of wonderful snow boots that I had already dropped a pretty penny on I didn’t see the point in purchasing another pair. Instead I went home to look for them. Home being Grand Rapids,MN, the home I lived at for the year prior to the adventure. Dad had told me that I hadn’t dropped them at his place in all my moving and shifting so I assumed they must be with my roomate Lea. This meant a roadtrip to Minnesota in a truck on a snowy day, something that is as familiar to me as the knit stitch. It was interesting how short the drive was. The last time I drove the distance it seemed like an eternity. A never-ending drive that tired me out. Three hundred miles used to be a lot. Used to be, before I rode from here to the other side of the country on a motorcycle. The last sixty miles to Grand Rapids, a route that is etched into my brain, seemed to last the span of a wink. I am not complaining. I arrived at my old home, the home of my roommate and her darling boys, to find it empty. I was suprised to find the door unlocked, something that was not a common practice of Lea’s. Once again though, I was not complaining. After all it was cold out and I didn’t really have anywhere else to go in Grand Rapids. I let myself in and was greeted by an enthusiastic dog, one of my living companions that I had shared the home with. His name is Zapper and him and I have always got along well. He and I have had long conversations in which I found myself dominating while he just stared at me adoringly. Zapper has also played an important role in some of my art pieces. Namely a painting which he stepped on while it was drying and many paper pieces which wore spilt coffee marks after he had taken a quick, and excited, look at what I was up to. Anyway, this ferocious gaurd dog didn’t seem to care that a strange woman was entering the home of his absent owners. He remembered me and his long tounge, compliments of his cockerspaniel lineage, found purchase on my cold face. He was just the same as I had left him, but I was to find that the last few months had not left all of my former abode stasis. Things were moved and changed, and though it looked fantastic it felt smaller than when I left. It took me awhile to figure out the change that had led to this perception but after a long contemplation I would conclude that I was the change. The shrinkage was all in my perception of the home, the same way the drive from here to there was shorter than it had ever been. As my world became larger the spaces became smaller. The people hadn’t though.

After a spell of hanging in my old home my former roomates returned. The four and five year old had stretched out. They were taller and more worldly themselves. Their speech was more eloquent and their perceptions were even sharper.

Before they arrived home I had went on a search for the elusive boots. I found one pair in the upstairs closet. When I came back to the main floor Zapper informed me, in his silent manner, that he had to use the bathroom. Instead of slipping my converse back on my feet for the short task I slipped my foot into one of the boots. The simple task was thwarted by my toe brushing an item in the end of my boot. I removed my foot and put my hand inside to retrieve he object. My hand closed around a handful of round objects that were about the size of walnuts, and with similar texture. When I pulled my fist out of the boot I found that it was wrapped around a handful of old stale dog kibbles. A question mark ran through my head. I thought of the different scenarios that might lead to dog kibbles in my boots. A mouse? Had a small rodent taken out individual dog kibbles from Zappers food bowl and transported them from ground floor to my boots that were stored upstairs? No, that made no sense. If it wasn’t a mouse then what could it be?

It must be three year old.

A memory of a three year old filled my mind. Young Frank filling his dog’s food dish in exchange for quarters from his mom. It had become his favorite chore sometime in the summer. He would offer to fill the food dish whenever he saw it was empty and he would even add to an already full dish. He would overflow the dish with the brown kibbles and as time passed he came to realize that he could do it without even asking Lea first. Everytime he walked in the door he would see the dish, which was stationed in the mudroom along with all of the different shoes and boots, and he would remember that Zapper might need food. We noticed that Zapper was gaining weight and some effort was made to tame Frank’s obsession. Even after explanation he only saw the overfeeding as being helpful. Though we noticed the overflow of food, and the new frequency of ‘dog food’ finding it’s way to the grocery list, we apparently didn’t observe his inappropriate repositories for said food. This train of thought ran the track of my mind as I emptied the first boot and stuck my foot in, all the while Zapper was going wild sniffing the stale dog food. He smelled it, but he wasn’t quite brave enough to sample it. I got the first boot laced up and stuck my other foot in the second one. I found that it was also full of kibbles. Three quartes full of the stuff. Zapper was getting gradually more anxious while performing his potty dance. I walked to the door, opened it, and let him out. I shook this second boot out on the snow. The results were a mix of stale kibbles and popcorn kernels, how Frank got his hands on those I have not the foggiest. Now I have one pair of boots that smell a bit like a dog kennel, but fortunately my other pair did not suffer the same fate. It just so happened that I had brought the second pair to Dad’s and he didn’t recall. I was able to retrieve both. The animals in the barnyard seem to be getting friendlier with me when I go out to do chores. First I feel flattered but when I look down at my feet and I see the same blue boots that were receptacles for Zappers lunch just a few days before and I can’t help but wonder if that is the source of this new found sniffs and licks from the creatures.

The three year old, Frank, is now four and boy does he have a lot to say. Difference is he now says it better than he did a few months ago. Both him and his brother, James, are older and wiser. I gave them big hugs and exchange they drew me some lovely pictures while I talked to their mom. She told me that she had made some joke as they were leaving that afternoon about the fact that they hadn’t locked the door. Lea always locks the door but for some reason she didn’t and she remembered laughing about a Sunday afternoon burglar when she was leaving. “And we had one,” she told me, chuckling.

James, the five year old, drew me a flower and a pink bird. Frank drew me volcanic eruptions and a tornado. After further prompting he drew me a house that looked very similar to the scribbles that made up the tornado. He took the same blue marker he used to draw the house and added a snowflake. He told me “there’s a snowflake in the house but it is hard to see because it is blue.” Wise kid. He didn’t feel the need to outline the snowflake in a different color so I just have to remember that it is there. James drew me the prettiest pink bird to go along with his colorful flower. He asked me to hang it on Dad’s fridge so we could all look at it when I got home. I told him I would.cFrank wanted to give my dad something too so he gave me a balloon. He watched me like a hawk as I put it in my bag, there wasn’t a chance he was going to let me forget it.

Dad was pleased by the gifts when I brought them back to him. The balloon was grey with white polka dots and he blew it up and hung it in the house. “Apropos,” he said, “we are unsure. Nothing is black and white, it is all about the grey area.” I would agree.

Like I said, those boys are very perceptive.

My birthday is on Sunday. I am looking up and staring onward towards the horizon. Whatever comes next will come, it is all just life. There will be baby lambs soon, and I will be a different age. Time will pass and as it does so will life. Knowledge and growth will come with life and perspectives will change. I don’t know what all that means, it’s just life I guess.

I heard a song on the radio the other day. It had been awhile since I heard it but it sure seemed to mean something this time around.

I am still looking up, looking ahead. I’m going to chide myself everytime I notice I’m looking down. If I look up I might see the blue snowflakes, pink birds, and baby lambs. Regardless, why waste the view?

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