Friday, December 27, 2013

Sorting cows on Christmas

Later, after the sky has changed
from silver 
with a rim of pink
lacing the Ruby Mountains

to a pale airy blue,
we shuffle from pajamas
into jeans and carhartts
and leave the warmth 

of the wood stove for the cold
bluegold of the day.  We sort
the three oldest calves 

into a new pen, leave them
with a bit of grain to ease
the transition.  They watch us

from behind long frosted lashes,
as we leave them 
to their new home.

For me, the day that follows
Christmas morning has never looked
quite like this.  As a child

my family went skiing after presents,
or my sister and i began to pack
for our cross-country flight

the next morning to visit our dad.
I still feel somewhat unaccustomed to
the life of a farmer, the serious

need of the animals waiting for you.
The responsibility of taking 
good care.  I am even less prepared

for my own willingness to trade in
my perceptions of what a perfect holiday
should look like, to walk through cold

sunny fields to do the work of a rancher
on Christmas.  But I am willing, and I 
continue to be surprised by my ability

to stretch 
and become someone
I never knew I could be. 
This  year I was very aware
of the fluidity of tradition.  
Most of our Christmas storage bins

stayed unopened in the basement.
Instead, simplicity.  Fewer decorations,
few gifts, less stuff.  More time

and space for the meaningful
bits of our days, the elemental.
Wood for warmth, candles for light,
meals grown and raised
entirely on our own land.

And I keep waiting for the let down,
the post-holiday low after 
so much anticipation.

But I'm starting to realize
it's not coming this year.
That I am ready to move forward

into the new year, into the heart 
of winter, with a new kind of trust
in the rightness of my days.


sarah said...

you always give me goose bumps Elli.. your words.

Emily Hackethorn said...

Beautiful words and beautiful approach. It's going to be a good year. xo

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