The Swiss chard is beginning to leaf out, and I snipped a handful of red-veined leaves, slivered them into a chiffonade, added to a green salad. A little balsamic vinaigrette with crushed garlic, a few chives so newly above the soil line that it almost felt unkind to cut them. Can spring really be not so far away?
Winter beats the spirit out of me, reliably. This year was a little better, thanks to my recent hen acquisition. Here we are on the cusp of March and I'm walking home from work in daylight. I swear I hear angel's harps when the light returns, and I don't even believe in heaven. Harps and a chorus of harmonic voices as godlight spills from the darkness. Hallelujah thank you Jesus and I'm on my knees shouting AMEN AMEN AMEN.
I was out in the alley this afternoon trimming back the dead stalks of the helianthus salicifolius, accompanied by a single chicken (Fallopia) who was visibly disoriented in the absence of her two sister-hens (who refused to go out the back gate with us). They are a tight-knit social group, my girls, and the chicken-duo who remained in the yard were scouting out ways to escape to their dirt-bath wonderland on the other side of the house.
Anyway, a neighbor child who is perhaps six was standing in the back of his dad's red pickup (which was parked in the alley) blowing bubbles. Do you know how much I loved this? The red pickup, the boy-child, the bubbles, the solitary hen? (A loaf of bread approaching crisp-crust bliss in the oven.) The only sound was the muttercluck of Fallopia as she scratched the dirt for bugs.
I filled a giant bin with slender sunflower stalks and errant blackberry vines, upearthed some buttercups and dandelions. And it wasn't raining. IT WASN'T RAINING. (We've had record rainfall this winter.) The mud has even begun to recede — it's been nothing but a slick of mudsoup for months.
If you had told me five years ago that my life would become reduced* to simple and completely delightful pleasures such as this, I wouldn't have believed a word of it.
*Reduced as in the cooking meaning of the word: to boil down in order to intensify the flavor. An approach to life, really. After all the prep-work of one's 20's, 30's etc., after one's vegetables have been chopped, as it were, and simmered in the broth of days, months, years, then one gets to boil it all down to the essential, to the essence of what is best, and absolutely most delicious —
After herding the chickens back to the coop, I went in and cut myself a chunk of bread, butter melting into the warm crumb. Poured a glass of wine. I know for a fact that it doesn't get better than this.