This morning at the farms along the road

Twelve wild turkeys on their barnyard tour lumber from the woods
a haphazard file of sumptuous brown bodies pulled by naked heads and red chins
across the farmhouse lawn to the spot where chicken feed lies scattered every morning
they begin determined digging

Five black-and-white spotted cows and a brown sprawl on the thick hay pile that rises
from the snow and two more sleep standing with early spring sun heating their backs
one lying at the edge wakes and chews turning her large white-patched eye
to watch the foot traffic

Four horses stand under thick red blankets munching hay
heads bent to the ground and tails rarely twitching as it is still too cool
for bugs but even in the safety of the yard their lead mare lifts her brown head
and flares her nose watching long minutes for threats from across the field

Two black furry puppies with floppy ears and strong short legs
bark and run fast and free of any fear almost tripping
down the hill to waggle their muscular bodies in a yipping welcome
of a friend climbing the path

One cinnamon Labrador falls to the battered wooden floor of the old milk house
rhythmically thumping her tail on the boards and baring her belly for a long rub
she lifts her head for a close and steady gaze
licking the wrist of the hand that pats her

Two young huskies lie behind their fence breathing the cold air after their second
morning walk and five horses in the next field look up at the sound of footsteps on the road
at a passing shadow a chipmunk darts into the stone fence while the red squirrel
chats a warning from high in the bare maple

In the house a ladybug clinging at the water line sips from the cats’ bowl
bread cooling on the counter fills the air with its light baked yeasty smell
the eggs are washed and gleaming in their soft shades of brown and green
the world proceeds with its small rituals

~~~

Me and Mrs. Jones

My vehicles have names.

What’s a vehicle? Anything with wheels, that I take to go on adventures. Car (Vivi, Mattie), bicycle (Genny, Francie, Gary)…

Lawnmower?

It’s only since moving to my little two acres, with a big patch of cleared greenery to mow, and a Greenworks battery-powered mower to do it with, that I’ve started thinking of my lawnmower as a vehicle with whom I have adventures.

But I haven’t known what to call this companion. Until the other day, heading out to mow for the fourth or fifth time in a week, and realizing that I was looking forward to it, I thought, “the lawnmower and I have a bit of a thing going on”.

Almonte lawnmower Me and Mrs. Jones

Mrs. Jones, waiting for a battery change

So let me tell you  about today’s adventures, mine and Mrs, Jones’.

We avoided the usual batch of smartly hopping frogs, crickets, cicadas, spiders, and moths. We did not avoid the desiccated wild cat poop but as it was dried, no matter. (No photo, you can picture it yourself.) We cut down a goodly number of nascent wild parsnips but they were not in flower so we’re simply keeping them at bay, not spreading them around, according to what the provincial ministry of the environment’s website tells me.

Almonte Greenworks Me and Mrs. Jones

Mrs. Jones with her bustle

 

We collected grass clippings for the compost – this is heavy work, and pushing Mrs. Jones and her bustle full of long grass along the sloped lawn makes me think I can cancel my gym membership.

 

 

IMG_20150919_172846We found an egg, broken open, with remains inside.

IMG_20150919_173018

We found wild catnip, which I harvested for Hazel and Mabel.

For the goIMG_20150919_173333od of us both, I wrestled and snipped out several stands of wild raspberries, which Mrs. Jones finds impassable. Wild raspberries have whip-like, pliable stems, up to ten feet long, that start new roots when their tips reach the ground. They may not look like much in the photo, but they also have wickedly clever thorns that hook and slice human skin and foam rubber handles with equal ease.IMG_20150921_165042

We picked six domesticated raspberries, the whole harvest from the plants sweetie transferred this Spring from the city house. I fed these to sweetie.

We left a few wildflowers here and there to brighten the lawn.

And just before the rain, we found a patch of lemon-scented moss with a teeming colony of winged ants, that reminded me of Coalescent, by Stephen Baxter.

So what does it matter, these adventures Mrs. Jones and I have together?

I’m surprised at how much I like mowing the lawn. I tend toward non-intervention, wanting to leave things to themselves. My brother says I used to protest shovelling because it ruined theIMG_20150921_153304 smooth look of the snow. But to some extent, mowing must be done, and it’s a physically exerting but intellectually easy job, one I understand. I know when I’ve done it well, and I know when it’s finished. Mrs. Jones is like a horse who knows the path, and I can almost just follow along. I’m outside, I’m moving, I’m getting to know the world around me, and I can hear myself think. I can hear the birds, I can hear the sheep, and the mower doesn’t scare them off. I can take a break over the rail fence to nuzzle Alpha, the elderly horse who boards with the sheep.

Alone with my thoughts, yet interacting with my environment, mowing is not quite a meditation, but a way of coming alive. My friends say, get a ride-on mower. But I’ve got my thing with Mrs. Jones.