Corny Mittens

Winter always makes me think of growing up on our farm, and doing barn chores.  I was in charge, because Dad worked a lot of overtime.  That’s how he kept bread on the table and shoes on our feet.

Dad was an expert at thinking up work for kids.  It kept us so busy, we had little time to think of mischief.  One winter, a field of corn went unharvested.  Instead, we did it by hand, picking ears of corn like we lived in a third world country.

I liked the barn, because the animals kept things toasty warm.  Plus I throwing bales of hay and straw around keeps a body revved up; all except my fingers and toes.  I sure knew what “stings the toes, and bites the nose” was all about.  Or was that “Stings the nose, and bites the toes”?  Either way, my toes and fingers hurt from the cold.  Especially the year we got the corn in by hand.

Dad didn’t tell me why no combine came that year to get the corn in.  Maybe he was working Continue reading

Manger Stories

 Lucky for Mom, she has so many kids to get all the work done.  We had a regular chore rotation: Wash dishes, dry dishes, set and clear the table and sweep the floor, and do barn chores.  We could trade with each other; Deanna always traded out of doing barn chores.  She hated the barn.  Bonita and I would rather be outside anyways.

istockbarnEven in the freezing cold of winter.

Still and all, I felt sorry for Baby Jesus in the manger.  A mangers no place for a baby, that’s for darned sure.

For a long time, part of winter barn chores was cracking the iceon the water trough and filling the trough, so the cows got enough to drink.  When it got super-cold, we watered them with a pail.  I hated that job.

Dad got five gallon pails as full as we could carry and Bonita and I carried them over to the manger for the Belle and Lightfoot, and Ladybird, and Black Eyes, and Blackie, and Mavis, and all the other cows whose names I forgot ’cause I never got that attached to every single cow and calf.

Our barn had tinsy water bowls right beside each stanchion, so a cow could get a drink of water anytime she wanted.  She just had to press down on the lever with her nose and voilà, just like the drinking fountains at school.

As long as I lived, I never once saw those things working.  Dad said those contraptions were like asking a cow to drink from a straw.

English: A drinking cow

English: A drinking cow (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


“A cow’s gotta put her noses right down in the water and gulp the water down, not sip, sip, sip like this.”

Dad scrunched up his eyes and made a sucking sound through kissy lips.  I knew just what he meant, ’cause I never could get a good drink of water from a drinking fountain.

Anyways, I hated dragging those pails to the cows.  For one thing, they could Continue reading

Christmas Lights

People decorated with outdoor lights, even way back when I was a little girl.  Big bulbs with green and red and orange and white and yellow.  Nothing blinked or looked like snowflakes or icicles or sang Christmas songs, or floated like giant snow globes.  Still, I loved it.

Christmas lights4Sometimes the colors lit up the snow and made my eyes hurt the way sucking a lemon made my jaws ache, but at the same time I loved the taste and the way my mouth felt after sucking on a lemon.  I had to close my eyes and open them slowly for another peek at the lights before the pain hit me again, back there behind my eyes.  That’s the same way stained glass windows hurt my eyes.  All that bright color against a black night burned my brain.  As much as I loved the bright lights, my favorite was candle light the farmhouse had one single candle in each window of the house was my very favorite.  I wanted to live in a house like that.  For sure, that house was warm and cozy and full of happiness.Christmas lights2

We never had Christmas lights outside, just inside on the tree.  Our house was drafty and often cold.  Still, we had lots of happiness and plenty of chaos.  Sometimes it’s hard to remember the chaos because the blessings block out everything else.

I went for a Christmas light hunt with my daughter and her five children.  Singing and chatter, wrestling and arguing, pointing and shouting.  A flood of nostalgia washed over me.  That’s when I remember that love is patient and love is kind.  Plus, love has a special kind of memory.  Mostly, I’m reminded that loves lights me up in a way that sometimes hurts so much I have to shut my eyes before I open them for another peek at all the brilliance.

Christmas lights3

I am clean and fresh again and ready for more.

Buscia:  Body language of Love

Buscia: Body language of Love

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