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Archive for the ‘nature’ Category

It’s a cold, snowy day here in Michigan. Schools are closed because the roads are treacherously icy, so I had the luxury of sleeping in, although I do have fifty author projects from 7th graders on Google Docs to grade. There are fifty more projects waiting for me back at school, but that’s for another day. I’m feeling nostalgic right now.

On days like this, I say a prayer for those who work outside. I didn’t always get “snow days” off, but I’ll take them. I remember what it was like to work outside: in the cold, the snow, ice storms, pouring rain, tornado warnings, scorching hot heat waves. I did that for several years in my twenties and early thirties. I loved working with the farm animals, especially the horses, and people who take care of animals don’t get snow days, or heat days, or any other weather days. Animals need to be fed, watered, their stalls cleaned out every day, no exceptions, and I took pride in being “tough enough” to do it, although there were some pretty miserable days. Those days taught me a lot about work ethic and about myself. I had some pretty awesome mentors who were incredibly patient with me.

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Doing winter chores, whether at the farm or the carriage barn, was always an adventure. I remember my bangs freezing in a solid block from the breath vapor rising out of the woolen scarf wound around my face when the temperature was -5°. I was terrified that they would just break off with a snap. That was also the winter I got a giant lump on my forehead from slipping on the icy platform and hitting my head on the frozen metal water pump we were trying to turn on, fingers and toes uncooperative and numb. Eyes and noses would run in a constant stream from the cold. If any of the cows were being milked at the time, we would fight over who got to do it because that meant putting your hands on something warm for a little while, although it sometimes meant getting hit in the head with a frozen manure tail. On those brutal days, it would take more than an hour for the shivering to stop once we got inside, even with several cups of coffee.

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There were the spring and summer mornings when the tornado sirens would begin to go off, angry black clouds swirling around in the sky, the animals getting panicky. I was still terrified of tornadoes then, and I tried, unsuccessfully, to not let it show. Afternoons when it poured rain, the mud/manure mixture squelched up into our boots, through our stockings, weighing down the hems of the skirts and petticoats or the overalls we wore with sludge. The stains would never quite come out. One spring, the cellar of the farmhouse flooded and I sank almost to my knees in the dirt floor. My work laundry was always done separately from everything else and often had to be rinsed out first.

There were god-awful summer days when the actual temperature would be over 100°, our long sleeves and random pieces of hay glued to us, sweat trickling down every crevice, and people would complain that we weren’t offering carriage rides. My face, forearms, and hands would be a deep tan, but the rest of me was a pasty white.

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Spring lambs

All of these things were great adventures, and I could go on and on for days about all of it. Working in those conditions could be rough, but we bonded with each other over it all and made for some fabulous memories. I wouldn’t trade any of those experiences for the world, and it makes me appreciate days like this much more.

I miss it, working outside, but I’ve developed Renaud’s Syndrome and I can’t work in the cold for long anymore. My heart goes out to those who are working outside on days like this: mail carriers, construction workers, first responders, and the ones who work with outdoor animals to make sure they’re as comfortable as they can be in this weather. They all have their own war stories to tell, I’m sure.

Thanks for reading mine.

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“Well, I know now. I know a little more how much a simple thing like a snowfall can mean to a person”
― Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

Image result for free snow pictures

 

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“It was November, the month of crimson sunsets, parting birds, deep, sad hymns of the sea, passionate wind-songs in the pines.”

~L.M. Montgomery

Anne Of Green Gables

I don’t care what anyone says, I love the spirituality of November.

 

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If you haven’t heard, it’s Shark Week on the Discovery Channel. I am all about sharks; I’ve loved them ever since I was a kid when I read Shark Lady, a book about the life of Dr. Eugenie Clark. (She was amazing, by the way, and wrote two books of her own, Lady With a Spear and The Lady and the Sharks.)

sharklady

After reading Shark Lady, I discovered everything I could about sharks, wanting to become an ichthyologist. I’d come home from the library with piles of books about sharks, an obsession not shared by anyone else in my family, then and now. My favorites are still the great white shark and the mako, both huge and aggressive. I also love the whale shark, the biggest fish in the ocean. It has no teeth, only baleen to filter for tiny prey, and is so docile that it doesn’t seem to mind when divers want to swim along beside it.

Eventually, I gave up on being an ichthyologist but not on my fascination with this top predator. I still want to swim with them someday. Not only are they super-cool, but they’re really important to the ecosystem. Unfortunately, they’re also endangered due to fishing, both of them and their food sources, and global warming. That’s where Shark Week comes in.

Sure, Shark Week is ultra-hyped, but it also educates us about these amazing creatures. Jaws, while a wonderful book and movie, is truly a work of fiction and gave people the wrong impression about sharks, something that the author, Peter Benchley, regrets tremendously. He has since devoted a lot of time, money, and energy to educating people about what sharks are really like. (For example, they don’t form vendettas against small town sheriffs. They don’t have vendettas, at least I don’t think so. You know who I would have a vendetta against if I were a shark? Fishermen. But I digress,) Shark Week does involve a lot of the entertainment aspect, but it highlights an animal that deserves our respect.

See how cute they are?

underwater photography of black fishImage result for great white shark images freeAdmittedly, they’re not terribly snuggly, but there’s something ancient and elegant about them. They deserve our respect, so educate yourself.

Do yourself a favor a watch Shark Week on Discovery through this weekend. Oh, and read Shark Lady. It’s a life-changer.

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