Early in the years of which I’ve known this farm I discovered that the fog settles into the North Pasture before it creeps elsewhere onto the farm. The damp air will be so thick that you can’t see into it. The phrase – thick as pea soup comes to mind, although in my mind it’s more of a primordial soup. Martha, who is our fraidy-cat dog, doesn’t like to walk into the thickest part of the fog. I recall walking the North Pasture with Kip and Martha stubbornly refusing to enter the veil of fog with us. Instead she paced and whined until we walked back out. Kip was our beloved black lab who had been Christopher’s grandmother’s companion, and whom he inherited. (We lost Kippy several years ago on this weekend. If you’ve ever seen me sigh when a black lab passes by, you now know why.)
Living on the farm means no YWCA or gym membership, instead I walk the North Pasture in the warm months when the ticks and chiggers keep me from going further afield. Christopher’s father mows a nice trail about three foot wide and it makes good exercise to exit our house and head up the first steep incline on the upper north slope, continue to the far western tree line and down back along the high bluff above the creek. Usually I’ll walk three to four laps of an evening.
Chris has been hell bent on thistle eradication this summer and brush hogged the North Pasture weekly for most of the spring and summer. Earlier in the spring he tried vinegar (which works fine if you only have one or two – not hundreds of thistles) and even a flamer (which again – works fine if you only a few – not an infestation) I think he’s finally having impact on seriously diminishing this noxious weed with the consistent mowing. But as usual, there are both positive and negative results from most any action we take. I have missed the beauty of the tall native grasses, and we had significantly fewer coreopsis this year in that pasture. Right now the Black-eyed Susans are making a valiant effort at blooming since it’s been over week since Chris took the tractor through. Their stems are shorter than usual but their bright yellow petals stand out as they do in so many pastures and roadside ditches declaring that Summer cannot be denied.
For the past few weeks Tess has been joining me on my evening walks. Still young and full of puppy energy she’ll usually stay on the trail with me during the first time around and then begin exploring on subsequent laps. When she catches the scent of an interesting creature I think she completely forgets that I’m in the area. She’ll follow her nose to the middle of the pasture, sniff around and then having lost the scent look up – suddenly spy me and come bounding across the pasture ears flapping and legs moving at a reckless rate that by the time she reaches me she’s unable to stop herself and crashes against my legs. Other evenings she’ll be in a light playful mood following butterflies as they flit from flower to flower. One night she was so absorbed in this adorable game that she completely missed the deer that had been resting in tall grass near the zen path, which my approach startled and sent rushing into the woods.
Timing changes everything in the North Pasture. If I’m fifteen minutes later than usual and walking in the dusk, the bats are out catching the night insects. I enjoy watching their wonky flight against the sky and am thankful of their efforts. One evening last week I was nearly strafed – twice – as I rounded the far end of the pasture near the western tree line.
The sounds of cicadas thick in the trees that surround the North Pasture remind me of rain sticks and it seems the trees are shaking with the dense noise. The lightening bugs are thick in the north pasture too. I know next to nothing – or maybe it’s nothing – about these little bugs other than they begin to light up as the darkness gathers and glow high and low in the trees. If I wake in the night and turn my head on the pillow to the south and look out the glass door, I can see them high in the trees within reach of our balcony. On Saturday mornings as we leave for market at 3:45am they are still active and probably at their most mesmerizing.
Last night at a party I was asked how I liked living in the country. My answer probably sounded lame to the polite woman who asked – but how in just a few words to a perfect stranger can I adequately describe how I feel about living steps away from The Soup Bowl?