November 24, 2010
First snow is on the ground here in the Yakama’s valley. Based on the reports we’re getting, snow is throughout most of the state of Washington this morning. First snow makes one wonder. I imagine because there is a certain amount of wonder in the snow. It is magical and mysterious all at the same time. When writing to her congregation, Laurie Rudel, a friend of ours, recognized that we all begin as children and the first snowfall brings something of that child out in all of us. This child doesn’t mean we necessarily like living in the snow, but rather, if we take a moment we all can experience our first wonderment of our first snow.
Wonderment of first snow doesn’t look the same for all of creation. Two spring kittens jump out the back door like they have done every morning since birth. Being teenage kittens, they didn’t look before they bolted out the door. After the first few bounds, they stopped and found their eye level below snow level. Not only did they not know what to do with snow—is it wet or is it dry?, for a moment they were lost.
When it came to roosting in the evening, the spring chickens who had come to the chicken coop every evening since birth, couldn’t quite find their way to the coop last evening. Now, they have to journey twenty feet from the northwest corner of the barn to the coop door on a windy-snowy evening, so their not making it to the coop might have as much to do with the wind as it does with the snow. In any case, there are fewer eggs in the laying boxes this morning.
There are not any spring goats this year. Everyone has a winter or two or three behind them, so snow and cold isn’t something new. However, if there is an animal that does not like the snow, it is the goat. Sure, mountain goats may like snow good enough, but it is a stretch to think of these we raise have much lineage with those longhaired animals. Instead, these shorthaired goats have almost no fat, which makes for great meat, but doesn’t do a thing for warmth. No snow and no rain suit them just fine.
Wonderment might come a little differently for the two-legged rational folk. This morning’s visit to the chicken coop garnered a few eggs. After gathering them from the laying box, I placed them off to the side while I checked water and feed. Three or four minutes later I came back to them and they had all frozen and broke their shells—that’s what a negative eight degrees will get you. Now, I imagine one could say that a rational person would have had the good sense to know you can’t leave eggs out in negative eight-degree weather and not expect them to freeze solid…or…it might be said…snow brings about an amazing transformation of rationalization to childlike wonderment that enjoys the acquirement of wisdom through hands-on learning. Yeah, let’s go with that, childlike wonderment, sounds like a good argument as I serve cereal rather than the promised eggs for Thanksgiving breakfast.
© David B. Bell 2010