Good Gifts

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The starlings sounded like hard rain coming across the corn. Out here you hear that rain a mile away, sweeping closer, until the drops fall on your head and shoulders. But no, it was birds who’d stepped on our trees, gathering, talking so loud I could hear them in the house. I have seen them do that murmuration thing, where they sweep here, sweep there like a broom clearing dust in the sky, but this day they were landed, chattering.  The cat didn’t know if he wanted to go inside or out. One starling defying him might be all right but not a whole tree full. I didn’t want to walk under those trees either.

IMG_0169This morning I gathered twenty eggs. They clinked together like fine china in the manure bucket. I upended them on the pile, let the heat take them, and felt guilty as hell. I thought of people starving for protein. Thought of that old parental admonition, think about the people starving in India or Africa or South America, if you don’t eat your peas. I thought about Bruce and I, how we might be starving, how we might be sorry for this waste. (There’s a terrifying stretch of verses in Isaiah that pulls me up short, where the prophet talks about people having all the gold they could want, but no food, no none at all. I can feel that prophesy, can feel it coming like so much rain rattling corn I hear a mile away.)

But these eggs are too many for us to eat and we’re not sure how healthy they are to sell or give away because our chickens peck at whitewash that might be lead based. Our neighbor didn’t want them for his pigs. And we’re not sure we want to draw coyotes or racoons by dropping them along the fence line.

We’re saying no to the humility of our chickens, the humility of the gift they are giving, in payment for free range on our yard. (Bruce wants them gone, but I call them–Chickee, Chickaboom, Chickaboom, Boom, Boom. Humble chickens running on two legs, when they want four, from all corners of the yard. The rooster gathers his hens, rapes them, leads them, but for one who stays in the barn that we call Seven. She hides behind plywood when they come in. We empathize with her staying by herself.)

IMG_0171This farm, the horses, are gifts I can’t begin to recieve. Too many days I’ve been stunned into Facebook, scrolling through people’s news, while the sun wheeled overhead and Bruce gives me dirty looks, wondering why I’m wasting the day. But it’s not a waste, it’s marketing my novel. (The more I do this, the more I wonder about how healthy it is to be yanked over to social media, angling up to strangers, commenting, so I can sell the book. It doesn’t feel good. It feels like addiction, like ducking my own thoughts, while others pack theirs in my head. And ducking the brilliance of this beautiful world for the pale screen under my eyes.)

Sunny days are a reproach if I need to stay in and write or edit because they will close down soon, and it cold will bite, darkness is already swarming at the edges of our days. The mares  call from the paddock, wondering where I am. They nicker when I walk into the barn. Tessie’s a mere whisper through her nostrils, Morgen’s a long, rolling call, that reminds me of thunder. Tessie the day after I rode her in the pasture, was all over me like a cat circling my legs, and Morgen lifted off the green grass on the other side of the fence to come when I called her off it.

Even Bruce, for years, it took me years, to accept that he loves me, just plain loves me. Old preacher voices ran through my head: if you don’t make love to him whenever he wants, you’ll lose him. Those voices laced our marriage with fear until women challenged them on the radio and I thought these guys don’t even have an answer. Abandonment terrors that stretch back to the days before I had language rise up, though it took years for them to dull. Thank God his mother’s fear, was worse than mine, thank God she made me seem familiar but not as bad, so he could love me, we could love each other. Any other man would have run.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Just this weekend, I read a tribute to Dallas Willard by John Ortberg. The following grabbed me.”God will certainly let everyone into heaven that can possibly stand it.” Yes, that’s how I feel. Everyone is welcome, but there is mercy because not every one can stand it. (I’m not going to answer for the person who might never have heard, or the atheist who left a fundamentalism that was so sick, they had to reject it to live. I’m not going to answer do you think they’re going to hell?)

So how can I stand heaven, the raw presence of the giver of all good things–my husband, Bruce, Tessie, Morgen, the roll of the land, dappled by clouds and colors brighter than I’ve seen, colors calling me to look, really look and remember, the chicken eggs that click together like porcelain? How can I stand it, if I can’t accept these presents, here, now? I think of T.S. Eliot’s lines, “Ecstasy is too much pain” and Gerard Manley Hopkins who says, “each day dies with sleep.”

IMG_0168And then there’s the stillness of clipping pants and shirts to a line in the bright sunlight, a cricket chirping.

 

 

My social media guy told me to post a link to my novel so if you’d like to read more of my writing you can find The River Caught Sunlight here: http://amzn.to/1r6IpVW

I’ve linked this to Kelli’s Place.

 

 

 

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About Katie Andraski

I come to the ground, the ground comes to me. My novel The River Caught Sunlight was just published. Here's a description: "Sometimes a person has to leave home, even if that home is the most marvelous place she's ever lived, even if her mother will be diagnosed with terminal cancer, and her beloved farmer, a man she's loved for years asks her to marry him." I have taught composition at NIU for twenty years and have been writing ever since I was a little girl. My husband and I live on a farm with horses, dogs, chickens and one not so feral cat.
This entry was posted in Horses, Reflections on the ground, Spirituality, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Good Gifts

  1. What poetry! And the chickens made me giggle. I know that — what’s the line you use, “Sunny days are a reproach…” (lovely) feeling. It’s a lot to juggle but you are and it’s all just lovely.

  2. Marcy says:

    I had to come visit after seeing your comment at Winn’s blog. Love that paragraph beginning “even Bruce…” And the following paragraphs call to mind the line from the Blake poem, about growing to “endure the beams of love.”

    • Thanks for following me over here and for liking my post. You’ve been on my mind since reading your response to Winn’s post. I so hear you on what you said. I hope you stay in touch.

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