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Vo l . 7 N o . 1 than February, and breathing in the crisp air, a little tinged with the smells of spring and hay and horse manure, I remember why I love this place so much. The neighbor dog has started to bark but other than that, all I hear are my boots crunching on the snow and Beau’s hooves as he prances across his paddock. He’s got a route he takes when there’s a moose close by. Right along the fence line he runs, then stops at the gate, waiting I think, to be let out. Get me out of here his face says to me and I wish I could take the anxiety from him. I just use my voice and assure him. Beau doesn’t look convinced. I can see the moose just three feet or so from the fence line on the other side of the pen. “Get on Moose!” I say it loud enough for him to hear me and the moose’s ears go back. I’ve still got the whole corner of the acre between him and me so I don’t worry much about him getting to me unless he decides to go over the fence. We’ve only had that happen once, a yearling trying out his new big muscles. This one looks like he has no interest in anything other than a quiet breakfast. The neighbor boy comes around again and I holler out to him. “Hey, I’m gonna push him over that way.” But he must have his earphones on because he just keeps walking. I stand by the gate of Beau’s pen and he looks like he wants to come on out, straight through the electric wire. “Easy boy. He’ll move along.” I walk a little distance away from our pony, his nostrils flaring and sides quivering, and give my hands a little clap. “Move on Moose!” The ungulate turns his brown head toward me. Chewing on his little branch and staring at me for a minute, he decides I must look Mama enough or crazy enough for him to listen up and move along. He goes slowly, as they usually always do, and Beau dances over to the other side of his pen, as far away from the moose as he can get, never taking his eyes off of it. “He’s moving on boy.” I watch the moose mosey on, keeping one eye on his direction of travel before heading to the shed to grab some hay. I watch him close as I turn the corner away from the horse pen. The last thing I need is to have him decide to come on up the driveway and make me dance in fear like our pony. The minis, knowing now something is definitely up, decide to wake all the way up and prance a bit. Either in support of their big buddy or in excitement at having Ms. Farmer on the barnyard before feed time, they nicker

87 and trot a bit around their pen. This wakes up the goats and they go from being lazy lumps in the pen to frisky little mountain critters, butting each other in the head. I grab a couple flakes of hay out of the shed, and when I come back out, a few hens and our all-bark-no-bite rooster Sir Lolly have strutted themselves out of the coop and are pecking along in search of an early breakfast. Joe the barn cat emerges from his sleeping spot, sliding out of the window of my husband’s old pickup, and stretches his back legs before he starts to clean himself immodestly in the middle of the driveway. His littermate Margaret comes silently to the door of the barn and sits aloofly in the frame of the doorway like nobility, quietly surveying the land and all that waits to be hunted. The barnyard is waking up and the moose is moving along. The neighbor keeps his pace and I can see our moose friend heading away from him, and from our pony. No more drama from me, he says with his lazy moose amble. I watch the sun rise over the tips of the spruce trees and shake out some hay for the minis who bury their sweet noses into the pile of fresh green and halfheartedly try to keep the goats from eating some too. It’s another morning on this crazy little farm and for just a moment, here, alone, quiet with the animals, I can enjoy the stillness that comes after a scare has passed. I can breathe in the day and not yet worry about the list of things that needs to be done. I can enjoy the calm and the organic feel of living among these animals, and today I get to do it before my little band of ranch hands are up and at it, noisy and tumbly in all their work. I walk back toward the house, feeling the cold on my chubby knees and the cozy of my favorite boots on my bare feet. The sun rays hit the ice on the driveway and I smile at this place…this farm…this Alaska...just this moment before the day starts… Thank you God. For this. For one more day. For whatever will come. For whatever You’ll give. Lolly crows loud as I walk by, sticking his pubescent chicken head out in cocky rooster arrogance. Get on, he seems to say. There’s work to be done. I look at him, tending to his hens, keeping his coop in line. I walk toward the house which is now bathed in the orange goldness of an Alaskan winter morning. Soon the kids will be waking and the dogs will be barking and the day will be moving along like the moose. I hear that rooster crow again, louder this time, and before I open the door and enter back into my warm and my tea and my bare feet, I call back to him and smile… “I know, Lolly. I know.”

Cirque, Vol. 7 No. 1  

A Literary Journal for the North Pacific Rim

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