Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Storm

Talk of the storm began early last week. Like in any small town, the weather report seems to leak in from all sides. There are murmurings at the cafe of the gathering grey; then, a day later, the more bold make dire predictions, announce absurdly low altitudinal snow levels (like white in San Franciso); but then, the next day, others—in silent retort—will swear the whole thing off, and insist the weather will veer off north, or peter out on the coast, or only bring rain.

Thursday brought cold; the kind where even the normally indestructible Leo was found sitting by the wood stove at the construction site, explaining that it hurt his hands to work in the un-insulated bathroom next door. I had arranged weeks before—before these murmurings of storm—to drive the winter pigs to Reno that day, to a USDA slaughter and butcher, but had had to cancel early that morning for fear that the snow that was promised on Donner Pass, some seven thousand feet, would be dangerously un-passable in a trailer. Hoping to accomplish some task, I scheduled an oil and lube for the afternoon.

I sat and drank a coffee as I waited for my truck and after half an hour looked up out of my page to see a blanket of white. Suddenly, folks at the restaurant were taking orders to go they’d originally sent in to stay. Others piled up against the windows. Others still, ominously assured us we’d have time before it stuck on the roads. I closed my book and paid my check, anxiously hoping they’d have finished with my truck.

I made it home alright, but that was about all I did for the remainder of the day. By dinner there were six inches. By ten the power was out. By morning there was knee-deep, howling, impenetrable snow. As I spent most of that next day huddled in front of my propane oven—door open, four-hundred degrees—with a head-lamp to read in the dark trailer and dirty dishes piling up (powerlessness on this property means that the electric space heater obviously does not flip on and that the water, whose pressure is generated from a pump, runs dry from the faucets) I got to feeling grateful I hadn’t procured yet any of my spring animals. I feel confident imagining that trying to pasture in twenty inches of snow would be unpleasant both for the farmer and for his sheep.

Tim has asked me a handful of times over the Winter if I’d yet thought of a name for the new farm—the farm we’ve hereto called Rocker, out of uncreative simplicity. I have finally now begun to think of one in earnest: “Locust Springs Farm.” There was Black Locust Farm, Locust Meadow Farm, Locust Meadow Ranch, Honey Locust Farm, Red Rock Farm, etc.; but now, Locust Springs. “Locust,” because that is the tree our farm is built on—a veritable Gibraltar—harvested from the hills of Nevada City and used in our fence and our future pole-barn. “Springs,” to acknowledge the land’s distinctive wetness—the creeks, ponds, and runoffs that have come flowing—seemingly overnight—from the farm’s northern hill after all these rains and snow. Folks have commented that the name sounds rather bleak. I, perhaps stubbornly, with a mind of a tree-harvester, contend the name reminds me less of Moses and his plagues than it does of the gorgeous black-wooded posts that line our wet, Spring fields.

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