Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Third of October

Snow. Closing in like a flour sack being cinched around our valley.Where were the mountains? Where was the neighbor’s house at the far side of the field? I could barely see the barn through the frigid wet clouds that had settled onto us like a hen on top of her nest.

We were building corrals as the snow fell ceaselessly, heaping up on surfaces like some kind of water-saturated frosting. Jarred loose by our hammer blows it splatted in little glops on our hats, shoulders, hands.

As we pounded and sawed and measured, wrapped in our slickers and wearing our winter boots, we kept saying, “Wasn’t it ninety-one degrees a week ago? We were out in the yard in shorts and t-shirts, barbecuing up Bunchgrass Beef burgers!”

I escaped the wet and the hammering and headed to the kitchen to start lunch: a huge pot of minestrone soup, batches of yeasted rolls and apple pies. Zeke and three friends from Portland, a couple more friends from Enterprise, and Bryan and Tanyia were here helping and before long, the wet and hungry hordes would need a warm and tasty refuge.

There is nothing quite like coming into a savory kitchen, dumping your sodden muddy layers in the porch, and being enveloped in the smell of soup simmering, bread baking, and bubbly cinnamon-apple pies resting on the sideboard. A hot beverage is pressed into your hand, and you wedge into the circle at the table, elbow to elbow, stories and laughter swirling around you as your weary muscles relax and good food fills your belly.

Saturday showed me more of the ‘neighborly economy’ that goes into the raising of Bunchgrass Beef. The untimely snow may have dampened our labors, but the spirit of camaraderie kept us going. Night began to fall and with it snow-laden trees that collapsed onto power lines taking out the power at farmsteads all along Prairie Creek. We lit lanterns and candles and pulled out extra blankets, grateful for the warmth of friendship and the old upright piano, as the timeless music of familiar hymns filled the living room.

From Magpie Ranch, home of Bunchgrass Beef