Sunday, November 29, 2015

Harlan Bramble and the Full Moon of Advent

A big storm just came through and lucky for me, Prairie went into labor ahead of the rough weather. I drove to Portland on good roads and arrived in time to share in the birth of Harlan Bramble Wagner, Jon and Prairie's first child and our newest grandson.
Harlan and Sara

Harlan was born at home and that first night while he slumbered snug in his woolen sleep sack, a wild wind blew in, with heavy clouds from the coast dumping rain that sluiced through the streets. The rain kept up all night and most of the next day, gradually calming as the front traveled east. When the sky cleared, temperatures dropped below freezing and a full moon floated over the tall firs behind the house. We could feel the cold working its way in and we turned up the heat to help baby Harlan get used to the world outside his mom.
Prairie resting while Harlan gets his sun bath

Back in Wallowa County, the storm arrived bringing snow and leaving behind single digit temperatures and icy roads. Mike chained up when he went to get a cow outside Joseph so he wouldn't slide the trailer off into a little creek that crossed the driveway. We had to start feeding some hay to the cows, as our last standing feed in the valley was snow covered. After Mike caught a ride to Portland to meet Harlan, Zeke and Gabe pitched in on chores, including chopping ice in the ditch so the horses would have water.

They like each other

I'm glad to be back home after two weeks, just as I'm glad I could spend time with Jon and Prairie and Harlan. We diapered, swaddled, and rocked, sharing middle-of-the-night story telling, reading poetry and essays aloud and admiring Harlan as he mastered the jobs of a newborn.

Today I helped Mike take hay to the cows in an ice fog that never lifted all day. This next week he will try and get the new fence up behind our house and we'll trail the cows home and wean the calves. I hope it warms up above freezing for fence building, and while the cows are here, so we can keep ice chopping to a minimum. It's one of my least favorite chores.

Ice fog at the Eggleson Place

After we fed, I gathered evergreens from the yard and the wind break. I wanted to make an advent wreath for the table, and a bigger wreath for the porch door. The branches were clumped under icy snow and my knit gloves and sweater quickly grew hairy with frostsicles.

By the time I had clipped boughs from all eight types of greens my fingers were aching from the cold.  I brought the boughs into the kitchen and left them in front of the wood stove, where they warmed up, leaving little puddles of water on the hearth. 

The Oval warms up the greens

Now the spicy scent of spruce and fir and pine and juniper fills the kitchen and the first candle of advent glows brightly beside its quiet neighbors. I cherish this ritual of winter, bringing light into the darkness, honoring the evergreens of life in the midst of a snow-covered world, celebrating love and hope in spite of our fears and misunderstandings.

First Sunday of Advent

From Sara at Magpie Ranch, Home of Bunchgrass Beef