Tuesday, December 6, 2011

first snow of winter

first snow of winter --
Black Angus with white blankets
on their backs munching stalks

The first snow of the season started falling last night and by morning the ground is white. When I pass the small herd of Black Angus at the corner of Osage, it looks like someone put a white blanket on each of their backs. They cluster with their heads together around the round cornstalk bales, trying to consume enough calories from the nutrient-poor stalks to stay warm, taking one day at a time, not knowing what their future holds in store.
          At the Bargain Box on the south side of the square, I spot a Character trying boots on his sockless feet. He looks like a clown, with a black bowler hat and jacket, rolled up jeans and layers of accessories -- red and blue fringed scarves, a striped tie and a striped legwarmer worn on one arm. Or maybe he's an Irish Leprechaun, with curly red hair and beard and that twinkle in his eyes.
          I look like a Character myself, with a fuzzy alpaca hat, knit snood, white scarf, bulky hand knit striped cardigan, purple tights and white boots. Two Characters with something in common.
          "Nice hat," I say.
          He introduces himself as Ian Montgomery. "We've met before," he says. "I have a tree farm south of town."
          "We live out that way too," I reply, "in the LaPorte house."
          "I know that place, I'm friends with your next-door neighbor."
          "What kind of trees do you have?"
          "Oaks, pines, walnuts."
          "Did you lose any in the drought?"
          "No, did you?"
          "Yes, a few."
          "How old were they?"
          "About 5 years old."
          "Mine are 20 years old. They have really deep roots."
          I'm wondering whether he's old enough to have planted those trees himself, but I don't ask. Just to own a tree farm means he's put down deep roots. Outside the store, I wave as he walks by in the still-falling snow, his arm around a girl wearing a red knit stocking cap, an elfin smile on her face.

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