CELEBRATE THE SEASON:
The Lone Winter
by Anne Bosworth Greene
by Wayne Kelley
Let Them Eat Fruitcake
by Mary Lou Healy
IN THE FARMHOUSE KITCHEN:
EVERYTHING WOOD HEAT:
Oh No! My Woodstove Has a Catalyst in It!!
by Daryle Thomas
by Wendy Warfield
INTO THE OUTDOORS:
The Perils of a Long Winter's Sleeep
by Madeline Bodin
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The Lone Winter
by Anne Bosworth Green
Editor's Note: The following excerpts are from the c. 1923 diary of Anne Bosworth Greene, a writer, who spent the winter alone on her farm in the Vermont mountains.
The farm seems so still. Not a voice-nor a laugh-anywhere...For I am alone. Dolly [horse] and the yellow cart have just brought me home from the station. My child has gone to her school in town, and I am to stay and take care of things here...Not a nice plan at all! But there seems no way, this winter, for us both to leave the farm and its precious creatures; and education must go on...
A queer autumn, this. One of the most exquisite-with rarest coloring, blue haze and atmosphere, days fresh and yet warm. And it leaves me cold. I look at beautiful woods and hillsides, my mind approves of them, I murmur with the greatest sincerity, "How lovely that is"; and yet it doesn't matter a rap.
Solitude, I suppose. For whenever my child is here, things bloom again. Feeling comes alive. That is my trouble! A sort of deadness to what I so much love.
A most external time, too, one seems to be having. I race and chase so much-things so drag me physically hither and thither, I don't have a real thought a week.
"...To sit down and be happy thinking," R.L.S. says; yes, indeed! But if you have to jump on a horse and think about stones in the road?...For years I have been used to being sedentary in the morning, and can stand as many hours on a camp-stool as the next person; but this scatteration-this scrabbling; this activity that has but infinitesimal relation to the brain-dear me, it's tiring! A farm is like a very large and extended baby. It takes a great deal of time and very little mentality. Or rather the mentality is so terrifically spread out that one is unconscious of using any!...
And then being all alone comes in, too. Any time anyone goes to the barn it's yourself. Every time there's something the matter in a far pasture it's you that inspects it. You saddle your own horse and fetch your own milk and lay your own table and cook your own meals; worst of all, you decide everything-you yourself!
That, on a farm, is a career in itself. It's up to you! And so awfully, actually up. Decisions are real; not concerned with hypothetic art...If you are going to add ten ponies to the herd another year, will there be enough hay in your present arrangement of fields?...Will your apple trees die faster, or more slowly, if mercilessly pruned? Can you possibly scare up enough organic fertilizer for the land you want to plow?...Shall the baby who's a bit less strong than the others be weaned-or shall he stay with his mother and imperil next summer's colt?...Real, real, real! Stone and rocks and soil-blood and bone and growing things...
They weigh on you.
Today we are smothered in snow. I have put up bars across the pasture lane and the herd of ponies, much discomforted, is at last in winter quarters. Unless Indian summer melts us later on. And there doesn't seem to be room to put anyone anywhere...
In the lower stable every stall is full, and Dolly [horse] is tied in the "ditch," a narrow pony stall...Cressy [dairy cow] is in my Polly's [horse] stall. So an unexpected head sticks up from everywhere-horns, too! It makes one quite dizzy. And the amount of hay they seem to eat! I pile the hay alley full, and in a wink it is empty again.
The pasture lane is now deep in drifts.
Hay! One sometimes feel as though life were composed of it. Our barns are old barns that have been added to now and again so they are fearfully and wonderfully arranged; you climb up ladders into one mow, and pull and labor; then you go done those ladders and up others into more lofts, and labor again. Animals are dotted everywhere-the horse stable, the hen-house, the sheds; and that makes for prolonged travel at feeding time-long portages of forkfuls of hay, winding through various sections of stable, and out across the snowy yard. Great mountains have to be taken, night and morning...
I string out the fragrant hay-it is delightful stuff to carry!-in long rows upon the snow; the ponies love to be out and there is more room in the open.
Brought my dear child home from the station-in a sleigh. On the way down, the road through the woods was lovely-untrodden snow, and hemlocks laden deep with it. The branches simply hung-so far that one had lapfuls of snow!...Three times I stopped and emptied a sleighful of wet snow!
The next day-Thanksgiving-was a glittering one of purest white snow and blue skies-and everybody's telephone out of order. The Chickadee, a little lady some miles away across the valley, was coming to dinner with us. When everything was on the table, gay with festal adornment, we threw open the door to look down the snowy valley for our guest. There was no sound; no speck crawling on the valley road. We closed the door reluctantly...
"Oh, she'll be along. Hard pulling in this snow, you know!" I said; and once more we occupied the doorsill...
At three o'clock we sat down to an overdone dinner, having gone through all the stages of lingering hope. But we were frantically worried. The little lady must be very ill-or she would at least have sent us word...We raced through our dinner, chucked the bird in the pantry, saddled up, and flew. So did the snow. A ball from Pud's galloping forefoot took me neatly in the eye. At last, as the winter dusk was settling down, the Chickadee's lone light shone out across a bare stretch of snow. "She's there, anyway!" we gasped, and urged our horses on.
Chickadee's little figure, still in its festal gray crepe gown, stood in the door.
"I'd been hoping for this!" and before her crackling fire we had the awful tale-how the old man who is our livery driver had not come for her, how she had hoped and hoped till the last minute, when there was no way to let us know...
We had nuts and cake before the fire, our plowed-up feelings gradually calmed, and we rode off quite complacently under the stars.
Starlight, afterglow, and mountains!...A joyful ride.