At the far end, the lilacs throw a few blooms, malformed but lavender. The yellow iris is meant for June but goes up, full force, right now. It branches into three impressive flowers. As if to say, “Wait!” a pansy gets above the compost. Chamomile presses past the cinder block.On a morning when old men talk about their youth, when they were sledding or skating after the Thanksgiving meal, there are still yellow jackets and fruit flies making their way into kitchens. It’s the same town, 70 years on.
In the fields, aphids fail to die, and their fuzzy offspring colonize the oldest kale first. Amid mud and green, we wait for December, prepare for it. We hope for winter, because a good freeze is beneficial to farmland. Winter is nature’s pesticide: She lays waste to many plant-eating bugs and pathogens. A good winter, one that freezes earth down to her hard pan, is a cleanup tool.
Keeping winter’s geese out of cover crop is an important enough part of farming that a mini manufacturing facility is sometimes set up for the express manufacture of scarecrows. This year, we tested two types, a 3D coyote and a more expensive model, a weather-vane-like German shepherd silhouette. The dog was also spring-loaded and in a gentle breeze seemed to lope upon the wheat grass.
Both types worked well—until the deer rut began. The dog’s pivot-like action made it harder to land an antlered blow, but the coyotes were found trampled and harshly scraped, many feet away from their original posting.
Based on a design of the German shepherd-crows, my brother substituted hardware readily found on our farm, and we ordered five sheets of twin-wall plastic. We could build them in-house for half the price. My mother drew templates—wolves. By Saturday afternoon, she had the menacing profiles of a whole pack.
When the Great Spirit created Meeko, the Great Spirit did not base his creation on Disney but instead on one of his other creations, the bear. Long before Europeans came across the Atlantic, Meeko roamed these woods, the woods of the New World. Meeko was a squirrel the size of a bear but bloodthirsty as a weasel and agile as a cat. He terrorized the woods so thoroughly that the Great Spirit decided to make Meeko small, the size he is now; small enough to run phone wires and squeeze into your attic.
The Great Spirit knew this was the best way to contain and preserve his creation. If Meeko had stayed big, he’d have gone the way of the buffalo.
My template is not of the wolf, whom the geese rightly fear, but of Meeko, before his transformation, a squirrel 3 feet tall, whom I still fear.