I'm forever grateful my kids love each other like they do. Samuel and Eliza have each other's back-- no squabbling or sibling rivalry between those two. I'm proud of that bond. They've gone through a lot together, and I think the difficult moments they endured over the years as a result of their parents' divorce have ultimately cemented their love and admiration for each other in indestructible ways. Now, as adults and professionals in their respective fields, they grow deeper in respect and pride of each other's achievements, relationships, and paths. What more could a mom ask for?!
Aunt Lera remarked after dinner that she really enjoyed the fact that three generations of people, ranging from 25 - 98 years old, shared interesting and engaging conversation around the table until shortly after 10:00 PM. Aunt Lera has been Mom's best friend and sister spirit for decades, each serving as a second mother for Richard and me (and Betsy, too). Samuel and Eliza have never known life without the Randall connection; I'll never forget how Eliza immediately rejected the idea that we really weren't related to the Randalls by blood. Didn't matter to her. Aunt Lera and Uncle Frank were indisputably her aunt and uncle, just like Richard was my brother by another mother, which still made him her Uncle Richard. (Apologies to Richard for his absence in the photo. He was the photographer.)
There were other connections in Boone with family members and friends. Zeb's family is still represented strongly in the mountains. My uncles, aunts, and cousins fill the void of missing my dad and grandparents. A ride over to Pigeon Roost and back through the mountains soothed my longing to be a child again at Grandma's table on Christmas Day, and a wonderful afternoon with my cousin Bill and friends Terri and Debbie, as well as a visit in Boone by my friend Pam, put the icing of wonderful memories with special friends and family on the holiday cake.
Return to the farm has provided the pups and me a chance to get outside (despite very cold temps) and move our bodies. I'm in search of a leak in my water line, so I've walked the distance from the house to the end of the driveway several times in unsuccessful attempts to find a "wet spot." It looks like there'll be a new water line coming down the lane before long, damn it. The high thought, however, is the knowledge that I won't be dealing with water leaks again. I've had three leaks since I took over the farm 16 years ago. The upcoming damage to the bank account, however, makes me think that part-time work is in my not-too-distant future.
Some may recall the unfortunate ending two Novembers ago to a huge stag who had protected my land for many years. I had watched this majestic animal grow from a young buck into the alpha male on my land over the course of time since the kids and I redefined our lives here. I had met him and locked eyes with him on more than just a few occasions back in the woods. We knew each other well, and we understood the magic of the land upon which we dwelled harmoniously together.
A neighbor, upon whom I would not piss on if he were on fire, allowed one of his hunting-buddy houseguests to take the buck out, and I found the neighbor and his friend crossing my field to carry the animal away. The buck jumped the fence in his last moments to come to the farm to take flight (We won't dwell here on that; however, it was more than just "luck" that I came across him and held him as he died.)
Shortly thereafter, I met another young buck back in the woods and have watched him now for two years as he has taken heir to the farm as "chief stag." This is the first time I have mentioned him or written about him, except to communicate about him to a friend who would understand my connection to this animal.
I arrived home Friday afternoon, and yesterday morning, when I opened the blinds to check out the snow, there he stood across the driveway as if to welcome me home and let me know he had kept close watch on our land in my absence. Interestingly enough, the dogs didn't pick up his presence, so in the silence we exchanged our unspoken understanding that all was well, a new year was upon us, and we would each remain in touch to ensure the farm's protection and care.
With all that's happened / happening on the political scene in our country and across the world, I've found myself either enraged, stunned, grief-stricken, ill, or depressed since early November. However, the encounter with his buck has stilled my heart of worry and concern, comforted me, and left me invigorated and energized as I begin my 37th year here as Farm Mom. And with that ease of heart, I begin 2017 with great gratitude and humility for the many blessings that flow my way.
Love, love to all......infinitely!