Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Mending Fences

"Just then I saw a young hawk flyin' 
And my soul began to rise 
And pretty soon 
My heart was singin'..." 
~Bob Seger

Today is the day for which I wait every year.  The last traces of snow have melted away, the ice on the lake is releasing its iron grip, corrals are drying out... and if I looked hard enough, could probably find thistles poking through the soil somewhere in the pasture.  It is the first day in months I find myself doing chores in a light jacket, and moving about the yard while giving no thought to mud or snow.

While out there today, I began to work on repairing the winter damage to my fences... they usually need quite a bit of attention after months of heavy snow, deer running through them, horses in closer confinement than usual and squabbling with one another as a result.  This was just busywork... when truly serious about the job I'll retrieve my bucket of fencing tools and supplies from the tack room and set aside the time to go over every inch of fence line.  Today it was more about enjoying the day, soaking up the sun and giving thanks for spring's arrival.

As I straightened wires and made adjustments, it made me laugh to look at my handiwork of years past.  In places there are knots and tangles; some lengths of fence have plenty of extra wire with which to make repair, and in other parts its a struggle to make the ends meet.  Different gauges of wire, different brands and ages of posts and insulators.  My fence is a cobbled-together arrangement in places, but serves its purpose in keeping my livestock contained, safe from harm, off the road and where they belong.

The term "mending fences" came to mind, how it it applies to fixing damaged relationships as much as it does to straightening and re-wrapping wire.  I can't remember a time that I've ever just given up on a fence because it was broken and needed repair.... fences are expensive for one. But there also is some pride in making the old one work... in carrying my bucket up and down the hill, mending what was broken, making it whole again.  

Oftentimes I pound my fingers with the hammer, get scratched by the thorns on the plum trees, trip over stumps hiding in the grass, slip in the sticky wet clay.  Sometimes I dread the fixing, the work, and wish for a brand new maintenance-free version (is there really such a thing?).  On a particularly trying day, one might even wonder what on earth compels me to this lifestyle and this work when I could be sitting in a nice suburban home somewhere, maybe blogging from my well-appointed sun room or taking my turn hosting the neighborhood mommy group.  But then, I am reminded of the fact I chose this life, and for good reason.  Its where my heart led me, I pursued it with a passion and did not take no for an answer.  

As for the fences... they can always be repaired. It may take some work, but is worth the effort.  I've built my fence, tended it, cursed at it and apologized and restored it time and again.  Its far from perfect or even picturesque, but it works, and well.  A new one might be prettier, more convenient, and less hassle than the old one comprised of mismatched wires and posts of all sizes... but that old fence? Its unique, I know and appreciate its idiosyncrasies, and its all mine.  

So I pick up my bucket and move on to repair the next broken wire or replace another missing insulator, looking around for evidence that I did, indeed, make the right choice... and God always provides it.  Today, on this first real day of spring, it was the first robin.  Not just one robin... but an entire flock, merrily hopping around beneath my favorite tree, a grand old ash which stands watch over our farm.  Those robins were congregated in the special place where I often retreat to think and just be, when necessary.  

I followed them and sat beneath that big old tree for awhile.  Just then I saw a young hawk flyin'... my soul began to rise... and pretty soon, my heart was singin'.

Spring is here.  It always returns.  No matter how long the winter, no matter how dark the night... the sun always rises, spring always comes again... and with it, the chance to mend fences.

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