In which winter drags on, but at least we still have Sundays at Fish Creek

 Riding on Sundays at Fish Creek Farm is not a formally organized thing.   Fiddle loves Ariana--and really, who can blame her? Most of my friends board and/or train there in the winter, and it's a natural gathering spot in normal times--and even more during the days of the pandemic.   Yes, we wear our masks in the arena if there are other people around. Nope, it's not a big deal. Nobody argues about masks:  they are required.  You don't have to believe in them (and some boarders do not) but you do have to wear them.   This sign is posted on the driveway:  MASKS REQUIRED IN THE BARN.  PANTS OPTIONAL. It's nice to have a few places in my life where I know people won't be unmasked.  Work is the other place:  my library staff absolutely  adheres to distance/masking rules.  It's very comforting. Here's 60 seconds of video that I shot today.  Nothing earthshaking, just friendly people riding.  The Dragon stands peaceably in the middle of the arena so I can run the

In which we have a celebration of holidays' end and MORE LIGHT

I'm not a complete Grinch...but celebrations at the darkest time of year seem ironic to me. This is our "Christmas Tree."  We put lights on it, and sometimes a few ornaments.  This year it was decorated with lights and a few ferns, because Rumplecatskin would absolutely have killed anything else. We had a "remote gathering" on New Year's Day.  It poured rain part of the day, but we built a bonfire in the back yard and roasted hot dogs. Someday we will build a big "party annex" on the house.  Until then, we have the barn aisle. I mostly look forward to the end  of the holidays, because that's when the light starts coming back. We have a new "tree" on the wall now--Monica painted an artistic version of the sequoia tree in the backyard. More light means more riding! The pandemic is still on, of course, which means road trips are still OFF...mostly.  I figure, if we can get out-and-back on a single tank of gas, and we can support a couple

In which this poem wrote itself and insisted that I write it down

In the darkest part Of the longest night A storm wakes me.   The bedroom window, Open a crack to let in fresh air Allows in the sound of weather against the house.   The sky sings out “I am the whole ocean, And you are a boat in a mighty hurricane!”   My little house, hunkered inland, tucked up to the foothills, Calls back, “I am a pirate ship filled with treasure, And your sea cannot drown me, scurvy dog!”   The sky throws splashing buckets of cold rain Over the bow of the house. The house whoops and squeals, And plunges face-first into the next playful wave In the sky-made winter waterpark.   In the warmest bed Under the snuggest covers, I ease a bare foot out of the blankets, Reach it into the long dark night, And push the window open just a little more. --Aarene Storms     

In which the Gift of Stories concludes with a small original tale

I've always wanted a Nisse to come live on Haiku Farm.  Maybe one will read my story and consider joining us here. image by Harold Wiberg The Woman Who Needed a Nisse (original) There once was a little old woman who lived all alone.  She had no family and no children of her own, only the animals on a little farm given to her by a long-ago uncle. She had no friends in the village, because she feared that friends would come to visit and she had nothing to share with them—no food to spare, and no good company either. The little farm had been productive in her uncle’s time, with many cattle, and a flock of hens and a hive of busily-humming bees. But now she had only one cow, and one hen, and a few bees. Worse than that, the cow would kick over the milk bucket every day, the hen threw feathers all around and did not lay eggs, and the bees buzzed angrily at her and stung her if she tried to take some honey. The old woman was very unhappy, and very lonely too. She didn’t know what t

In which sometimes you get treasure, but usually you just learn stuff

There's a little story I usually tell on birthdays, about the very old wise women setting around the table talking to a younger woman on her birthday. The younger one asks, "What do I need to get to become wise like you?" And one of the old wise women tells her "Good judgment." The younger one thinks about that for a moment, and then asks, "So, how do I get good judgment?" The older ones tell her, "Experience." The younger one gives that one a thought, and then asks, "So, how do I get experience?" And the older ones grin and tell her, "Bad judgment." This story is kind of like that. The Field of Buttercups (Ireland) A long time ago in the darkest part of winter, a young woman was walking home just at the end of day.  She heard a tapping sound coming from beyond a wall, and followed her ears to the sound.  And when she had climbed over the wall and peered down and beyond, what should she see but a leprechaun, a little man

In which I provide a few poems to take with you into the world

  Some one came knocking At my wee, small door; Some one came knocking, I’m sure—sure—sure; I listened, I opened, I looked to left and right, But naught there was a-stirring In the still dark night; Only the busy beetle Tap-tapping in the wall, Only from the forest The screech-owl’s call, Only the cricket whistling While the dewdrops fall, So I know not who came knocking, At all, at all, at all. --Walter de la Mare Up the airy mountain, Down the rushy glen, We daren’t go a-hunting For fear of little men; Wee folk, good folk, Trooping all together; Green jacket, red cap, And white owl’s feather! --William Allingham What ran under the rosebush? What ran under the stone Could it have been a shadow, Running away alone? Maybe a fairy’s shadow, Slipping away at dawn To guard a gleaming pot of gold For a busy leprechaun. --Monica Shannon   image by Lennert Helje

In which a house spirit is not always something you want in the house

  Moving Day (Holland) There was once a family who were tormented by a terrible kobold, who soured the butter, burnt the bread, and tied the tails of the cows into knots.  Nothing they would do or say would appease this little troublemaker, no sweet porridge or honeyed bread would calm it, and so at last they determined to move away from their home and leave the kobold to the next inhabitant. They quietly packed up all their possessions, from their boots to their pots, from their hats to their pans, and when all was loaded onto a cart, took up the reins and made to leave.  But before they could go, they heard the sound of a tiny voice, high up on the cart, and when they looked they saw the kobold there, laughing and jumping up-and-down with delight. “Look at us!” said the little fellow, “we are moving today!” And so they unpacked everything again, and stayed.  Domovoi, A Spirit Of The House  by Ivan Jakovlevich Bilibin