Thankful for creek time
By CHRISTINE TAILER
Our world does not know what it means to change back from daylight savings time.
Creek time simply follows the sun, from sunrise to sunset, and down here in the creek valley, with our limited horizons, it is more like sun rising over, and passing behind, the hill.
The rooster starts his morning call just as daylight breaks. He does not need a clock. He just wakes with the rhythm of the starting day, as the new light slowly breaks over the hill on the far side of the creek.
Our big, bold bird does not need a clock to tell him what time it is. He just knows that with first light it is time to start the day, and he calls to remind us, and his flock, that we had better get moving.
We knew, though, by the end of the day as the sun was slipping out of sight, that it was time to reset the solar-powered timer on the chicken coop door.
The days have grown far shorter, and we could hear the coyotes calling down by the creek. The chicken door was not set to close for another hour. So we reset the timer, and secured the roosting birds in their coop, gentle clucks thanking us for taking care.
The goats also rise and sleep in time with the sun. They join the rooster, begging us for their breakfast at first light, and by starlit evening they have settled down, curled up outside on patches of straw, or if it is raining, snuggled dry in their little goat houses.
And as for Greg and I ... well, we are settling into our shorter daylight routine. After dinner, we sit in our rocking chairs by the wood stove, reading. The cuckoo clock ticks behind me.
The stove radiates a warmth that tries to lull me to sleep. If this were a summer evening, I would still be wide awake, weeding the herb bed, picking vegetables out of the garden, or playing with the goats, as the cuckoo calls the seventh hour, but it is well past sunset now, and I feel my eyes falling slowly with each blink.
The warm glow of the stove surrounds me. One of the dogs lies not at, but on, my feet. I can feel his warmth through the top of my sock. I think of all that we did today. We walked with the animals along the creek.
Greg readied the combine to bring in a neighbor’s corn. I mulched the asparagus bed with leaves and cornstalks, and then covered the deep mulch with hog panels so it would not blow away.
I buried the worms in one of the raised beds, to keep them safe from freezing. Hopefully, they will still be there when I dig them up in the spring. I ran four loads of laundry, thankful for the bright sunshine and hung it all out to dry on the clothesline in the crisp wind.
It dried easily, and as the sun passed over the hill, and the air grew once again chill, I brought it back inside, neatly folded, and put it away. And we reset the timer on the chicken coop door.
As dinner cooked, I sat in my rocker by the fire and sewed a few tears in our comforter. It had occurred to me to buy a new one, but I felt a sense of pride in repairing the old one. As I ran my hand across previous reworked seams, I smiled to think of the passing years.
No doubt about it. The days are shorter, and another year seems to be drawing to a close, but that is all as it should be. The uptown world might set its clocks back to make up time, but down here at the creek, the rooster reminds us that sunrise comes when it comes and night falls when it falls.
We just need to know to get our chores done while there is still daylight, and if not, well there is always another day. I have learned there is no use trying to change the rhythm of our creek valley world, and for that learning, I am ever so thankful.
Christine Tailer is an attorney and former city dweller who moved several years ago, with her husband, Greg, to an off-grid farm in south-central Ohio. Visit them on the web at straightcreekvalleyfarm.com.