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Gray days

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Christine Tailer

By Christine Tailer
HCP columnist

From the moment I first opened my eyes this morning, until the evening darkness crept in from the east, the sky was a cloud washed gray. I knew that I would have to wear my farm cap whenever I ventured outside. The bill would keep the lightly spitting rain from blurring my glasses. I pulled my gray ponytail through the back of my gray cap and headed out to do the animal chores.
An early morning fog had crept up the valley from the river to the south. It filled the lower valley, hovering over the creek. As I watched, its gray wisps began to spill across the bottom fields and then began to climb the hillside, reaching between the trees, and climbing up the gravel driveway toward the cabin. Across the creek, I saw a faint glow just rising over the far hill. It was the sun. Its barely shimmering light reflected all through the fog. 
I walked over to the chicken coop. As the chickens flowed down the ramp from their coop, it occurred to me how the gray Plymouth Rock hens were particularly suited to the silvery gray of the day. They led the flock, dashing over for their morning treat of the previous day’s leftovers. This certainly seemed to be a gray cap, gray fog, gray hen kind of day.
I made my way over to the rabbit hutch and gathered up their bottles to fill with clean water. The black buck and brown doe both came to the front of their cages. Their noses twitched as I pulled the bottles from the wire hangers and bent down to fill them with water from my bucket. The doe is rather skittish and bounced away when I tried to pet her. Not so the buck. He leaned into my hand and stretched out his black toes. I am certain that he would let me stroke his back forever. I paused my chore rounds and stood by his door letting my fingers slide through his soft black fur. I smiled to myself when I noticed the tufts of gray fur between his toes and on the underside of his feet. I added gray tufted rabbit feet to my list of grays.
Chores done, Greg and I headed back across the yard to the cabin. It had been rather chilly the night before and Greg had lit a fire in the wood stove. Gray smoke wafted up from the cabin's chimney and headed north up the creek. Its clear wisps were in stark contrast to the budding green of the valley hillside, but as the smoke rose, it quickly dissipated into grey of the day. Gray smoke duly added.
I was not in any rush to head back inside and I decided to sit down on the little wooden swing that hangs from the pine tree out in front of the cabin. I kicked back, and it occurred to me that a whole gray day lay stretching out ahead of me. I could afford the time to leisurely coast to a stop, and maybe even kick back again, and again, and again. I felt as though I was gently swaddled in the lap of luxurious creek valley grey. No rain fell under the tree. The air was filled with the heavy scent of pine. The fog was already lifting.
On a whim, I planted my feet firmly on the ground and pushed the swing back as far as I could. I picked up my feet and swooshed forward, feeling the chill air peck at my cheeks. Damp wisps of my gray hair fell across my cheeks as I swung back and forth. I held perfectly still, not moving at all until the swing came to a complete stop. Only then did I stand to head inside for that second cup of morning coffee, and only then did it occur to me that perhaps this was not only a day for gray skies, gray hens, a gray-toed rabbit, and warm wisps of gray smoke. 

Perhaps this was also a day to recognize that I really am a very fortunate gray-haired lady. A touch of blue had just begun to spread across the sky.
Christine Tailer is an attorney and former city dweller who moved several years ago, with her husband, Greg, to an off-grid farm in Ohio south-central Ohio. Visit them on the web at

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