Early Birds and Skunks

I fry potatoes and Uncle Tab makes Chicken & Dumplings

While you folk bathed your faces in Michigan’s sunshine last weekend, rainclouds hovered over me in Lexington, Kentucky. On the other hand, while my husband and I wound our way through beautiful horse country, you waited in long lines for a car wash.
            What is life but continuous trade-offs? I’ve truly missed snowshoeing this winter, yet haven’t had to deal with much walking and driving on icy roads. For instance, when we drove through Cincinnati with open windows, the daffodils were breaking through the leaf-litter along I75.
            Ah, the unexpected scent of springtime. “Bet Uncle Tab has plowed his garden,” I said.
            Clouds soon gathered after we crossed the Kentucky line. And sure enough, Uncle Tab’s patch of earth was turned over when we found him cooking tilapia, rice, and vegetables, limping from stove to sink.
 “When you coming back to help me plant?” he asked.
            “When you plant. And what happened to your hip?”
            “Aw, I tripped on a rug upstairs and fell. I’m okay. The doctor gave me some medicine.”
            The following day while my uncle and aunt dozed in their recliners, Mel and I found a flock of Canada geese on his driveway. What a freaky February. The birds scattered as we drove through the gate and turned toward the Kentucky Horse Park, a stone’s throw down the road.
After passing by the national park for twenty-eight years, we at last toured its magnificent grounds. My goodness, what you don’t see from the expressway and Iron Works Pike!
More incredulous is the fact I’d never toured the region's scenic Bluegrass estates. When friends said, “Oh, you’re going into horse country,” I couldn’t visualize what they meant because I’d never strayed from the family fold.
My Appalachian ancestors depended upon a strong mule with a good work ethic for their sustenance. However, the Bluegrass people claim “a handsome horse is the highest pride of a Kentuckian.”
True, it was a sight to behold—pristine, mammoth barns on thousands of rolling acres with black fences and grazing thoroughbreds on limestone grasslands. And how I would’ve loved to tour one of those gone-with-the-windish mansions.
The vast scope of it all suddenly made me grateful for our three little acres and five hens. “Can you imagine moving all that manure? The cost and work to feed and doctor thoroughbreds?” I asked Mel.
The daffodils were opening on our drive home through Cincinnati. And our six little fruit trees were budding when we pruned them this past Thursday.
“I heard the Sand Hill Crane today,” said a friend.
“I saw a skunk yesterday!” hollered another.
I worry about Uncle Tab’s limp and Nature’s early birds. What will happen to my fruit harvest this year? And I’m a small potato. What about the commercial orchards surrounding our local communities?
Dear Reader, personally, the highest prize of this Appalachian-Michigander is gathered in a basket and bucket. The only thing I would trade my homegrown food for is another good story.