Every morning I walk out the door at 30 minutes past dawn with a bowl of cat food, a bucket of water and a bottle of goats milk and baby rice for the piglet. The moment I shut the door and the dogs and I clatter down the steps the ducks begin to shuffle and call from behind their gate in the barn.

I go the other way and empty the cats food onto the work bench outside the feed shed where all the cats mill about waiting for me.

Then refill the bowl with poultry mash from the feed shed.

Picking up my bucket of warm water again I walk across the quad to the barn. Greet Duck starts to bob up and down.The ducks behind her begin to pace and call and this duck who is always waiting perched like a sleepy chicken on top of the gate will stop bobbing stand straight up and turn around and jump back in with her sisters. Every morning.

I fill their outside water bowls, quickly fill their feed bowls and then slowly so as not to set off a stampede in the wrong direction I open the short gate ( an old truck side) and out they all wobble – straight to the food and water for a few moments then they peel off under the field gates and into the fields and are gone.

Then I take the babies bottle out of my pocket and feed the piglet. Who has not been waiting quietly.

After this I retrieve the bowl and fill it with ducks eggs. The bowl of eggs and the empty baby bottle and the empty water bucket come with me straight back to the kitchen.

I wash the eggs, wash the bottle, refill the water bucket, take another bowl of kitchen scraps and the 5 gallon bucket of warm water and off I go again, back out to start the chores.

It is raining this morning so I will be working with my head down. Scrambling between the sheds and barns.

One thing I notice when I go to to town is I consciously walk straight. I am different from the farmer girl.

My shoulders go back and my brow unfurrows.

On the winter farm I tend to scuttle, like one of my animals, hunched, camouflaged amongst the cold or the wet. So many clothes on, multi – skinned, intent upon my routine, smelling and listening for changes, eyes darting from under my hat for signs of ill health or hunger. Watching for danger underfoot or from a large animal. One of the cogs in the farm wheel. Submerged. Going about my mother-farmer business. Brown and earth like. Content.

In the city I walk open up to the sky, I feel my shoulders throw back in delight, straight and strong, I swing off the train, bouncing up the steps to the road – my spine unfurls, my feet in their town boots with height, my head comes up to watch and be aware, I think differently, I consciously don’t flare for smells as much, I listen to words with amusement, I need not comment or manage, I become individual- sharper- more female, apart, more woman than herd animal. I slip into another kind of gear. A single transparent original skin. What is the word. Glide. That’s the word.

Instead of a cold scuttle I do a cold glide!

We are all many characters in our own play. There is no reason why we cannot be all of them – and quite happily too!

Now I will put on layers against cold and rain, make the bottle, fill the bucket, scoop the cat food and soon relieve the Greeter Duck from her post. Time to go to work.

Love celi

WEATHER- Rain and the wind coming in from the Southeast. That’s not a wind we get often. But very warm today.

49 Comments on “THE GREETER

  1. This is a truly lovely and well-written entry! I can walk with you in my imagination in both places and both modes of life. I grew up in southern Illinois and lived in Chicago for many years, too, although I never got to live on a farm. I always thought I would love to be a farmer, but I think I was kidding myself. You do it so beautifully. I am glad you get a chance to live out the other parts of yourself as well. Thanks for sharing it with us!

  2. Is the Greeter always the same duck? Or do they take turns, who’s up there on the gate first watching out? Can you tell who is who among most of them by now? It would be hard for me, even seeing them daily to give names to individuals in that khaki army. Do you requisition a few eggs for your baking? You must, of course as that would be one of the great benefits of duck keeping. I kept white domestic geese, but could not tell them apart, except that the ganders were larger.

  3. Thank you for sharing this beautiful story of yours. I’d love to be a farmer because it is the permanent way to stick me to nature. 😀

  4. I love hearing about your routine.
    I wonder why the ducks don’t all escape in their impatience? It’s nice that they don’t, but it’s odd.
    That line “Who has not been waiting quietly.” Little Demando Jude.

    I’m also a bit of a environmental chameleon. I think it’s a very useful thing to be able to adapt to your social situation, your physical surroundings, etc. There is no virtue in being a statue of consistency. It services no purpose and often impedes.

  5. Lovely. I like knowing your whole routine. Thank you. And it is fun to picture you in Chicago gliding around. Hope that warmth makes everyone happy.

  6. Brilliant! Yes, we do put on different skins for different parts of our lives.bWhile at our core, we are always very much ourselves. Love this Celi!

  7. Wow! Such insight/outsight! You are a woman of your own and know yourself well! A pleasure!.

  8. P>S. – Phantastic photos! Love your duckling! The sunlight is so becoming to her and the early morning light on them all is breathtaking.

  9. ‘ . . . back out to begin the chores’ . . . God almighty, most of us would feel we already had done a day’s worth . . . ‘! Surprised Jude still has the entitlement of a bottle: he does enjoy the best of two worlds . . . 🙂 ?

  10. This felt so familiar! I, too straighten up, tuck my butt and glide when I’m not scurrying about at home. I’m always kind of surprised (and glad) that I can still do that! I take great comfort in the morning routine, lots of mulling time to organize the rest of the day. If something disrupts the routine the whole rest of my day is apt to go kittywampus.

    • You should do that. Not too too, just under an hour north of Milwaukee.

  11. Ahh… I can easily see why you did well with the theatre arts writing; you’re a multi-personality slipping effortlessly from one reality into another: )

  12. Just noticed a broom leaning against the post over on the far side of the duck/poultry enclosure… Is that for convincing your recalcitrant hen down out of her roost in the trees?

  13. This description of how you change between country and city is eloquent. Incredibly beautiful. I appreciate the reminder that we are many selves. Somehow remembering, lifts a burden. “Ah, yes! I can be a different one today!”

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