Archived Story

Braving the elements to find the inner toughness

Published 7:02pm Thursday, January 16, 2014

Never before have I been more grateful to be a middle-aged broad than last week.
Because when it’s eight degrees and you’re facing more than two hours of barn chores in front of you, including breaking the ice in water troughs and scooping up piles so frozen that it’s like pitchforking crush and run, all the while losing the feeling in your double gloved hands, a hot flash comes in mighty handy.
While we’re on the subject, if you are a person who takes on any type of outdoor work in the bitter and windy element known as an ‘arctic vortex’ – great name for a metal band, don’t you think – without wearing quilted Carhartt zip up coveralls, then, frankly, you’re just a special kind of stupid.
Paul knew, bless him, by the gust of cold air that entered the house upon my exiting to the barn while the sky was not yet light, that I had begun my daily trek. He knows my routine while he lies in bed, wedged between the terriers and something like 32 cats.
He knows I rise at 5:30 a.m. so I can have a leisurely cup of hot tea (but never two because I’ll have to pee once I’m zipped up and in the middle of cleaning the third stall) before heading out. And he knows that if I’m not back inside within two hours and 15 minutes, something’s wrong and to come looking for me.
I didn’t need him to come looking for me when the thermometer shivered at eight degrees in the barn last week. I had finished feeding, mucking and was leisurely sweeping the aisle, so warm from my estrogen power surge that I had unzipped my Carhartts, wiggled out of the top half of them and tied the arms around my waist, along with removing my cap, when Paul, out of concern, came looking for me carrying a flask of hot tea.
“I appreciate that but I’m broiling!” I declared, fanning myself with a gloved hand. “Drink that yourself.”
“Don’t you want just a swig?” he asked, and I’m quite certain began to wonder if I were suffering the delirium of hypothermia when people freezing to death start to rip off their clothes.
“No!” I said, returning to my sweeping, “I’m burning up. Get back inside before you freeze. I’ll be along after I turn Fozzy and Barry out into the field.”
Paul agreed and there was a glimmer of admiration in his eye; the sort of instant realization that he had pioneer stock for a partner. His partner was the kind of woman who could brave the elements to put her animals’ needs first. The kind of woman who knew no limits when it came to following her passion.
The kind of woman who was simply out of black cohosh.

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