Thursday, January 28, 2010


The original farmer knew what she was doing when she planned this homestead over one hundred years ago. During the last blizzard, I really appreciated that half acre of trees that lies north of our house and barn.

We could hear the wind roaring through the trees. But in our backyard, the air was still. Snow rushed down the road and across the fields east of the house, obscuring trees in the distance, But between our living room window and the bird feeder, snowflakes danced and glittered in the pale sunlight

Dave and I walked up the driveway to mail a letter. When we stepped out of the protection of the trees, the wind caught us, stealing breath and warmth. We both wore insulated coveralls and jackets, warm boots, wool hats and mittens, but it was cold! We walked backs to the wind, chins tucked into our scarves, mittened hands covering our cheeks.

I thank the farmers who left this windbreak, I thought as we raced back to the trees. Bless them for the warmth in our home, woodstove fueled by our own wood, and for the protection from the wind that steals that warmth.

I appreciate the windbreaks all year long. In the spring, birds nest there and does find shelter for their fawns. In summer, they are sanctuaries of coolth on hot days, nurturing chokecherries and raspberries - fruit for the birds and for us. In autumn, the leaves fall, adding another layer of humus to the soil. And in the winter, the trees catch the snow, dropping it in the woods and far into the fields, adding moisture to the ecosystem, water percolating into the soil, stored there against summer’s ninety degree days.

When we first saw our farm in 1980, we imagined our family settling into the house, painting it our colors, adding porches and bedrooms. But it was the windbreak with its maple trees, oak and ash clustered protectively around the house that sold us.

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