Some tawny White-tailed does hiding in the overgrown fencerow spooked at the crunchy frost underneath my dad’s feet this morning, leaping Jane Deeres before him at exceedingly close range. He hasn’t decided on a doe permit yet so he watched them disappear down the lane through floofy, frozen tall grass. On his way back to the house empty-handed, he observed a coyote bounding out of the swale. When I was a boy there was a deep hole in the grass thereabouts, where the tile came in from the field and water eroded the dirt over time. Back in the day, Grandpa fenced it off with post and barbed wire so the cows (and us kids or tractors) wouldn’t fall to their peril but by this time it must have mostly caved on itself. Maybe it’s drier and the coyotes hide in there on reconnaissance missions for mice, woodchucks and barn cats? I’m reading Dan Flores’ excellent Coyote America. At any rate, my parents now have no choice but to rent much of the land behind their home to the local dairy to pay in full those property taxes which would otherwise crush them. The dairy is the filthiest sort of operation producing enough medicalized liquid manure on a daily basis to fill the Empire State Building top to bottom, several times over.
We used the swale for hockey in the wintertime although none of us wore skates, it was mostly just sliding around in boots (rubber galoshes worked the best). Grandpa had picked up some hockey sticks and pucks in a pile of junk, at an auction. There were some terribly rusty skates no one bothered with, they adorned the cobwebbed basement wall throughout my childhood.