Twice a day, a flurry of activity breaks the peace and solitude. Livestock squeals, bawls, and whinnies. Dogs bark. Cats yowl. Diesel engines rumble. Then, the frenzy passes, and, for the most part, quiet returns, broken only occasionally by the shriek and rhythmic clucking of a hen announcing her successful laying of an egg.  It’s late winter, here, the unbroken snow fields where animals don’t roam waist deep in snow.

Today, sunshine bathes the land, delighting eyes weary of the past week’s storms. Birds sing and peep, crows and ravens cackle, happy for reprieve. A moose wanders by, still chewing on leaves and branches stolen from the rhododendrons.  She adores them this time of year, those and the twigs and branches stripped from the aspens and the maples by the ice storm than followed last week’s heavy snows.

Inside the house, faintly you can hear the washing machine cycle through its rinse and spin, rinse then spin, again, while, outside, you hear metal pounding metal and the occasional muttered oath when that pounding falters. Somebody’s smacked their thumb, again, while driving in a latch pin.

A while later, chains clank as a tractor rumbles up the track to park inside the shed. The engine dies.

Footsteps clomp upon the porch.  Chores done, it’s time to get to work up in the office.  It’s Monday morning in North Idaho.

Last week’s snow