Gloriously, sunshine satisfied the weather forecast last Tuesday – perfect for pruning my dwarf apple and pear trees within Richardson Wright’s recommended January timeline. The extended sunset allowed me to accomplish the day’s work on my desk, plus the outdoor project before I closed the hen chute for the night.

It’s wonderful to watch the days grow longer throughout winter, spring inching closer each morning. One of countless marvels on this planet we call home.

As the year progresses, I adjust the time to close the henhouse according to sunsets. Even on bitter, freezing nights, the hens refuse to enter the house until complete darkness.

I understand. What bird wouldn’t rather roost outdoors, particularly on a clear night under sparkling stars?

On occasion, testing my patience like my daughters long ago at bedtime, a hen or two will refuse to walk up the ramp and into their home. And let me return after sunrise barely ten hours later, and they’re pacing before their exit, miffed at their tardy release into the pen.

By four o’clock, I gathered my pruners and gloves. With the hens’ pen in view, I pruned my little fruit trees while the girls paced and squawked for me to release them.

Although it’s humorous to see the girls run, flap their wings, and fly toward the compost bin to scratch and peck, I didn’t have time to hensit. My Isa Browns refuse to learn the meaning of “boundaries.”

With each armful of branches I carried to the fire pit, the lowing sun brushed the horizon in layers of pastels worthy of a master’s hand. I stood in awe of the beauty and privilege of owning land and trees and six chickens. More than enough to produce delicious, nutritious eggs for quiche Lorraine and Nicoise.

Next morning, my biceps and neck reminded me of these benefits of good husbandry. Later, as the snow fell, I thanked my friend Richardson for his timely reminder of a week ago in his “Gardeners Bed-Book.” Otherwise, I would’ve kept my nose in my work and overlooked pruning my fruit trees.

Richardson’s January assignment accomplished, I settled into my reading chair and read another friend’s memoir. Snug with my cup of green tea, the snow fell the day long. My local library canceled their “Pride and Prejudice” book talk scheduled that night at six o’clock. Although disappointed, my 1,000 piece “Bees & Honey” puzzle kept me in good company. (I’m almost finished! Seventeen pieces left.)

Before sunset, I walked the slippery road with my ski poles. My heart leapt when the voice of our neighbor’s little children filled the still, cold air. As I passed, two brothers rolled snow for the middle of a snowman close enough to the road for me to admire. “Very nice.”

“Thank you,” they replied and kept rolling.

Dear Reader, just down the road, two more children built a snowman with their parents. We waved to each other.

A double portion of goodness, in the last two hours of daylight.

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