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In Akira Kurosawa’s “Dreams” one of the scenes involves a day when it rains when the sun shines, a day when children are advised to play indoors because the foxes have their weddings, and do not like to be seen, but a boy disobeys, and watches anyway, and gets in trouble.

I thought of that scene today when a funny spring storm, with bright sunshine and rain mixed with snow fell just as we were leaving our farm and heading back to Spokane.  We have splendid views of the sky to the west and the south, but both the north and the east are hidden by mountains, so when weather comes from those directions, it feels like it’s on top of us before we can see it coming.

 

Snow and sun, Evans, WA, April 12, 2014

Snow and sun, Evans, WA, April 12, 2014

I did not see any foxes, and doubt if they were getting married—as a matter of fact, I’m not sure that foxes are common in our neck of the woods—we do see lots of deer and turkeys, and an occasional coyote. But the light of sun shining through rain mixed with snow is definitely strange, magical.

My wife and I have owned that piece of property for almost 25 years now—we bought it while we were living in Kotzebue—a place to buy a one way ticket to when they ran us out of town—a joke that would have been funny if it didn’t cut so close to the bone—but we’ve never managed to live there.   For years, we had a variety of renters in the old farmhouse—they helped pay the mortgage, but they all seemed to be troubled people—at least two died from drug overdoses, and one spent time in jail for child molestation. For the past few years—since our last renter left in the middle of the housing boom in 2007—we’ve let the place sit vacant—we call it “our cabin”—and now that we are living in Spokane, less than 100 miles away, we can visit on weekends—or during spring break. We spent the past few days planting trees (my wife’s task) and fixing the plumbing (my job)—but taking breaks to sit on the porch and enjoy the view. While digging a trench to access a valve, I kept thinking of the Towns Van Zandt song “To live is to fly”

“We all got holes to fill
And them holes are all that’s real
Some fall on you like a storm
Sometimes you dig your own

The choice is yours to make
And time is yours to take
Some dive into the sea
Some toil upon the stone

Well to live is to fly, all low and high
So shake the dust off of your wings
And the sleep out of your eyes
Shake the dust off of your wings
And the tears out of your eyes.”

Driving into the farm earlier in the week, we were playing Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s version of “Somewhere over the rainbow”—the one where he gets the words all wrong but gets the song so right—and when we left today, there was a rainbow over the whole canyon. Who knows how our lives will go—but wonderful things happen when rain and sun mix—maybe foxes do marry—maybe magic things happen—maybe dreams do come true.

 

Rainbow over Dead Medicine Road, Evans, WA, April 12, 2014

Rainbow over Dead Medicine Road, Evans, WA, April 12, 2014

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4 Comments

    • margaroot
    • Posted April 13, 2014 at 7:08 am
    • Permalink

    What an interesting touchstone for me. Kurosawa and Townes Van Zandt. My friend, Loretta was a good friend of Townes and often talks about him. You probably know the song. She’s coming through town next weekend. Maybe we’ll see a rainbow?

    • Marvin Falk
    • Posted April 19, 2014 at 12:51 pm
    • Permalink

    From what I have seen from your posts, your farm does not have the low-level threat of intrusion so common to such places in America. I remember how the fight to keep the ambiance of old New England was slowly being lost to modern commerce around Amherst when I was a grad student at U Mass in the middle 60s. Not only the new structures, but the subtle pressure on other property owners to do something profitable with their assets. That had already happened to the prairie landscape of our farmland in Kansas in the 1950s where it became difficult to get out of sight of some billboard or some split level placed in the middle of a once productive field with no landscaping. I would like to see more of your photographic interpretation of this. You have the eye for it.

    • denniswitmer
    • Posted April 21, 2014 at 6:00 am
    • Permalink

    Marvin

    The farm is a lovely spot–we were up there again this weekend, cleaning up some junk from the previous owner (we’ve owned the place for about 25 years, so it’s about time) and planting trees (my wife’s project)–and the birds were singing, there were deer in the meadow, and turtles and frogs in the pond–a beautiful spring day. But there are clear cuts (courtesy of Forest Capital, a subsidiary of Staples, that brilliant success of Mitt Romney), and a new Barrite mine (used in oil well drilling muds) just down the road from the farm–a neighbor said recently “they’re closing in on us”–so there are threats…

    • Bob
    • Posted November 28, 2014 at 3:40 am
    • Permalink

    It’s an onion snow, “Snow and Sun”. It is. It is nature reminding us that it is time to plant onions. Planting time varies from location to location, so April 12th must have been right for Evans, WA. What’s the etymology of “Onion snow?” My guess is that it is that luminous quality of a peeled onion. Or maybe onion skin parchment. It’s naming something seen that is transitory but memorable. The term has no author that I know of, it probably rose up into our vocabulary out of popular acclimation.


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