farmThe sun has barely risen above the horizon. The morning cold makes the feral cats act bold, while they fold their bodies to shrink from the wind.As I step out the door, the dew finds the hole in my shoe and enters therein. More cats appear out of thin air… while I carry their food. Busy mouths eat rapidly as empty bellies soon extend. The afternoon sun is on a lower arc, but still has the power to drive me into the shade. The paler, yellow light is not as bright, and speaks reverently of the coming of the snow. Morgan County… the blessed land for those who are grateful to be protected by the ever-embracing mountains. We live in peace and go about our lives as we strive to make a better world.

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On the evening of 9-11, as I put the goats to bed, large flocks of birds flew south… being rapid upon the wing. Two, three hundred strong they race across the sky knowing that to beat the cold they now must fly.  In the morning the clouds were a deep red–a sailors warning spoke of dread.  The rain came down like a curtain draped across the scene…two rainbows appeared across Warm Springs Ridge, delighting my mind’s eye.  So much color on this grey, dreary day.  As I opened the door to the barn, the goats looked at me with a countenance that said, “Are you for real?” The feral cats fed reminds me of where and how they will fare when the cold of winter bites deep into their flesh. The kittens born in the spring have no idea about the change of the seasons and the suffering that awaits them. We need the rain, so I don’t complain….will stay warm and dry for today…. no birds will fly.

As the declination of the sun declines, the declination of my stored energy from wood rises from the ground ready to burn and release its heat to keep our home warm and toasty. Our benevolent sun takes care of us in many ways; the solar wind shelters us from the calamity of deep space by forcing the void to withdraw. It allows all who reach up for its warmth and power to survive and grow; we know that the ancients fell to their knees to honor the one that allows life to exist. On a sunny day in winter, I face the inferno and long for the time of days gone by when the sun climbs high in the sky. I wait knowing that the Snow Princess will soon dust the land in wedding gown white, and the glare from the sun will become bright. The yellow orb sends its light for me to absorb, as I wait for the decline to cease, and the suns zenith to sail overhead and force me back into the shadows on a summer day.

[These moving, lyrical prose-poems were written by Morgan County, West Virginia farmer Ralph Gonzales.  He is 70-years-old.  If you enjoyed these sketches as much as I did, tell Mr. Gonzales we want more.  More! More!  Pictures courtesy of Beth Rankin.]