Under the Autumn Moon

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Have you ever been outside at night when a pack of coyotes started yipping and howling, somewhere off in the distance?

I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there’s just something eerie something haunting about their echoing, discordant song.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not at all afraid of the shy little buggers; there’s really no reason to be afraid of ’em. On the contrary, I actually think coyotes are pretty awesome — but there is definitely something about hearing an old ‘yote choir that really gets the blood pumping and sharpens the senses! It’ll really wake you up in a hurry!

They certainly woke me up last Monday…

It was nearly 1:30am (so I guess it was technically last Tuesday), and there I was — all alone on our back patio, hunched over my homemade cider press, squeezing out just a few last drops of golden nectar to finish up another bushel of apples.

Two of our old farm cats were playing and pawing at my feet; the frost was starting to settle in a little early; and the yellow autumn moon was peeking in and out of a few wispy clouds, providing a little bit of light here and there — but mostly, my work was lit by our backyard floodlights (best invention ever).

It may have been a little later than my usual bedtime, but I tell ya, it was an absolutely gorgeous night to be out working!

At the same time though, I have to admit — I was really starting to drag. And that’s when the ‘yotes started yapping…

Woke me up in a hurry!

It was such a fun little moonlight adventure!

But that was just one of the adventures I’ve had in the moonlight this past week.

A day or two later, I found myself under that same autumn moon (a little brighter and fuller than last time), plunging both hands into the freshly dug soil of our potato patch. No floodlights this time though; it was just me, the moon, and that wonderfully rich, earthy smell that seems to permeate everything when you’re playing in the soil.

Over and over again, I’d reach in there — and, after breaking up the muddy dirt clods with my bare hands, I’d come up with some of the biggest, most beautiful potatoes you’ve ever seen! Over 100 pounds worth of potatoes, as a matter of fact!

(Our spuds really did good for us this year.)

Now, obviously it isn’t ideal to be digging your potatoes in the dark — but I had been working feverishly to get them dug earlier in the evening; the sun just set on me before I could get it finished.

Coincidentally, I ended up jamming a painful amount of dirt underneath one of my fingernails.

IMG_20161012_200236402.jpgI don’t mean to complain, but BELIEVE. YOU. ME. IT HURT LIKE THE DICKENS when I was trying dig all that dirt out of there with a metal pick!

(I imagine it was a lot like the ancient Chinese torture method of shoving bamboo splinters under your fingernails!)

Fortunately, a little bit of epsom salt and antibiotic ointment kept it from getting infected.

And it’s also fortunate that diggin’ taters wasn’t the last of my moonlight adventures…

It was just a few days later, when I was taking care of my evening chores, that a rooster pheasant started cackling up on the hillside.

Unfortunately for him, pheasant season opened this last Saturday — and I always keep my dog and my shotgun close at hand this time of year…

IMG_20161017_195808141.jpgMy shot rang true, and so there I was once again, sitting all alone on our moonlit back patio, hunching over a 5 gallon bucket, plucking the feathers off of a beautiful rooster pheasant.

It may sound kinda weird, but I really love working on those plodding, methodical tasks; especially when the world around you is quiet and cold and sleeping — and everything is illuminated by the soft yellow light of a full autumn moon!

Our latest moonlit adventure, however, was a little more stressful…

Last night, after Lindsey had left for the evening to fulfill her responsibilities as a youth leader, I decided it would be kind of a fun change of pace to take our little monkey out for a drive in the truck (she seriously LOVES riding in that thing).

It started out so great, too!

We were seeing all sorts of deer and pheasants. We were enjoying a breathtaking sunset. That sweet little wild child was jabbering away and singing me all sorts of songs…

But as luck would have it, we’d only driven a few miles before I got us totally stuck in the mud!

Talk about a bummer!

Definitely NOT the outcome I had in mind for our little daddy-daughter-date!

And leave it to me to take off without a shovel!

All I could do was sit there in the cab and shake my head, silently cussing myself for being such a dummy.

Our little monkey didn’t seem too upset by it though. I unbuckled her from the carseat, and she was immediately dancing from seat to seat — still jabbering happily, and still singing whatever little song popped into her head.

I tell ya, that little curly-haired raggamuffin can brighten almost any situation!

After a minute or two of sitting behind the steering wheel, trying to collect my wits, I finally opened the door and stepped out of the truck (and squelched down into the mud) to survey the situation.

The passenger side of the truck was sunk nearly up to the axles, and all four tires were totally slick with mud.

Definitely not a promising prognosis.

I stood there for a second, scratching my head in the chilly fall air. With nothing else to do, I took another deep breath (which came out as a big old puff of smoke), and then I sent up a quick prayer for help and got back in the truck to give it one more try. If all else failed, I figured we’d just walk home. After all, it wasn’t that far… 😉

But, after employing a few fancy driving tricks I learned from my Grandpa Blaine (and at least another half dozen silent prayers), we were able to slowly climb our way out of the quagmire.

Unfortunately, turning the truck around was totally out of the question, and there was no way in heck I was gonna keep pushing forward through that muck — so as soon as we were in the clear, I shoved that old truck into reverse and backed our way out of there — nearly a half a mile all the way down that one-lane mud-trap.

All’s well that ends well, though, right?

We eventually pulled into the driveway just as the beautiful autumn moon was rising once again over the eastern horizon — but I decided we’d had enough moonlight adventures for one week!

My little monkey and I simply spent the rest of the evening snuggling on the couch, reading storybooks in front of a cozy little fire…

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Yup, life is good!

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