Magnetic North: Retrieving Summer

Summer the llama
Summer the llama

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Welcome back to Magnetic North, where the first green Easter of my life here is about to dawn. Other Easters have seen blizzards, ice storms and weather so bad even a hungry bunny wouldn’t venture out in it. But this year, with temperatures in the 60s this week - yes, I said 60s - greenup is hinting at coming with the first good rain.

Of course, being Minnesotans, we rave about the warm weather for all of 30 seconds before prophesying gloom and doom from lack of moisture. True, fire is a factor in these woods and roadsides. Especially with lightning strikes and the influx of people. So before you know it, we’re into full-blown “Remember when....” tales of fires dating back as far as the oldest one at the talk-in can recall.

As I crunch across our meadow, our llama, Summer, in tow, I remember past dry springs and the fires that threaten to follow in their wake. “Don’t worry girl,” I tell her, more for my hearing than hers. “It’ll rain soon. Probably the whole month of June - just like it always does.”

Summer doesn’t know what “always” happens in Minnesota in spring. She is coming up on her first anniversary here, having been brought up from her Iowa home last May. Summer may or may not remember those first three years of life down south. But lucky for me, she remembers the sound of grain shaken in a can and how yummy goat chow is. Because from time to time, Summer goes walking - walking without me OR my permission. Add a night of ferocious wind gusts to that tendency and you have a situation.

Wind undoes all kinds of things. From entire forests to puny human plans for a morning. My barn doors are a case in point. A week ago the wind huffed and puffed and blew the back door to the barn open wide…so wide that when I looked out in the morning, all looked just fine. The door was flat against the side of the barn and the goats and Summer were long gone. Of course, I saw none of that. So I sat slurping oatmeal and chatting on the phone until I was good and ready to do chores. Only when I got to the corral gate and saw the front barn door still shut and latched did I get the picture.

Before I’d even gotten into the corral, the herd of six goats surrounded me, forming a vortex around the one coffee can full of grain I held high in the air. After the biggest goat, Bosco, managed to hook one hoof in my barn coat pocket and another on my shoulder, I chucked the can heavenward, accompanied by a few choice words.

After banishing the goats to the corral and securing the gate, I beat it back to the house where my patient husband was waiting to go downtown. “Sorry, honey, the llama’s out so we’ll have to go later,” I said as I grabbed the car keys and slammed out the back door. Not that I planned to get her into the car when I found her, mind you. My hope was to find her, then get OUT and walk her home.

Before getting as far as the end of our driveway, I spied the brunette hulk across the road in a neighbor’s yard. I imagined she passed up grazing in her own meadow simply because it felt so delicious to gallop down our long driveway and peruse forbidden grass. But would she forego the taste of freedom for a bit of goat chow?

She would. Without so much as crossing the road myself I retrieved my runaway with a few shakes of the grain can. And you know, I think she was genuinely glad to be retrieved! Once she recognized me and heard the shake/shake/shake of the can calling, she perked up her gorgeous ears, batted her to-die-for lashes and cantered merrily back to her mama. It was a simple thing to walk her home, grain can perched on my shoulder so that Summer could eat her way home.
Mission accomplished, I slammed back into the house and called for Paul to get ready to go to town after all.

He was not impressed with my speedy capture.

“You know, this place is getting crazy,” he said, as he pulled on his hat and gloves for the second time in less than a half hour.

“Getting?” I laughed. “I’d say we’re already there!”

Airdate: April 3, 2010

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