My goats. I will miss sitting outside on a sunny afternoon (like I am doing right now) watching the goats grazing, reading a book, or writing, or just thinking about things in a loose, unconnected way. I will miss observing my healthy, shiny, vigorous animals living their ordinary animal lives.
I will miss my ponies - the smell of them, mostly. How I love the smell of horse. I will miss leaning my back against Poppy's ribcage, warmed by the sun, and breathing in the sweet scent of her mane. I will miss blowing into her nostrils, and feeling her green, grassy breath blow back at me. Her strength, her solidness, and the incredible softness of her muzzle.
I will miss my earth: this earth, and all the herbs that grow from it. I keep meaning to make a list of all the plant species I can find on my land; at least, the ones I can name. I haven't done it yet, but right here from this folding canvass chair in which I am presently parked, I can identify:
four species of pasture grass
lance leaf plantain and broad leaf plantain
German chamomile and Roman chammomile
dandelion and false dandelion
Not including those I planted on purpose:
apple trees and plum trees
cherries, pears, and
A veritable poem of plant life.
I know this piece of earth and my animals inside and out, now. I know which of these plants the goats like to eat, and in which seasons. Right now they are eating the thistle buds, just before they flower purple, the only part of the thistle they will eat. They are eating dock leaves, which they ignore at other times of year. They are nibbling on the branches of the neighbor's pie-cherry which lean over the fence, and now is the only time that they may do this, because cherry leaves turn poisonous once they begin to wither in the fall. The clover is nearly done, and has become brown and unappetizing, but the blackberries are at the height of their deliciousness, hung with clusters of small green fruit. Tansy in flower is a natural anthelmintic, and the goats seek it out when bothered by worms.
I will miss watching the seasons pass. In that tropical, nearly seasonless land there is no winter, no spring and no bright autumn, only the stark division between wet and dry. I will miss the mountains. As I sit here, in August, Mount Baker's wide white skirts are turning pink in the light of the lowering sun. My entire northern horizon is lined jagged peaks, glittering with ice in winter, cool and blue today. I will certainly miss snow, the magical way it transforms mundane landscapes with mysterious shapes and shadows. I will miss my children's excitement at the first snowfall, and the homely rituals of Christmas.
I could go on and on. I will miss services at my church, and singing out loud as one voice among many. I will miss my kitchen - oh how I will miss my kitchen, which I have slowly and organically arranged entirely to my own liking. I will miss my knives, my favorite soup pots, my grandmother's cast-iron skillet. I might miss my jewelry, a little, I suppose. I will miss espresso.
But all of these are mere details, and a way of avoiding naming what I will most. I lapse into trivia because I am afraid to say that I will miss - terribly, frighteningly, horribly - my daughter Rowan.
I will miss her help, of course, for she helps me a great deal, but more I will miss her silliness and her wittiness. I will miss her crazy curly hair and her dimples. I will miss her sharp and funny sense of style, her bravery and her whip smart insights. I will miss her company and her conversation. She has the most outsized, ridiculous laugh, and I will miss it rediculously. Rowan, my gorgeous, intelligent, funny child, I will miss you every day.