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Phew! A birthday gift that keeps on giving!

GAYS MILLS - This past Saturday, I turned 29 years old. The most notable thing about my birthday this year was probably was the weather.

After having a leisurely morning drinking coffee from my new coffee pot and sucking up yet MORE beetles (or as Thatcher squeals ‘BEEEEEEESSSS’) in the vacuum, we ventured outside to enjoy the fresh air.

It was refreshing not to have to bundle the small one up in layers upon layers to keep his extremities from getting frost bitten. In fact, he wore his light spring jacket and train conductor hat in lieu of his giant puffy marshmallow coat and thick warm hat.

Chasca, Thatcher and I worked in the yard as though it was March. In our mud boots, we discussed plans for the upcoming year and picked up the garbage the dog got into for the 100th time this year, lamenting that there was no snow to hide the ugly muddy yard. However, the warm weather was inspiring and we have lots of plans to slowly make it look more inviting and pleasing to the eye as time goes on.

Lucky for Chasca the warmth didn’t melt all of the ice and snow and he was still able to present me with my gift of ice cleats for my boots.

We have gotten to the point of our relationship where useful utilitarian gifts reign supreme over giant teddy bears and heart shaped chocolates of yore. And these cleats are the cat’s meow.

For as you may, or may not know, my driveway basically becomes a glacier during the winter months. Getting to my car is somewhat of an Olympic sport at times, even though it is only approximately four feet from the walkway.

Things have improved this year a bit after Chasca poured a new sidewalk, helping to make the drop a bit less dramatic, but alas the ice remains.

Thanks to global warming this year, so far it has not been as much as a struggle as last year. I’ve only taken one tumble, and luckily was able to wrap my arms around the back tire (as if it was a life preserver and I adrift in the sea) of my car and drag myself up to the front door handle and manage to get inside before I slid all the way to the bottom.

Last year, things were not so easy however and the chickens and I struggled to get about.

The experience for the chickens was a sight to behold. Naturally, every morning they are anxious to be freed from their coop. I wonder if they think that it will suddenly be springtime and the bugs and worms will have returned. At any rate, they don’t just hop out peacefully, they aggressively flap and fly in a scramble to get to whatever is outside before the others can. This moment of insanity coupled with a long, dramatic sheet of ice made for several mornings of winter entertainment, as our feathered friends would land and slide all the way to the bottom like they were in a downhill race—clucking and carrying on the entire way.

This year they have seemed to learn from their experience and often will fly off to the side, landing in the bit of snow or mud rather than the icy track.

I, much like the chickens would slide down the driveway on my rear most mornings en route to work. Unfortunately though, I do not have tiny little claws on my toes to dig in and help get back up. More than once, I crawled along, sometimes on my belly, until I too could reach the safety of the snow and get to the top once more. To encourage myself to carry on, I told myself “this must be what it’s like to climb Mt. Everest.”

As Chasca would watch this from the window last year, usually on the Fridays he would watch Thatcher, I assume he began to hope that our little nipper had inherited his surefooted ways, instead of my bumbling about.

Thatcher has been walking for about eight months now, and I would confidently say he is much less of a bumbling, clumsy human than his mom. However, I have to admit, I’ll probably be logging on to the world wide web later to see if they make child-sized cleats, just in case we’re wrong.