Hands of a Writer

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Hands of a Writer


Hands of a Writer

 

Are these the hands of a writer? The backs, along the rolling hills of knuckles, are chapped; palms graced with calluses. There is a deepness to the ache that is new but feels like it has always been, coupled with a fresh soreness from today’s work. Not the work of writing; that is too hard. Instead I washed the breakfast dishes in near scalding water heated on the wood stove, hauled two bags of grain out to the hay barn, then split firewood for a few of hours. Physical work that has left my body exhausted, ready for bed at 9 PM, a good excuse not to write today’¦again.

 

Each bag of horse feed weighs 60 pounds. I laid both bags flat on an old wooden toboggan, grabbed the stiff, frayed, nylon rope looped through the front eye-bolts on the sled, and leaned my body into the task. My weight challenging that of the grain toting sled mired in snow. I gripped the thin rope through old leather gloves, arms stretched behind my back, and focused on pushing off with all the strength of my thighs forced down to my feet, and into the white blanketed earth. The toboggan finally budged. Once freed from the sticky heft of snow, it slid easily through ankle deep powder until we reached a slight incline. Every insignificant rise in the meadow seemed to grab hold of the sled and stop it abruptly. I would take the opportunity to rest my arms, jiggle them about to let the fatigue seep out. Then grasp the rope again, put all my might and attention into the pulling, and inch my way up the rise. I had a few hundred yards to cover, one bridge to cross, a gate to get through, and then the lifting and emptying of each sack of grain into the garbage can used to store horse feed. By the time I’d struggled through leaden snow and surmounted the obstacles, my legs, back, arms, neck, and especially my hands, were spent. I could barely get my cold fingers to grasp the thin, white string stitched into the top of the feed sack so I could zip it lose and pour the grain into the can. Lifting each 60 pound bag seemed to take more of my strength than dragging all 130 pounds across the meadow.

 

Finally back at the cabin I warmed up a bit, drank some tea, then spent the final three hours of daylight brandishing a ten-pound splitting mall; transforming three-foot rounds of pine into firewood small enough to fit in my little wood stove. I tore two fingernails down to the quick, drew blood from a couple of scratches, smashed my thumb once, and fought off cold fingers. However, the most hurtful thing was wrapping my hands around each piece of freshly split wood, gripping tightly to pick it up off the snowy ground and putting it in my wheelbarrow. After forcing the barrow through piles of froth to the protected woodpile along the cabin I had to grasp each hunk of wood again to get it from the barrow onto the growing mound. Each slab of firewood weighs a few of pounds, some as many as ten, and my hands barely fit around these large wedges so I have to grip them tightly. Open, close, open close, grasp, release, grasp, release, and my hands, forearms and elbows start screaming with the pain of it.

 

The day is exhausted, as am I, with the last of the fiery sky light washed to purple then deep gray. A flock of Trumpeter Swans eased across the western sky shortly after sunset turning their whiteness to a pallet of orange and pink. Now, they too have found rest on a silver sliver of river somewhere upstream Ice on Williamson River as I settle into the candle lit cabin that is my comfort.  Three hours of wood splitting combined with the other ranch chores and, though I have a story to tell, my hands don’t have the energy left to work the keyboard.  But, my journal demands my attention so I make note of what I can and ask myself, again, ‘Are these the hands of a writer’.Three hours of wood splitting combined with the other ranch chores and, though I have a story to tell, my hands don’t have the energy left to work the keyboard.  But, my journal demands my attention so I make note of what I can and ask myself, again, ‘Are these the hands of a writer’.

 

Three hours of wood splitting combined with the other ranch chores and, though I have a story to tell, my hands don’t have the energy left to work the keyboard.  But, my journal demands my attention so I make note of what I can and ask myself, again, ‘Are these the hands of a writer’.Three hours of wood splitting combined with the other ranch chores and, though I have a story to tell, my hands don’t have the energy left to work the keyboard.  But, my journal demands my attention so I make note of what I can and ask myself, again, ‘Are these the hands of a writer’. Three hours of wood splitting combined with the other ranch chores and, though I have a story to tell, my hands don’t have the energy left to work the keyboard.  But, my journal demands my attention so I make note of what I can and ask myself, again, ‘Are these the hands of a writer’.Three hours of wood splitting combined with the other ranch chores and, though I have a story to tell, my hands don’t have the energy left to work the keyboard.  But, my journal demands my attention so I make note of what I can and ask myself, again, ‘Are these the hands of a writer’.

 

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