The cool evening air nips at my cheeks as I head back down the hill, lugging the full three-gallon waterer for my chickens. I re-open the end of the ark where I keep their food and water, but they take no notice of me, still engaged with the treasure hunt of finding scratch grains that I scattered in the leaves on my first trip down.

I position the waterer on a bit of broken cinder block, wedged to keep it as level as possible, since nothing on our land is ever truly level (except, one would hope, the house itself!). All in a day’s work living on a hill.

When I unscrew the plastic stopper, water blurps out into the red tray that matches the combs and wattles on my four birds. One comes to drink, the others are still more interested in scratching. It is, after all, something they’re very good at.

My bare feet slide in my work boots as I climb back to the house; I often stuff them in without socks to do this chore. As I approach the house, it strikes me that I am suddenly looking the sun in the eye as it sinks slowly behind the low hills on the other side of the valley where our road runs. Somehow being level with the sun gives me a huge expansive feeling and I stretch out my arms to embrace the world.

Otto, our boxer, comes up along side me to enjoy the view, but before too many minutes have passed I hear the low whine in his throat that tells me he’s cold and thinks it’s time to go inside.

I pat him on his graying head and push open the back door to find my husband curled up in our oversized chair, reading to Eli.

My heart is full.

I am thankful.

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