While letting the dog sniff and drain at 5AM yesterday, I noticed Orion had lazily arisen in the eastern sky. I had to check the computer when I went back inside to be sure it was him. I’ve never been much of one to keep track of the constellations, but am more the type that just stares at the night sky as a whole with a sense of wonderment. I can’t see a lot of sky at my house—basically just up and east. I’m too hemmed in on the other three sides by my precious trees. On the hill where I was raised, you could take a few steps away from the house and see most of the sky from horizon to horizon. I miss that sometimes. I always looked for Ursa Major and Ursa Minor back then. With a tree-line only 30 feet from my house on the north side, I only see those old bruins in the dead of winter, after even the white oaks have shed most of their leaves.
It was cool that visit outside. The cicadas had gotten chilly enough that they’d quit their monotonous singing, and the crickets had slowed considerably. I used to be able to tell the temperature by the crickets, but that’s one more thing that’s slipped my mind from disuse. I thought I heard an owl in the far distance. If it was, it was the first time in 3-4 months. I haven’t heard any whippoorwills for quite a while, either; maybe they only sing when they’re raising their young. Waiting on the pooch, I remembered the days at the farm, when I would have taken my wiz in the darkness along with the dog. At this house, there’s always the danger of someone turning around in the driveway while I’m in midstream. Best to play it safe!
I took her out again at 8:30, since she showed signs of needing to answer nature’s call again. I didn’t hear any crickets then, but a couple neighbor’s dogs were yapping and two roosters were crowing in the distance, but from opposite directions. A pair of tufted-titmice near the back of the house was carrying on like a couple fussy old married folks. The pooch stood and listened to them for a couple minutes, before returning to her sniffing and marking routine. Somewhere in the distance, some cattle were bawling at a place where there aren’t supposed to be any cattle. I reckon someone has some “cow-punching” and fence-fixing to do.
It was 7PM before I really paid much attention to my surroundings again during an outing. That visit outside was to tinker a bit, though. I never have finished my sawmill base, so I thought I’d go drive a few spikes. I’m out of shape and out of practice, so between that, sweat on my glasses, the fading light and working bent-over, I was occasionally missing the heads of the 16’s I was driving in the soft pine and leaving those tell-tale crescents so indicative of an amateur. (You construction-types just keep your trap shut!) I recalled the times nearly four decades ago when the ornery old gentleman across the road came over when I’d had a long, tiring day of building on my house. Trying to stifle a grin, he’d ask “What’s this click-click-thump – click-click-thump that I keep hearing?” I always told him that I was just trying to see if I “scare” nails into the wood by hitting real close to them.
It sounded for all the world like a bear squalling back in the woods while I was out that time. I finally decided it might be a neighbor in that direction having problems with his electric saw binding in the cut. While I don’t want to think of anyone getting hurt by a kick-back, I’d also hate to think of a bear being that uncomfortable, too. After driving spikes a few minutes, I noticed that I’d scraped the thin old skin on my hammer hand on something and was bleeding on my work. I took that (and the mosquito that kept buzzing in my ear) as a sign, put my tools away, went inside and washed my hands, then settled down with the wife and the dog to watch the idiot box for a little while. Hope your day was more exciting! © 2013