Friday, October 11, 2013

Early October Porch Sitting

There are two places on our porch that are frequent parking places for my backside. The first one is the swing near the door on the end of the porch, where it wraps around the front corner and back along the north side of the house. The other is the edge of the porch near the center of the front of the house. The height there is a comfortable distance to the ground for my legs. The slope of the ground makes the north end a bit too short and the south end a bit too tall. Often, when I’m seated there, our little dog is laying at my feet. She would be largely an outside dog if she had the choice. She enjoys lying on the porch, but she likes the grass better.

The leaves aren’t turned here very much, yet. A touch of color can be seen on the tips of some branches, or the sunniest side of another. Some white oak leaves are simply turning brown and falling early. A few do that every year; I’m not sure why. The rest are still green and attached. There’s been a slight to moderate breeze for several days—“the winds of change” I guess you could call them. Other than the rustling of the leaves, things seem quieter in the outside world that they did a few weeks ago. My wife says the earth on this part of the globe is getting ready to go to sleep. She’s not far wrong, I guess.

My little dog lies there quietly, but her eyes, nose and ears are extremely busy, especially her nose. She sniffs, therefore she is. She finds the scents that come wafting to her on the breeze to be fascinating. To watch her sides, you’d think she was panting, but if you watch her nose, you notice that her mouth is closed and she’s pulling in short bursts of breathe. Try it and you’ll find that it works better for humans too, when you’re trying to sort or identify odors. All I smell is the scent of autumn, and I would have no idea how to describe it to someone who’s never experienced it. I’m sure SHE smells a whole lot more—perhaps even the horse that seemed to nicker from my back ridge when we were here yesterday. I assume the sound came from the farm of the neighbor behind me, though I’ve never heard horses there before.

Today, a couple nuthatches chatter as they look for bugs under the bark of nearby trees. I can tell that the dog hears them, but shows no interest. The clatter of black-birds in the distance grows louder, and they DO get her attention. She’s especially interested when they arrive at the tree closest the porch, after seeming to move from tree to tree. She gazes at the treetops with interest as they chatter and scold, looking for acorns or bugs. It’s been a lean year for the former; I don’t know about the latter. This flock, though noisy, is only a few dozen; I have seen flocks of hundreds, thousands, ten-of-thousands and probably even hundreds-of-thousands this time of year. I assume they’re beginning to gather for migration.

Four crows get a little rowdy across the road on the neighbor’s place. I think they’re the same pair and youngsters that I’ve been hearing (and now seeing) since spring. The search for food has an extra urgency this year. Spring rains kept the oaks from setting very many acorns this year, especially the white oaks. What few acorns are available are from the red oaks, more bitter, so less favored by wildlife. The little flock of Blue-jays that checked out the big white oak in the front yard seemed visibly upset that one of their favorite trees had nothing for them this year. A pair of wrens are sitting on my tractor now, carrying on as if it were nest-building time, but of course, it isn’t.

Amongst the brown oak leaves that lay on the ground before us are the still-green leaves of the small, misshapen linden in the side yard. I noticed that its leaves were beginning to fall the first morning after we had a 41 degree night. I guess you can tell it’s basically a southern tree; all you have to do is whisper the word “frost,” and its leaves are ready to give up the ghost. I need to cut it off this winter (along with the trees crowding it) and let it resprout, so it will be straight enough to resist wind-throw.

A couple evenings ago, about dark, we were sitting here in the swing and I heard what I thought were the neighbor’s cows. They sounded entirely too close to still be in their pasture. After listening a few minutes, though, I decided that wind direction and volume was making them sound that way. I recognized the sound of cows bawling for their calves, now probably being weaned in a nearby field or maybe even sold off already. Even animal mothers will wail for their lost babies. To those who’ve heard it and seen the frantic look in the eyes of those cattle, it’s a mournful sound.

My little dog eventually got up this evening and walked over to the door, to let me know that it was time to go inside. Her little bed and my wife awaited. © 2013


Chickenmom said...

Lovely - seemed I was sitting there right next to you! We have very few acorns too, but I must have gathered at least a thousand hickory nuts so far. I have never seen so many. It's going to be a very tasty winter!

Sixbears said...

Porches are great. Porches with a view of nature are even better. Now having a loyal dog to help you enjoy it is better yet.

Leaves are well past peak back home. Lots of bare branches. It's still pretty, but soon it will be the "grey times." That time when the leaves are down, frost has killed off the plants, but there's no snow cover yet.

Gorges Smythe said...

Around here, the walnuts did well, Cm, but the squirrels are hitting them heavy, since there are few acorns.

Yeah, Sixbears, I'm trying to enjoy it while I can.

Grandma Yellow Hair said...

I have to tell you I really enjoyed my visit here tonight. I too felt like I was sitting there on your porch enjoying mother nature.
You have such a gift for writing. I love sitting on my porch also but after this post I know I will enjoy it even more.
You mentioned in your comment that your sale was a bust too. Its a bummer isn't it but you never know until you try it.
Have a great weekend

Mamahen said...

Sounds like a good evening! Thank you for sharing it :))

Sunnybrook Farm said...

Sounds like you are a little cooler over your way than it is here. I usually go out from the house to sit at various chairs and benches that I have positioned around at spots that I like. Usually a cat or the dog will follow. I need to reposition some of them for cold weather as it is nice to sit in the sun and out of the wind if possible. It is nice to stop and listen to the world go round.

Gorges Smythe said...

Thanks for the kind words, Maggie. I'm glad you enjoyed the post. We've decided that was our last yard sale, we DO have a bit of luck with our local buy-sell-trade paper.

There's a lot to be said for enjoying the creation, SF.

Ralph Goff said...

We have fantastic autumn scenery here too right now but not for long. I spent part of the day working amongst the yellow leaves of the aspen forest checking fence lines. Nice work.

Gorges Smythe said...

I think our best early color is still a week away, Ralph. The oaks, though, probably won't peak until next month.

Crystal Mary said...

I love the descriptive way you write, I can see the whole peaceful (accept for the crows) picture. I love the smell in the air before it rains.

Gorges Smythe said...

You're welcome, Mh. I wish Blogger would quit putting comments in place AFTER I answer. Your comment wasn't even there when I replied to Maggie and SF. And it happens all the time, too!

Thanks, Crystal. I know what you mean about "smelling rain." A lot of folks either don't seem to smell it, or don't understand what they're smelling.

Mamahen said...

Everything on my data connection has been messed up. I guess someone must not like the things I share or talk about lol.