I got sent home early from work today, since the job that I was on got rained out. The rain came earlier than predicted, but at least I got in six hours today. I’m sitting in the porch swing beside our front door, with the Mighty Dachshund on her leash and at my feet. I moved the welcome mat over to where she likes to lay, so she wouldn’t be on the cold concrete. It’s much cooler since the rain began.
I’m not actually in the rain here, since I’m on the porch, but a soft rain is falling, and the pooch and I are enjoying the scents, sights and sounds of the day. I notice that the breeze is from the ESE, rather than the usual west. That probably means that the rain has set in for a while, rather than blowing through quickly.
We sat here about five minutes when I brought the pooch outside before dawn, also, and listened to a couple barred owls in the hollow. Now, the little birds have taken over and seem to fill the woods, beginning only 30 feet away, with their chatter. I guess they realize that they have to eat, rain or shine. It’s been 20 years since I worked in the woods regularly, and I’m losing the memory of which calls go with which birds, though I still remember the birds themselves. It’s something that I hate to lose.
As we sit here, a couple crows fly back and forth through the woods and caw to one another. I think they have a nest somewhere down the ridge, to the west of the house. A couple little flycatchers would like to explore the porch (or maybe they have a nest I haven’t noticed), but they see me and the dog, so stay in the white oak limbs, 20 feet away. A hundred feet away, a squirrel scurries across the upper half of a small (4-5”) cherry that has broken part-way off and whose upper end now rests in the fork of a scarlet oak. The natural bridge lets him leave the woods, enter the scarlet oak, then jump over to the limbs of the big white oak in the front yard, without endangering himself further by getting down to ground level. A pair of red-headed woodpeckers arrives, one on the ground, the other in a nearby tree limb. I’ve been seeing them often the last week or so, I suspect they have a nest nearby. It’s probably been 10 years since I’ve seen any others, though we have plenty of hairy, downy, and pileated ones, plus flickers.
Sitting here, I see a good selection of wild greens in the lawn before me, as well as some violets and bluets. Plus, there are hundreds of tiny green oak leaves, showing where some of last fall’s acorn crop has germinated. The Mighty Dachshund begins to growl, and I laugh when I realize that she has just now paid attention to the pieces of firewood in the front yard that I stood on end last night to split. I tell her what they are, and that they’re harmless, and that she should be quiet. She obeys, but she still eyes them suspiciously. Finally, my wife comes to the door and suggests that we go to town and get the dog a burger for lunch, not that she’s spoiled or anything, so we do.
After running the original errand, I drive my wife around a bit and take her a couple places to give her an outing, then we head home. It’s not raining by the time we get there, and the pooch and I reclaim our spot on the porch for a while. It’s obviously later now; you can tell that the darkness of the day isn’t due solely to the overcast sky. The unseen sun is getting lower. The birds are getting quieter, except for the crows. A couple new voices are added to the chorus, though. One of the area roosters is sounding off and a tom is occasionally gobbling on my back ridge. It seems a little late in the day for his vocalizations. People are getting home from work now, and kids are getting out of school. I don’t know which is which, but the sound of cars racing out my ridge-top road is added to the sounds of nature. Then, too, so are the whistle of a far away train, the rumble of passing jets and the whine of truck tires on the old Northwestern Pike (about a mile-and-a-half away as the crow flies). Sometimes, even those sounds are interesting.
The dog finally makes it obvious that she wants to go in, so I let her in the door and close it behind her. I then take the eight-pound splitting maul from the back of the truck and begin to split some of the pieces that the dog growled at earlier in the day. Within a minute or so, a soft rain begins again. Now I really AM swingin’ in the rain—swingin’ a maul, that is. Soon, I get wet enough that I call it a day and head back to the porch. The air grows colder yet, and the breeze picks up, as I sit in the swing once more. Eventually, my shoulders begin to ache, partly from the cold, perhaps, but probably more from the affects of atmospheric pressure on my arthritis.
Soon, my wife comes to the door and tells me that the pooch is barking for me and that my presence is required. What can I say? It’s a command performance, so I go inside and leave the swing empty as the rain continues to fall gently on the quiet woods and the spring grass. © 2015