A Saturday Morning at Home
Finally, a Saturday morning has dawned with sunshine aplenty. It is now mid-morning and the first chores of the day are done. Breakfast prepared and consumed; dishes put away then others loaded, ready to be cleaned. The various livestock fed and watered and now nestled down for a nap in assorted locations around the property. Our Lab Duckie is outside in his sanctuary basking in the warm glow of the sun. The Pug puppy Ali has eaten her food and drank her fill before performing her morning ritual of wiggles and bounces prior to going outside to do her duty. She has now settled in for a nap. Hollie, our ancient Shi Tzu has done her morning things and wandered around before finding a ray of sun flowing through the window in the living room. The cats, Zhu Zhu and Puss Puss are in their areas; Zhu Zhu prowling the property somewhere and Puss Puss sleeping on our bed, again in the sun.
The children have dispersed. Our eldest has gone to watch one of her friends graduate from the local university. She will be doing this one year from now, having gained her degree in Creative Writing with an eye on a Master’s and a university teaching profession. Already she has had her papers used in the same classes she attends as a means of teaching other students by her professors, and they all love her and rave about her as being the best English and Writing student they have had in years, if not ever. Her future appears secure.
Our youngest daughter is in her room, at present playing with our youngest son. She will turn 16 in a week. Where does the time go? She is gone with friends more often than not now, and to hear her playing with her little brother is a delight that I fear will soon cease. But at this moment in time I attempt to capture the sounds of laughter emanating from her room and file away the memory against the uncertain future. They giggle and laugh, playing a game of some kind. This is the sound of Family at its best.
The eldest boy is away at work in the city. He has his own place now and has all of the struggles of a young adult. On his day off yesterday he came by to showcase his fishing prowess. He had caught some twenty Largemouth Bass, keeping only a few for a fish dinner at some point in the future. I taught him how to fillet them using last year’s Father’s Day gift of a filleting table for the first time. He did well, and went back to his home all smiles at a wonderful day spent in a wonderful manner.
Our middle son worked last night, and will again this evening. Tomorrow is his school’s graduation, and he will be there watching as some of his friends take that next step in their lives, not realizing this may be the final time he sees them in his life. One year from now he will cross that same stage taking steps toward a future we cannot foresee. He still has thoughts of entering the military and while that makes his Mother and I proud, we do have our concerns.
But for today, it is beautiful on a Saturday morning for the first time this year. The temperature is warm, there is abundant sunshine, and a light breeze is blowing through our valley. The birds are singing their praises for the day, and all is right in our little world.
Gradually, the sounds fade until all I can hear is the sweet songs of the birds. The song of a Mourning Dove comes from one area; the call of a Cardinal from another. How many can I identify? There, is that a Woodpecker in the woods to the North of where I sit? Yes, I believe it is. I hear a Robin, and a Blue Jay. They are common enough here that we hear them frequently. Less common is the Gold Finch, but I believe that I hear one nearby. A Hummingbird flitted by yesterday. They are a true wonder to watch, having the unique ability to hover in mid-air while sipping at the nectar of our Lilac Bush, and view the Peonies wistfully which have yet to open their petals. I have seen several Hummingbird Moths around the Lilac flowers intermixed with the bumble bees. They are of approximately the same size and coloration as a bumble bee, but if they hover long enough and you look close enough you will see a wedge shape at the tail which distinguishes the moth from the bee.
Overhead, I see a pair of those homeliest of birds, the Turkey Vulture. In years past I thought that when they circled like that they were over something dead; now I know that they are riding the air currents in ever increasing spirals. I have heard that they have the ability to soar in such a manner for hours, maybe even the entire day. Imagine, simply hanging on a current unseen in the air by anything else, yet you can see it and bend it to your will to soar with no effort whatsoever. To rise and fall on the very air, simply watching from above; observing all life as it glides beneath you.
A harsh cry echoes through the trees indicating a crow has come calling. There he is, sitting high in the old Walnut tree, watching me as I watch him. I know they are smart birds, tough as well. If I am not mistaken, they will occasionally run a Great Horned Owl off its nest, push the owl's eggs out and lay their own eggs in the owl's nest then leave, thereby forcing the owl to raise their babies. I am not sure if this is true, but I did read it once.
Off on the Northern end of our property, flitting through the green leaves I see a flash of bright orange. It comes to a halt high in the tree and I focus on it. It is an Oriole! In all my years in this area I have never seen an Oriole. I go into the house to get my camera and emerge ready. I search all around and though I see the bird again, he never sits still long enough for me to focus the camera and get the shot. Ah well, it is enough to have seen one.
Our grounds are filled with trees, with Walnut and Hickory predominant. The trees are finally full of newly born leaves, bright green against the dark gray and black trunks. It is nice to be able to look and not see our neighbors several hundred yards away. It feels as though we are the only people in the area, and we are blessed. Squirrels, both Grey and Fox scurry about the limbs and ground finding nuts from last Fall for their breakfast this morning. They pause occasionally, watching and listening for some danger to their lives but the only danger here is Zhu Zhu, and he now lies sound asleep in the tree house I built for my son in the giant Walnut tree across the yard, having completed his morning rounds of the property.
I gaze at my Garden now, full of pride at what I am accomplishing there through the sweat of my brow and the aches of my joints. Nearly sixty Green Bean bushes are showing with some nearly 8” tall now. Yukon Gold potatoes are growing nicely in their mounds, twenty-some odd of them. I am hungrily awaiting the first batch of Green Beans and New Potatoes, I assure you. After a triad of scares involving frost and freezing temperatures over the past three weeks, it appears my Cucumber plants are finally able to grow unhindered by the cold temperatures, although tomorrow night is presently forecast to be down to near 40. I have lost a few of these, but I tried to be prepared by having other seeds planted two weeks ago as a precaution. These sit on my deck beside me now, several seedlings springing forth ready to take their place should I require their services. If all goes well, we hope to be able to can some twenty to thirty jars of Green Beans, perhaps a hundred jars of pickles and maybe even some corn. The twenty-odd Tomato plants are ready with buds for the first blossoms of the year, the flowers a bright yellow. The girls of the household will dine on fresh Tomatoes in the coming weeks while I use some to make a salsa for them to keep and eat later. My wife loves salsa and my first batch met with her satisfaction. I had no idea what I was doing but somehow I stumbled through and created something good. It would be easier to tell how it was if I liked salsa, but I am strange that way. I trust her to tell me whether it is good or not. She said my later jars were better than any store bought salsa she had ever had. She loves me, this wonder of my life. I am glad to give her something made by my own hands that she loves.
I rise from my chair and wander over to the Peach tree. Looking carefully I see a good number of Peach buds growing there. Good, this year it appears as though we will have a harvest of Peaches. Last year we had none as the late frost killed them. If we have Peaches there is a good chance the Wild Grapes will be on the vines as well. Two years ago my daughter came down the hill after getting off the bus eating grapes. It astounded me to find bunches of WIld Grapes that were large enough to eat, but there they were.
The Apple tree I planted last year has several small bumps behind the now fading flowers that indicate possible growth of Apples. This year just might be a bumper crop for us. Time will tell.
Speaking of time, the sun is moving overhead now, and I feel the need to just let it bath me in its welcome warmth. I close my eyes, lean my head back and enjoy the sounds and smells around me. What a wonderful day.