I walked up the steps from the barn this morning looking toward a glowing orange ruffle in the dark wet duff. It was an old stump that had become home to an incredibly bright orange fungal growth which may be one called “witches butter”. I am astounded each day by the diversity of life at our doorstep.
For the past several nights Grandpa and I came home after dark and around bedtime from dinner in town, the airport or the play I mentioned last week. As we drove up the drive we slowed far a small herd of deer, two bucks and three or four does. They eat the pasture grasses in the evenings. One buck, larger than any we’ve seen, rests with his legs folded on the hill near the orchard. He’s the caretaker for his herd. If we roll silently and slowly (the Prius), he doesn’t even unfold to a stand, and watches us pass about 20 feet from the car.
Yesterday afternoon I turned onto Lupine just after a rain shower and slowed for the road bunnies. Remember how they would wait for us to approach and THEN dash across, one, then two, then 10 quail buddies, then the last brave bunny. We’d stop so you could spot them hiding under the brush, but you could never see them. Me either. You called them sneaky road bunnies. I love the way they munch grasses right next to the quail scratching through the soil for seeds. It’s a mixed species dinner party. Sometimes a jay or a raven drop in and the guests scramble.
A couple of weeks ago grandpa and I slowed on Lupine to watch a flock of turkeys cavorting in the meadow. (I call it a meadow because of a song we sang about it.) We counted 14 turkeys. A few were squatting to rest, some eating but the most interesting pair were sparring. You know what that is? Two tall, long-tailed, dark feathered wild turkeys stood two legs braced about three feet apart and dared one another. Then ran forward wings flapping and bumped chests. At the time of contact they would snap their beaks aggressively. I really don’t know about bird behavior, but it was so cool to watch them repeat this over and over. I think they made a turkey sound while they did it. I’ll ask Grandpa if he remembers.
The pasture is also bobcat meadow. One regularly slips across the road in the very same spot, her trail worn through the grass. She darts through the brush and out into the open where sits and preens for us. She licks her paws, strokes a long pink tongue along her back and nips ticks out of her tail. She allows us to stop the car to watch. But if we are walking, she hides in the trees. Maybe she doesn’t know we are in the car. What do you think?
Here she is at our house; although this may not be the same one.
“One man, two men come to mow the meadow, three men, four men they come to mow the hay.” Again, you say. We’d continue to count by fours then backwards again. We’d sing it all the way to town sometimes. Our singing started when we saw Salvador mowing the dry grasses with John’s tractor. He was pulling a mower attachment up across and up again. That was a couple of years back. I learned the song when I was a teacher. It helped kids learn their foursies multiplication tables. Four and three and two and one and whole lots more (not sure I have that part right) They mow the hay and they take it away on a beautiful summers day. One time we got to one hundred and twenty eight. But, I ususally started over after 64. I remember the time we opened up to the big shiny ocean on Empire Grade after leaving the cover of trees and you called, “Its a beautiful summers day.” You exhaled and held your arms wide and swooned, “Gorgeous.”
I hope you still say gorgeous. And someone gives you fantastic new words to try out. And I hope someday I can teach you your foursies with breakfast cereal, jacks and a ball, playing cards, dominoes, my grannies button jar and the mow the meadow song, too. We could get all the way to our twelves if you want. I love you little buddy. gma