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  • Last modified 95 days ago (March 22, 2018)

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Another Day in the Country

Spring has sprung

© Another Day in the Country

The birds love my little backyard pond, this time of year — or any time of year for that matter, when it’s dry.

The robins are there in full force, male dominant. There are blackbirds, finches, and flocks of starlings descending to cover the landscape.

When I peeked out the window yesterday, two female robins were close to the edge, water covering their toes. They seemed to be enjoying the feel of it, sipping liquid refreshment now and again, gracefully dipping their beaks in, then sitting a minute with their heads back, like ladies at a beauty shop waiting for a manicure. These two girls didn’t just drink and fly like most of imbibing birds, they lingered. I liked that lingering attitude.

Driving to Abilene to exercise, I could tell that Nature was becoming more active. That translates into more road kill, and since our attending street-cleaning vultures haven’t returned from their winter retreat, we are left dodging scent bombs on the highway.

Where else but in the country does one have to drive so far to exercise? Most folk used to work for their dinner in rural areas, and work didn’t mean sitting behind a desk or in front of a computer. Now it is work to exercise, especially for me.

When the weather is lovely, I can work outdoors in the yard and console myself that I’ve exercised enough to stay healthy. But, when it’s windy and cold outside and Nature is on a hiatus, I have to find a place and a way to stay fit. So I drive to a conducive gym.

It isn’t the treadmill, the bikes, or the weight-lifting apparatus that keeps me going — it’s the people that I’ve met there that spur me on.

A few of us meet for coffee between exercise sessions and have become friends. We discuss the latest books we’ve read and tell one another about yesterday’s adventures. We trade recipes, share opinions, and improve our overall health. How’s that for a win/win?

City dwellers would find my 70-mile round trip to exercise several times a week unbelievable. There are so many things in a city within walking distance.

In Ramona, there are fields within walking distance, and train tracks. There is a post office within walking distance, a nice convenience. There is an old high school just down the street, also a short walk, but recently razed by strangers and mostly left to crumble in neglect. It’s so sad that I don’t even want to look in that direction, let alone walk.

My mother used to look out of her bedroom window over at the old high school building and smile. She went to school and graduated from there. She saw my father disembark from the school bus on the first day of her freshman year and liked what she saw. Later, he got a chair for her to sit beside him in orchestra class. A year after they graduated from Ramona High School they married. All these things and more she remembered as she gazed at that old building that remained viable through the years.

Not now! I’m glad she doesn’t have to see it in this shape. I close the blinds in her old bedroom.

Better to look across the street at the tangle of trees that covers the ground where things used to be. If we get rain, wildflowers will grow again in that field. The sun will race shadows through the saplings in late afternoon. Feral cats will hold contests of supremacy in the bushes, and the vultures will soon be back, nesting in the old trees along the creek. These are the things within walking distance, or just across the street, in the country.

My hens, wintering under the gaze of a full spectrum light bulb these last couple of months, are laying full tilt. I complimented them yesterday on their production: eight eggs from nine hens.

One of the girls isn’t doing well. I’m sure she isn’t laying often. She looks “furvulshtuld” as my grandmother used to say. I’m sure there is a real German word in that mix of vowels and consonants somewhere. It means disheveled.

I can always tell who is laying amongst the hens, as each “nationality” produces a different color.

My little buddy, Clayton, stopped by with his mom this week and we did all the usual things, in spite of the wind. We tried feeding the fish, although it is still early for them to be eating after their winter fast. The pond water is still too cold. We found a few daffodils and picked them for his mother. We gathered eggs.

“The topknots lay the white eggs,” I told him.

“Funny,” he quipped, looking at their fancy feathered heads, “I thought they’d lay the blue ones.”

Nature is always full of surprises. While some hens might have exotic names and fancy feathers, these brown girls have blue eggs as their claim to fame. They are artists, just like me, on another day in the country!

Last modified March 22, 2018

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