ANOTHER DAY IN THE COUNTRY:   Stop, look, and listen

© Another Day in the Country

I have a friend who recently started running a mail delivery route in the Flint Hills. She was a regular member of our on-going painting class at Butler of Marion until this job opportunity sailed by. Yesterday she stopped in at class to say hello and talked about what it is like to be driving rural roads in the Flint Hills every day.

“Aside from three flat tires a week,” she laughed, “it’s beautiful!”

She went on to ask a former classmate about a flock of birds she’d seen and they decided they were bobolinks. She told us about spotting an antelope the other day — a relatively unusual sight.

“Maybe I should be writing a blog,” she said, “about all the things I see.”

I thought that was a good idea. Something like, “The Letter Carrier’s Musing.” Our original mail carriers (right after the Pony Express, I guess) were these faithful carriers of our hopes, dreams, loves, and losses bringing news to our very own door. I wonder sometimes if they, too, will eventually become a thing of the past.

We don’t all take the opportunity to drive through our beautiful countryside day after day. And, if we do, it’s often full steam ahead as we whiz through life to our next destination, rather oblivious to our surroundings. Now that we have air conditioning our windows are rolled up tight and we can’t even hear what is around us.

I’ve often told you how my sister and I looked forward to hearing the meadowlarks sing when we’d come to visit Kansas from California. We loved listening to their call from the fence posts along the road and would always roll our windows down and drive slowly those last few miles into Ramona just so we could hear them.

It seems to me that what people are listening to these days is electronics. In fact, nothing makes them stop any faster than a ping saying someone has either called or texted on the cell phone. Rare is the couple at the restaurant who are engaged in real conversation with each other. Way too often they are more interested in the bleeps and blogs on their phone.

Especially this time of year, when we’ve just come through a rather hard winter, cooped up inside waiting for spring; it would be so wonderful if we all just stopped and looked around us and listened for the miracle of nature.

The other evening my sister came over to watch television with me for a while and she tried to get her favorite cat to come in the house and cozy up on her lap. Skeeter would have none of it. The cat was busy looking and listening on the front porch for a bird that was flying around under the ceiling.

“Are you sure it’s a bird?” I asked my sister. “At this time of night? Is it a bat hunting for bugs at the porch light?” Jess assured me it was a bird.

A couple of days later we found what had gotten Skeeter’s interest. That little sparrow had built a nest in the basket decoration hanging by my front door. There in the midst of all the artificial flowers she’d built a nest and filled it with tiny speckled eggs. What do I do? That nest couldn’t stay there. As soon as the baby birds hatched, the cats would be up there.

“Sorry, momma bird,” I said, “but this is the wrong place to build a nest. Try somewhere else.”

I removed the nest and brought it in the house, put it under a glass dome to grace my table. Every time I look a that nest, I’m reminded of the beauty around us and the craftsmanship of the common sparrow to weave such an intricate little work of art in my basket. I do have to admire her taste. I was the most beautiful spot around.

Maybe today will be a good day to stop what you’re doing — even for just a minute or two — look around and relish the fact that you’re spending another day in the country?

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