Wednesday, January 4, 2006
Wednesday, January 4, 2006
Posted by Bill of the Birds at 7:12 PM
Today was the first beautiful day of 2006--temp about 55 degrees F, sunny, nearly cloudless. Large flocks of American robins chortled their way over Marietta and landed on lawns hoping to find something edible. I half expected to see a chimney swift in the warm blue sky. My office window was open--and this is January 4!
Zick met me for a late lunch at Brighter Day Natural Foods downtown and when she told me she planned to honor the day by walking the loop trail at home, we hatched a plan to do the walk together.
It was not to be, for me at least. I could not pry myself away from the mountain of tasks at the office until after 4:30. This meant I had only about 45 minutes of good daylight left until sundown. I called Zick and told her to start without me. I hoped to meet her at the midway point of the loop. Then I hopped in the BWD van and started the 30 minute drive home to Indigo Hill.
Winter is cruel in many ways, but especially in its limited daylight. There are many days when I get home two hours or more after dark. Contrast this with glorious summer evenings when, even if I get home at 6:30 pm, I've still got three hours of light to enjoy outside.
Racing the sun home I was struck by how pink the low light made the bare gray trees. How the broomsedge grass in the meadows seemed to glow. It was a beautiful winter evening, but it was fading fast.
As I rounded the final curve before our township road, I glanced across the valley to our property and gasped. It looked like our birding tower was on fire! The sunset reflecting off the large glass windows created this momentarily horrifying effect. I took a not-very-good picture of it, just to document the moment. Then hurried the last mile home.
The best laid plans of mice and magazine editors...I walked deep into our west woods, over Catbird Head, and down along the west creek which was flowing nicely from yesterday's rain. My plan was to catch Julie and Chet Baker as they crossed the creek at the bottom. When I got there, I could tell I was too late. I could hear Julie whistling to Chet far up the gasline cut, almost to our orchard edge. So I stood there for about 20 minutes listening to the winter woods going to sleep for the night. A hermit thrush tchupped from the pathside. Juncos lisped to each other near the old barn down on Goss' Fork. And the cardinals kept up their chipping until it was clear the dark was overtaking the light. The moon made no sound as it rose through the bare tree branches. The woods rested, barely breathing.
I was entranced and peaceful. Then a cold shiver ran through me and I imagined my grandmother Thompson saying "A ghost just stepped over your grave."
Reverie broken, I turned east, and headed up the hill for our woods, then our meadow, then home.
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