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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Greeting the Autumn...

     Autumnal Equinox. Say it fast, three times for a giggle. Well, maybe a chuckle? I guess it would depend on your sense of humor at this early hour.
     That said, its official—summer is over.
     The hummers left two days ago, near as I can tell. They spent Sunday afternoon hovering and twittering around the feeders, darting and dodging one another, giggling and spatting in their usual adorable way. Their little round bellies evidenced impending departure—I’ve seen it year after year, and sure enough, all was silent Monday morning. And afternoon. Even as the sun was setting—usually an active time at the feeders—still silence. Yesterday the same. I watched for them off-and-on through the day, but only silence.
I will keep the feeders fresh until the first hard frost, because there are always visitors on their way through. They spread the word, you know, reporting the best Hummer Inns along the route south. I like to think Hare Hollow is on their list.
     Most years, just as we think we’ve seen the last of them, along will come a feisty few, tweetling and darting again, perching on the clothesline, resting and preening awhile before gorging again. In a day or two, that group is also gone.
     BackPorch is looking rather bare as well—another sign the season has come to a close. All but three houseplants have been bathed, top-dressed, pruned and prettied before being settled into their indoor spots again. The last three will come in today—we’ve   seen our first nighttime temps dip into the forties.
     As usual, there will be pouting, BackPorch is their absolute favorite place, and they don’t come in without some protest. They drop leaves, lose their shiny outdoor greenness, and hold their stems in odd positions until they get accustomed to the change.
     Soon though, they’ll be twining down around a shelf,  reaching out to one another in companionship—and yes, it’s true, even plants don’t do well if they are isolated from others. Before long they’ll be chugging along, doing their daily chore of cleaning the indoor-air. Oh, it’ll be mid-February before we see any remarkable new growth, but they know. When the days lengthen, and the sun grows stronger, BackPorch calls again.
     Meanwhile, for Mama Hare, these dark early mornings call for lit candles on the stove, a steaming kettle, a pot of hot cereal rich with cinnamon, cloves and raisins bubbling happily on the back burner. Steaming mug and bowl are carried out to BackPorch where I’ll wrap myself mummy-style in a big fleece blanket, and settle in my chair to watch the sunrise over Hare Hollow.
     Not surprisingly, when I glance up at MouseHouse Veranda, who should I see also greeting the sunrise but Sir Fivel and his lady. They are sitting on the wee glider he built for her earlier in the season, sipping their tiny mugs of chicory. I wave in greeting. Sir Fivel nods and tips his cap. Lady Fivelina smiles demurely. We are silent though, there’s just something ethereal about this time of day, it’s a time for quiet introspection.

Happy Autumnal Equinox, my friends!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Stowaways in the Kettle...

     Monday at MouseHouse is laundry day just as it is here in the big house. Fivelina had theirs out on Bittersweet Vine-line bright and early, even before the sun was up. Little bloomers and over-alls dance merrily in the breeze along with her pretty dresses and aprons, and Sir Fivel’s knickers and vests.
     Now, mind you, it’ll be a day-long chore for her. Before long, she’ll be hauling them back in, off the line, folding and smoothing just so before bringing them in to tuck away in respective bureaus, or hang on hanging hooks.
     I saw her brushing one of Sir Fivel’s caps vigorously with a tiny bristled brush—apparently a repurposed make-up brush cut down to size. The dust flew and soon the cap was hanging out on the line too, to freshen in the sunshine.
     Me. I’m a little slower getting the laundry processed this morning—only one load so far dancing in the breeze on BackPorch lines. But I’ve been otherwise occupied, you see.
     Our annual family trek to the beautiful Pine Acres is coming up soon, and I’ve started gathering the many household things we’ll need. While it’s a cottage, and lovely as can be, all our bedding and linens, kitchen needs and cottage comforts come from home. So indeed, it’s an undertaking. The list-making began last year when we were wrapping up the last trip—things not to over-look next time and such.
     We’ve already noted that the weather forecast for that week calls for night-time temps in the low 40’s, daytime highs only in the 60’s. And seeing as we’ll be right by the water, I suspect there’ll be plenty of breezes. So the lists have altered a bit from summer gear to autumn snugglies. So while I’ve been busy gathering, stashing and checking off my lists, that’s not all. I’ve had some unsolicited help, you see.  
     I keep a special tea-kettle just for camping. It perches on the cellar-pantry top shelf all year until camping time, when I bring it upstairs, wash and dry it, and then fill it full of tea bags, the honey jar, and whatever else is small enough to fit inside—it pays to pack smartly and save all the room we can.
     So said tea-kettle was thoroughly packed and ready, sparkling in the morning sunshine there on my counter top. In passing, I caught that peripheral-something that just catches one’s eye somehow, that little oddity that can’t help but warrant a second glance. Nope. Just my imagination, I reasoned.
     Second trip past with my arms full of wet clothes to hang on the line, there—I saw it again. Only this time I was sure of it, and sure enough, on second look I spied two beady eyes sparkling in the sunlight, peeking out the spout of the kettle.
     “Okay, you!” I exclaimed. “Out with you! You’ll get packed into the trunk of the car and be stuck there for days. If you think your mama will like that—you  disappearing and worrying her to pieces, well, I think we better have a talk with her!”
     I opened the lid of the kettle and who scrambled out but—yep, you guessed it—our mischievous Bic. But wait! He wasn’t alone. As I set him free, he giggled and pointed to another roly-poly scoundrel peeking out the end of the aluminum foil tube in the pots-and-pans bag.  
     “Hey, you two! How come you’re not in school today?” I inquired.
     “Miss Winklesnout has a bad cold and Betina couldn’t teach us today. So we have the day off.” Ben offered reasonably, brushing some loose tea dust off his shirt. He sneezed then, looking up at me sheepishly. "Sorry Ma'am... I didn't mean to sneeze on your tea-bags."
     “You're excused. And tell me, does your mama knows you’re in here getting into the luggage this morning?” I hid a smile. How can you keep a straight face after witnessing a mouse-sneeze?!
      “No, Ma’am…” he hung his head sadly. “She sent us out to gather acorns for the larder…”
     “We meant no harm,” Bic added. “Please don’t be angry, Ma’am. We’ll get right to work now.”
     I held out my hand to each of them. Both hopped on for a ride to Downspout Staircase.
    “This’ll be our little secret, boys…" I whispered conspiratively as they hopped off, "...but yes, you need to gather up your baskets and go do as your mama told you. No more games!”
      "Yes Ma'am... thank you."
     Back in the kitchen I remind myself to check each bag and parcel carefully as I load the car over the next few days. Now that the secret is out—Pine Acres ahead—I’ll need to watch for little stowaways.
Now where did I put those clothespins?

Sunday, September 20, 2015

September Sunday Silence...

Soul-settling. Yes, it’s an early Sunday morning on BackPorch and I can’t help but note the sounds that are, or are not. Deep in the still dusky woods, a lonely crow calls from the tree tops. Faintly, distantly, I hear an answer.
The air is clear and cool this morning, a breeze rustles through the trees, fluffing up the light layer of leaves that have already fallen.The tree tops sway ever so gently as the morning light bathes them in highlight.
Sleepy crickets vibrate quietly—a background sound one barely notices, yet it’s there.
A tiny wisp of smoke curls lightly from MouseHouse chimney; no doubt Sir Fivel is tending the morning fire in Walnut Woodstove, setting the pot of chicory on to brew for his lady-love.
Traffic sounds on the lane are nearly absent this Sunday morning, but for an occasional rush as a car passes.
A jay calls, cutting the stillness with his alarm, but there are no birds to warn this morning. The feeders are silent. Most of the migrators have left already, and the year-rounders are still nestled quietly on this day of rest.
How I miss the early morning songs of joyful praise so characteristic of spring and early summer, but every season has its sounds, and autumn is the beginning of the impending silence. It is what it is.
Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10
Yes, my soul, be still.