By Lynn R. Mitchell
It’s days like this that make me pause, breathe deeply, and renew my appreciation for where I live. It’s rainy in the Shenandoah Valley … cool temps and overcast skies on this sweater morning in late summer with fall right around the corner. The earthy smells of wet dirt fill the air … tree limbs are bent under the weight of rain-soaked leaves.
As I rock on the porch, it’s a little chilly while listening to the gutter drip drip drip and the crickets chirp their familiar late autumn song. Bright yellow chrysanthemums decorate the steps and window box … purply-red sedum brings color to the flower beds at a time when most everything else has stopped blooming and begun its long slumber.
The slightest of breezes moves the American flag hanging from the porch. Birds are calling to one another … a bluejay in a nearby tree, the chirp chirp chirp of a cardinal that just landed on the wisteria vine, others that I don’t recognize. Over it all is the loud, annoying caw caw caw of bullying crows. A low hum signals the arrival of a hummingbird as he works the flowers in front of me, unmindful of my presence, making a low clicky-chirp sound mixed with the hum of his wings as he dips into the blossoms.
And the rain just picked up, a steady downpour. We needed it … the ground had become dry and there were scattered brown patches in the yard. While mowing yesterday, I kicked up dust clouds along the edge of the woods. Today’s rain will help.
Last Saturday’s thunderstorm with the destructive winds is now a memory (see Thunderstorm damage in our yard). SWAC Husband has been busy this week, using his chainsaw on the downed trees, picking up countless limbs, and making fence repairs. Leaves and sticks were everywhere, even plastered against the side of the house and covering our deck furniture, but they have now been cleaned up and everything is freshly mowed. It hardly looks as if anything happened.
A red squirrel just scampered across the front yard with a walnut in his mouth looking for a place to stow it until winter. He picked a spot at the base of the maple tree, dug into the mulch, and left his prize before making his way across the street and out of sight. The rain doesn’t seem to bother him or slow him down.
At the edge of the back yard, we harvested black walnuts yesterday that had been blown off the trees during last week’s storm, collecting almost a bushel to be dried and cracked. Those rascals are hard to get into and their dark stain covers bare hands. Right now the nuts are in green husks that will turn black as they dry.
The wisteria vine across the porch is still full of leaves, as is everything else, but that will all change soon as fall colors begin and then leaves flutter to the ground. Our wisteria was a safe haven Thursday night for a small, young opossum who took refuge in its safety from some unknown danger in the dark night. The front porch light was on and I was inside talking with a friend on the phone when movement caught my eye as the little visitor sure-footedly made his way across the vine. That’s a sight we’ve never encountered in all our years living here. He was gone the next morning and we haven’t seen him since.
Rock rock rock. My feet are propped on the porch railing. It’s all so peaceful. Other than the birds and sound of the rain and crickets, there’s no other noises. The mountains are socked in and no longer visible from low clouds and fog. The pace today is slow so I think I’ll just sit and rock for a while longer before getting back to work. It’s a rainy late-summer day in the Shenandoah Valley….
Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell
September 13, 2014