Last week I was reminded of growing up in Richmond with the hot, muggy summer weather that absolutely drains every ounce of energy out of me. On Friday it was 93 degrees with humidity about 150 percent that felt like a wet washcloth smacking you across the face when you walked outside. When I stepped out the door my hair went into its frizzy “yeah, it’s humid” unkempt look that used to drive me nuts when younger but at my age I now just go with it.
I thought of that tonight while sitting on my deck in the cool — let me emphasize, cool — evening air. It’s 68 degrees at 8:30 and my bare feet are on the edge of being chilly. Mr. Mitchell mowed the back yard — perhaps baled would better describe it after all the rain we’ve had — so it looks like a park down under the trees at the edge of the woods. The clean smell of freshly mowed grass and other earthy smells are in the air.
I’m watching a solitary deer quietly grazing under the apple trees that, by the way, should be full of fruit this fall because they were loaded with blooms this spring. For once, thankfully, a hard freeze didn’t get them this year. It’s dark in the woods although we still have about 20-30 minutes of light left in the areas out in the open. I can imagine all the creatures in the woods looking back at me as I peer into the inkiness of the underbrush and trees.
We’ve seen a lot of wild turkeys — one big male and a bunch of hens. Our yard became their refuge from something, I suspect. They angled through one day from the woods across the back yard and beside the house making their way up the hill to the road. Just before getting there, they caught the attention of a black lab that began excitedly barking at this group of winged creatures heading her way, and that male and those hens took to the air and flew over the trees back down to the woods.
I’ve seen turkeys kind of fly but this was full-out flight up and over and all the way down to the back. Amazing. Nature never disappoints in learning something new.
Today a huge crow caught my attention as it swooped across the front yard and by the window so I opened the door to see if it had been a hawk, and it was the crow on the ground eating something. And then a mockingbird swooped in — back and forth, and back and forth — attacking at the crow that was about three times the size of the mockingbird. It continued to eat what I presumed to be a baby mockingbird that it had raided from the nest. Nature can also be cruel.
The lack of humidity makes it particular refreshing sitting out here, something we haven’t been able to do recently with all the rain. I’m looking forward to back porch sitting and entertaining and visiting. The trees are fully leafed out and deep green, bushes have gone wild with all the rain, and we will need to tame the jungle this week by pruning limbs and shrubs and vines.
Ahh … and I just saw a lightning bug, first of the season. A cricket is chirping and a far-off bird — I can’t tell what it is — is twittering. Other than that, the quiet is mesmerizing.
Wait — there it is … the deep guttural croaking of a bullfrog in our neighbor’s pond. I was wondering why I wasn’t hearing them. Missing are the tree frogs … only quiet from the edge of the woods.
It’s after 9:00 … the temperature has now dropped to 64 degrees and it’s completely dark out here … time to take my chilly naked toes inside. Get ready because summer is only a couple of weeks away in the Shenandoah Valley….
Cover photo by Lynn R. Mitchell
Sunset over the Appalachian Mountains