Cold and damp, again I have the tent window flaps closed to hold in my body heat. Early dawn light seeps in through the tent fabric, vague and tentative. I squish my eyes shut tight and burrow deeper under the blankets. Then I hear what it was that woke me; a loud warbling gargling, gobble gobble gobble, close by. I sit up and partially unzip a window to peer out. I see only a curling whitish grey mist trailing through the wet leafless grey and brown trees, hovering, obscuring vision into a dream like state. Gobble gobble gobble, I hear the turkeys walking, throwing leaves with their beaks in search of breakfast, but I can not see them. Gobble gobble gobble, further away now, moving slowly along the forest floor gabbing and gobbling. The moist cold air has sunk into my awareness, I close the window flap again, curl back up under the covers, and search for the dropped hand warmer that I used to fall asleep with last night. It still emanates warmth that I hold against my neck. Gobble gobble gobble I hear far enough away now that it could have been my imagination, as I drift back to sleep.
An amazing day on the River! The rain has finally stopped, but its cold! I have meandered up the river to a spot where some friends of mine and more of their friends have congregated for a camp fire. Beer flows freely, but I’ve had two, my limit, because I need to drive back to where my tent is. Darkness has settled in like a velvet blanket, soft, slow and smooth. The fire is warm and bright, with people all around, talking, laughing. A couple of guitars have materialized and soft music dances with the flickering firelight. I hula-hooped until I got tired and winded, then sat on a log to watch and listen. Orange sparks fly up in a crazy swirling dance when the burning wood shifts in the fire. I follow them up and see them mingle with the clear bright stars that look close enough to touch. Smoke billows upward in its own swirling dance illuminated by the orange and yellow flames. It is rather enchanting, this smoke rolling up into the night sky, as it leaves the orange light of the fire, I can still see from the blue light of the stars. People’s jubilant voices rise with it to mix with crystal star light. The air is cold, but I am warmed by friendship. A kinship of river guides, it’s a way of life here on the River, stories, campfires, smoke and stars. When I get back to my tent, I sleep a sound sleep of contentment.
I am laying half asleep in my tent, windows zipped up to hold in my body heat, morning light has crept in and threatens to bring me fully awake. Its too early, I want another hour of blissful unconsciousness. I am right on the edge about to slide sweetly back to dream world when a loud resounding tut-tut-tut-tut-tut-tut-tut-tut-tut… echos through the forest. I groan, roll over onto my back, refuse to open my eyes. Tut-tut-tut-tut-tut-tut-tut-tut-tut… I groan again. Its cold and damp, I do not want to get up yet, I burrow deeper under the blankets. Tut-tut-tut-tut-tut-tut-tut-tut-tut… I know exactly where this little bugger is and what he’s doing. I spied him last weekend near the top of a dead tree (hollow at the top) down the hill, next to the office. A little red bellied woodpecker who has found the perfect tree for drumming.
I imagine him all puffed up with bravado, chest stuck out, feathers combed back, strutting around with cool bad boy sunglasses on calling out to the world “Hey single ladies, come and check me out! I’m the answer to all your dreams!” and “All you other males, stay out of my territory, cause I’m the biggest baddest woodpecker around and this is MY tree!”
Tut-tut-tut-tut-tut-tut-tut-tut-tut… There will but no more sleep this morning. Might as well get up, get dressed in cold clothes that my body will have to warm up. Look! I have more than enough time to make coffee, and do some yoga before I head down the hill and go to work. I will be guiding a raft down the river today in the chilly grey rain! At least the water is high! Tut-tut-tut-tut-tut-tut-tut-tut-tut… echos through the trees. Smiling, I start unpacking the amp stove.
One of my favorite (usually) morning meals is something I never heard of until I was dating the man I eventually married. Matzo Brei is matzo crackers dipped in cold water, broken into bite size pieces and cooked into scrambled eggs. Its and after Passover meal to use up the leftover matzo. Traditionally, people put sweet stuff on it like jelly, but I like with hot sauce! As Passover approaches, matzo goes on sale, and eventually a case of it comes home. I start asking for Matzo Brei. Maybe it’s because I love scrambled eggs, or maybe it’s because I love my husband’s cooking, or because we have fun morning time together cooking and eating it, or maybe it has become a spring tradition for me. When Matzo Brei shows up it means winter is almost over and everything will be green and sunny and warm again soon. Whatever the case, serve it up, and eat it with joy!
Standing with my husband in the road, I had walked him down to the edge of the property to show him the lilac buds I have been watching slowly grow. It’s mid morning, but grey and cool. More rain in the forecast. We are talking, and ambling back toward the house when we hear a hoarse crowing croaking noise. In tandem we look up and together see two very large dark birds flapping just above the tree tops over the creek. The circle closer, the slightly larger one banks and its white tail fans out, close enough to see the individual feathers, then I see its white head. “Bald Eagles!” I cry out, excitement surging through my veins. The slightly smaller one dips down, totters on air currents, and glides over us, its underside blotchy juvenile coloring readily apparent. How spectacular to see an adult and an immature bald eagle so close! We watch them circle out over the creek for many long minutes. They climb higher and start circling over the hillside too, ever enlarging circles, lazily flying and gliding higher and farther away. We watch until they are nothing but unidentifiable dark specks against the grey sky.
In my flannel pajamas, fleece robe, and wool slippers, sitting in a rocker on the porch, drinking coffee, both hands wrapped around the mug soaking up its comforting warmth, watching wet bedraggled chick-a-dees and juncos flit around the feeder. The morning is grey, sodden, and chilly, just the tiniest green buds are visible on the leafless trees. Spring feels a million miles away, but I will sit right here (im)patiently and wait for it, as long as I have coffee in my cup. I refuse to think of all the things I want to do in the yard when the rainy cold mist finally abates or any of the thousands of indoor projects large and small that need doing but I have no interest in starting. I just want to absorb here and now, observing tiny black and white birds enjoying this grey day. A raucous caw grabs my attention, dragging it across the road, up above the wet grey trees. There he is, a giant black crow, silhouetted against a brightening grey sky, water on his feathers glistening deepest black, a pulling black hole I could fall into, perched atop a bright white branchless dead birch tree. These polar opposites, black and white, shining in the sky, a reverse beacon that has pulled all color from this rainy world leaving only grey, wet, and chill. There is sunshine behinds the wall of fog masquerading as the sky, trying to burn through with its intense silver fire, too bright to look as directly. That glistening deepest black crow calls again, takes flight, and disappears into the the shimmering silver abyss. I sit still, listen to the water drip off the roof and trees, watch the chick-a-dees, smiling.
Home again, showered, fed, and in pajamas, laying in bed reading, two large tabby cats curled at my feet. My mind wanders away from the words, and realizing I hear slurping noises, sit up and look towards the cats. They are grooming each other. Both have their front paws holding the head of the other cat while they both try to lick the head and face of the cat they are trying to hold down. I expect this mutual grooming to turn into a free for all brawl (as it usually does when they are in this position), licks changing to nips and the chase is on. However, they seem content to just continue cleaning each others face, head, neck, and ears. I watch, mesmerized, pink gnarly rough tongues, flashing between sharp white teeth, combing fur into submission. After a while, they each set to work on themselves, methodically moving from shoulders, to tummy, each leg and foot in turn. Scratchy tongues working hard to remove unseen (to me) dirt and grime, once and while using teeth chewing to dig deeper, scraping and scratching themselves squeaky clean. Life is peaceful and serene when you can take the time to watch cats groom.