Peevish Pen

Ruminations on reading, writing, rural living, retirement, aging—and sometimes cats. And maybe a border collie or other critters.

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Location: Rural Virginia, United States

I'm an elderly retired teacher who writes. Among my books are Ferradiddledumday (Appalachian version of the Rumpelstiltskin story), Stuck (middle grade paranormal novel), Patches on the Same Quilt (novel set in Franklin County, VA), Them That Go (an Appalachian novel), Miracle of the Concrete Jesus & Other Stories, and several Kindle ebooks.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Winds of Change

Change is in the air, even if it’s a bit cold for spring. The pasture has some sprigs of green; a flock of robins have taken up residence down the road; a redwing blackbird perched in the remains of the dead birch tree the other day. This was the first redwing I’d seen for years. He flew away when I came out with the camera. Every evening about sunset for a week now, the spring peepers across the road start peeping. If there’s a sound of spring, it’s the peepers.

A spring sight I love is the flock of grackles. The grackles move into the pines every spring to nest and to raise their young. Saturday morning about 50 of them were marching across the yard and searching for grubs. They do a pretty good job of de-grubbing the lawn. Last year, not many showed up. This year, they’re back in force.

A lot more other birds are here, too. A militant mockingbird guards the back deck. He lets me get pretty close to him when I scatter birdseed. He dive bombs other birds, so the jays and the cardinals keep him busy.

The horses have already started to shed. Before long, the birds will gather the hair and make nests. I’ll find little red horsehair nests on the ground next fall.

On the farm down the road, the turkeys are back. Sunday, Maggie and I were on the rise above the creek when something caught her eye. I looked down through the still-leafless trees to see a flock of a couple dozen turkeys—mostly hens—walking toward the pine woods.

“OK,” I told Maggie, and she took off to herd them. The turkeys, of course, took flight. Until border collies learn to fly, they’ll never make great turkey-herders. But Maggie tried.

Maggie’s running is so beautiful, I can’t adequately describe it. Earlier I had watched her run big circles and execute perfect flying lead changes when she switched directions. Wow! I’d thought as I watched her legs rearrange themselves in mid-air. That moment paled when I saw her run the turkeys—one fluid motion of border collie perfection: a hard and low and fast run, a disappearance into the woods, a reappearance at the top of the opposite hill, and a run down to the creek. At the creek, she flopped into the water, and the magic of the run vanished.

We’ve had hard winds the last couple of days and nights, and we’re likely to have more.

But spring is coming. I’ve seen the signs.


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