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I wake before dawn. Trish lies beside me. The bedroom is dark. Although it is the last week of September, the temperature remains in the eighties. The window is open. The air in the room is still. As is my habit, I hobble across the room. At my age, hobbling is as good as it gets this early in the morning.

I do not turn on the light in the bathroom. There is a window a foot or so above and to the side of the toilet. It too is open. While seated, I turn toward the window. In the predawn darkness, I can make out a line of maple trees that separates a woodlot from the lawn behind our house. Although hidden by the darkness, I know a pond lies beyond the tree line.

Bird feeders hang from the arms of a metal stanchion dug into the lawn. In the darkness, they remind me of ghosts floating through the air. I imagine at least one bird, perhaps a white-throated sparrow, lost in its dreams, safely tucked away in one of the red cedar trees that stand like two somber sentinels on either side of my woodshed or in the drooping branches of the blue spruce beside the feeders hanging from the metal pole. (Whether or not sparrows dream, I prefer to think that they do, and since this is my reverie, there is no one to contradict me.)

The spruce tree is not tall when compared to the cedars and maples that were on our property when we first arrived. Before building our house on the twelve acres that we have come to know over the last thirty-five years, Trish and I owned a six-acre parcel on which we had intended to reside. We first planted the spruce there, only to dig it out when we decided to live elsewhere. It now reaches nearly twenty-five feet in height.

The sound of crickets gradually pervades what I had first perceived as silence. It is a common misperception that this sound, common throughout the summer, is made when they rub their legs. Instead, I have read it occurs when the insect rubs one wing against the teeth of the other wing.

A crow calls from somewhere farther back in the woodlot. Another croaks a reply. I recognize the single notes of a cardinal coming from below the feeders and then the steady chirping of a chipmunk squatting atop the rocks that form the foundation of my woodshed.

It has been a good year for chipmunks and rabbits. In early spring, we watched the cottontail kits emerge from their nests. By high summer, they were hassaring around the yard, a term Trish invented to describe their erratic jumps, random kicks, and wild hops. Whether this twitterpation is play meant to hone the rabbits’ ability to escape predators or brought on by their well-documented sexual urges, it is fun to watch. As fall approaches, bucks and does grow fat on buttercups, clover and plantain that I have allowed to grow tall in the grass, knowing these are some of the cottontails’ favorite foods.

The chipmunks appear to be everywhere, scurrying from their tunnels built inside the rock walls that grace our property, returning with cheeks full of sunflower seeds dropped by the birds that frequent our feeders. We hear their complaints whenever one of our Labs unwittingly disturbs their routine. One cheeky fellow spends his mornings atop the head of a cement dog. It is one of two we have placed on either side of the slate steps leading down from our front door. Trish and I often peak out a window to watch the little guy laze under the sun, periodically preening the black-and-white stripes running down his reddish-brown fur.

I imagine that the little rodent I hear outside the bathroom window has raised his paws to wipe away the last webs of slumber from his eyes while wishing he could squeeze back between the stones for another few minutes of sleep.



  1. Emily Says:

    That chipmunk-friend is so cuuuuute!!

  2. Gilberto Halechko Says:

    Wow that was odd. I just wrote an very long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t show up. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again. Anyway, just wanted to say fantastic blog!

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