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The Whitehurst Diaries: Morning Walk
By Sharon Whitehurst
Mornings have crept in quietly since the rain of Saturday evening, sounds and colors subdued by the grey fog that rolls through the valley.
The cats are awake early--by 5--and are less than subtle in urging me to arise and acknowledge them.
The layout of the hallway and master bedroom [altered during our renovation] is ideal for cat games with its circular route down one side of the double hallway, through the bathroom, into the bedroom and back into the hall. There is always opportunity to reverse the direction of the chase, skidding on scatter rugs, charging across the bed.
When the digital clock shows a bright red 6:00 A.M. I creak out of bed, feeling about for my slippers. My progress down the 14 stairs is accompanied by thumps and bumps as furry bodies plummet down to mill about in the dimness of the kitchen.
It is still misty when I go out. Sounds are muffled. The first tentative rays of the sun are striking the lower farmhouse while up the lane we are still shrouded in the remnants of night.
I pull on boots, a sweatshirt and vest, sling the strap of my camera case over my shoulder.
I have a 'snack pack' in my pocket to see me through to our usual late breakfast.
"I'm walking to the tobacco barn," I tell Jim as he heads out to his workshop.
I crunch along the lane, nibbling the almonds, dried cranberries and squares of cheddar from the snack pack.
Our renters' dry goats are lying close together under the willows, the milking goats and the kids are still in the stable. The barn cats are not in sight.
On the road I meet our Amish neighbor and his son carrying an assortment of tools.
We exchange 'good morning' and I learn that they are headed to a neighbor's to finish construction of a hen house.
I scuff along to the turning that runs past the tobacco barn and into the field.
Morning glories have seeded along a portion of the fence that separates the barn from the big pond. These are not the wild convolvulus, with small white flowers, which tangles along ditches and hedgerows. I suspect that one of my neighbors planted the originals years ago and the ripened seeds were carried to a new location--perhaps by birds, or even caught in the hay fed to the team of Haflingers who were at one time lodged in the barn.
Whatever their source, I find delight in viewing the clear pink blooms mounded on a fence post and trailing through the rough grass.
The night's dew was heavy, still beaded on grass and the goldenrod which leans against the fence.
Sunlight, strengthening by 8 o'clock, creates a fragile prism of color over the field of soybeans.
I said only that I was walking to the old barn. I find it nearly impossible to limit my walks to a designated route.
Jim used the bush hog last week to mow a swath around the field and the path, sun-spackled, beckons me.
In the tree-shade which borders the creek tiny mushrooms are growing, encouraged by the damp.
Shaggy heads of Joe Pye weed loom into the path, the vibrant purple of ironweed is a shout of color in the green dimness.
Water in the creek is still shallow, making for an easy crossing into the back field. The morning's sun has not yet touched the rows of soybeans planted close to the tree line. Green leaves and small brown pods are furred with dew.
A clump of blue flowers huddles against the outer row of soybeans. I ponder the identification: skullcap hyssop--or spike lobelia.
Rounding the far corner of the soybean planting I note a feather lying in the rough grass.
It is so heavily saturated with dew as to resemble a grey leaf. In the next few steps I find several more, pinching them into a tiny wet bouquet to carry home.
I am walking now into the sun, feeling its rising heat beat through my layered clothing.
A small pricker has worked itself past the folds of my jeans where they are tucked into my boots, and has lodged, irritatingly in my sock.
I don't wear a watch, but guess that I've been gone for more than an hour.
Jim will be wondering if I have keeled over with an unexpected heart attack [after a certain age anything can happen!] or if, more likely, I might have tripped on a fallen branch in my clumsy boots. causing me to limp slowly homeward.
Reluctantly I unzip my now too warm vest, stow my camera in its case, slog along the edge of the field till I reach the lower ford over the creek. I consider taking the track that leads up to the road, but turn to walk parallel to the creek, shaded by the overhanging maple and sycamore.
The morning glories are still bright on the fence post, but I give them a passing nod and continue, past the barn, out onto the road and the turn into the lane.
The heat of the day is coming on strong, the grass has lost its silver sheen of dew.
This story was posted on 2016-09-22 12:08:05
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