A Porch of My Own

A Porch of My Own

Friday, March 25, 2011


I saw a brand spanking new baby last night. She was welcomed into this world by a gathering of weary but delighted grandparents, aunt, and cousins.

My friend Faye had tears rolling down her face as she met her newest grandchild for the first time. Less than four hours earlier she had buried her mother. She and her daughter (the aunt) and her grandchildren (the cousins) had come straight from the out of state funeral. They sat together in their black and white dress clothes waiting for baby CC's arrival. It seemed that CC had been waiting for them to get there.

(Photo - CC looks at her dad)

We don't take babies for granted in our family. Every one that arrives safely is met with not only joy but a relief that is overwhelming. Almost 18 years ago I stood outside a delivery room door holding my 3 year old granddaughter Natalie and listened for the cry that would tell me granddaughter Lexi made it here safely. Her young parents, my son and his wife, had lost a baby girl after Natalie was born. When I heard Lexi cry for the first time a wave of relief washed over me that almost knocked me to the floor. I gripped Natalie and the door frame to steady myself.

This little lost baby was also the granddaughter of my friend Faye. Her daughter Nicole, the aunt, is my daughter-in-law. So she knew the fear everyone has that has lost a baby, especially a healthy one that is just a couple of weeks from coming into the world as this little lost one was.

I wish I could capture the moment the proud dad brought the new CC out to see her family. This was a group of people that know how precious life is. There was a light all over their faces as they crowded round the young dad and CC - this respect for life that radiated from them. They talked in hushed voices as if they knew they were in the presence of a miracle.

I was privileged to be there when this happened. I had come to pick up CC's cousins (my grandchildren) and take them home. Less than 3 hours earlier the doctor had informed my siblings and I that our mother had had a stroke and was in the last stages of Alzheimer's. She would be going into hospice care as we had wished when she reached this point. She is ready to join our dad, who has been waiting for her almost 6 years.

(Photo - my niece Alison looks at her Grandpa and Grandma)

I don't pretend to understand the mysteries of the universe, and I don't believe people that claim they do, and I surely don't believe what I was taught in Sunday School. But I know as little CC looked up at her dad, she is giving us all a glimpse of the wonder of life, and how it goes on. Sometimes that is all you need to know.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

You Can't Always Get What You Want.....

I headed out this morning on a hunt for shed antlers. Rickie let two big 8-pointers go this hunting season, even though he could have shot them several times on his numerous trips to the deer stand. He let them pass by because I had gotten attached to these two but he assures me they only got a pass this year! For Hill Country deer on low-fenced small acreage, they were plenty big. I was thinking that the good karma generated by this would cause the deer to shed their antlers here on our 54 acres. The fact that I have only found 1 shed antler in 22 years here did not dampen my enthusiasm, and off I went.

I wasn’t sure if they were shed yet. One of the spikes I saw has lost one side of his little spike antlers but I saw a fresh roadkill 8-pointer on the highway a couple of days ago and he still had his antlers.

(Photo - one of the antlers I was hoping to find!)

I put on my belt that has a water bottle, glasses, and bear spray on it, got my cedar walking stick and camera. We had a mountain lion in the area this winter and I have dreamed about mountain lions twice in the last week. As I walked through the oaks, cedars, and cedar elms, it was as quiet as it can be. I seemed to be the only one in the world. I moved my bear spray around to the front of my belt and made sure it was pointed to the front and the safety was in easy reach. I wanted to be ready in case that third mountain lion appearance was in real life and not a dream!

I came upon a group of trees and in the center the ground was covered with green moss. In this extremely dry country seeing anything green is cause for excitement! The tree canopy protected the moss from the harsh sun and it was beautiful in the filtered light.

I walked past a group of twisted yuccas and headed back in the direction of the cabin. As I approached the cabin, I heard turkeys by the milo feeder down the hill. When I woke up this morning and opened the window shades, I had counted 36 turkeys in the yard. Mostly hens with one big gobbler strutting around. They stayed in the yard for a couple of hours, some laying down under the trimmed up oaks and cedars by the swing, some preening themselves, some eating bugs and grass seeds. When I came outside to go work in the garden they left. Now they were back.

(Photo - taken through the screen door in the morning)

(Photo -  Gobbler is to the right facing away; hen on the left)

The gobbler was there and I tried to get a photo. His feathers were spread open in the sunlight and he was beautiful. By the time I got the camera pointed that way, he was moving out of sight. The hens stayed around the feeder. I decided to try to get closer to see if I could get a better picture of the gobbler.  I knew he wouldn’t go far with the ladies still there.

The wind was from the northwest blowing my scent down the hill toward the turkeys. I decided to try to flank them and come up on the east side of them. I crept down the hill, sending a half dozen white wing doves flushing from the trees, followed by a giant jackrabbit running by me in a blur! On my right side I could see the turkeys through the trees about 20 yards away. They knew I was there and were moving out down the hill and away from me, but they didn’t seem too stressed by my presence. They didn’t break into a run, just moseying away in the sunlight.

I managed to get the camera up and got a few shots of them walking down the fence line away from me. I could hear the gobbler but he was out of sight. The hens were making the noise turkey hens make. I think of it as a scraping chalky sound but that is probably because my husband’s turkey call uses a piece of thin wood rubbed on a wooden box that has chalk on the edge of it. This duplicates the noise they make once you get the hang of it.

I thought about following them, maybe going through the gate to the back of the property where the cliff is, but they had quit talking and I didn’t think I would have much luck. A scrub jay fussed at me from the top of a Spanish Oak as I turned to go back up the hill. I flushed the white wings once again from the trees they had settled in after I passed by earlier.

I noticed a v-shaped bone on the ground and flipped it over. It was the lower jawbone of a feral hog Rickie had killed a couple of years ago. I picked it up to bring back to the yard to show the grandkids when they come out. They don’t see these kinds of things in the city!

Once I got back to the yard, I heard the turkeys talking again. I love these birds. They walk with dignity and grace softly singing their song. They stay in groups and take care of each other. The hens raise their babies, fiercely protecting them from all dangers that come their way. They are my favorite thing of all the wonderful wildlife we have.

(Photo - Long and lean and young and lovely...........)

Through the year, they go about the business of living. They are at peace with their place in the universe. They quarrel sometimes but it is fleeting. Some people think they are not the most beautiful of the birds, but they don’t seem to worry about that. They are happy and secure with who they are.  I am a lucky one that they share this land with me. After an afternoon with them, I feel at peace with myself and happy with who and where I am.

You don’t always get what you want and I didn’t find the shed antlers today. But sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need.