A Porch of My Own

A Porch of My Own

Friday, April 13, 2012

Where the wild things are.....

A couple of weeks ago I was working on the back porch cleaning the last of the kale I had picked from the garden. Suddenly I heard a gobble. I looked up from my kale and down the hill behind the cabin was a big gobbler strutting across the pasture, looking like the perfect Thanksgiving turkey. When they have their feathers spread out like that and their necks bright red, they walk with tiny steps, like a child walking in too big shoes trying to keep them on! It takes a lot of effort to get your body pumped up like they do. To the side of me I could hear a hen making her love call. Not to worry, her turkey man was on his way! I watched him as he headed that way and then things quieted down.

The turkeys that live here have been hanging around the last few weeks. We were so glad to see them; we had been worried after the drought and they seemed to be late in returning from wherever it is they go. We had only seen one hen and a bobcat got her right behind the cabin. There have now been about 18 hens around and we’ve seen 3 gobblers. One of the gobblers is gigantic. 

Yesterday I saw a lone hen at the water trough. They will separate when they are getting ready to nest. I hope she is wise in the way of the animal world and able to avoid the fate of her sister turkey hen. 

This morning I had been awakened by a hen loudly calling for a mate. Then I heard a loud noise that sounded like someone was banging on the metal roof! I looked but could not see anything. 

Well, a little bit after the handsome turkey man I had seen earlier headed toward his lady friend, I was walking out to hang something on the clothesline. I heard the same big bang that I had heard that morning. It was loud and sounded just like someone beating a hammer on a piece of tin. It was behind me. I turned around back toward where the gobbler had been headed earlier.

There were two gobblers and they were fighting for the hen! They had their wings spread wide and jumped into the air and banged their chests together. This was making the loud noise I had heard. I couldn't believe such a noise coming from the chests of birds, but there it was, right in front of me! They did this for a few times and then took off away from me. One went one way in the direction the hen had been calling from and the other went the opposite direction, hoping, I’m sure, to find another lady love.

This weekend we saw a baby hognose snake in the driveway. (The photo is of a big hognose we saw on the road last year.) Rickie really wanted to put him in a box and study him for a few days. I was less than enthusiastic, although I don’t have a big fear of snakes, I just don’t like to be surprised by them and I respect poisonous ones. The hognose isn’t poisonous. But I could picture him escaping and living in the cabin with me. Rickie decided against catching him. The snake slithered off toward the pumphouse, where I am sure he will get big and scare the bejeebers out of me one day.

I emptied out about 20 jars of peach jam and grape jelly from year before last. It’s still ok to eat but we find it loses some flavor when it is that old, so we don’t keep it. I put it all in a large enamelware bowl and put it out for the varmints. That evening I looked out the kitchen window and sure enough there was a big raccoon practically sitting in the bowl. Another raccoon waddled off, looking slightly comatose. They ate most of the bowl of jam that night. I don’t know if they were sick the next day but they sure were sticky! They didn’t return the next night or the next to finish it up. (Photo is raccoon footprint.)

I found some animal scat on the cliff a couple of weeks ago. It was full of deer hair. (Photo was taken at the top of the cliff back in the winter.) I had seen some hair scattered back by the turkey feeder. The scat was large and I think, although I can't be sure, that it was left by a mountain lion. We have them in the area. A deer was killed across the street from us last year by one, and another deer killed right down the street in my neighbor's yard one night. It is mostly rock back there so I couldn't find any tracks but I'm going to be keeping my eyes open!

A neighbor told me this week that they had seen two badgers (or the same one twice) during hunting season. We have never seen any. But we do have a lot of dens in the ground all over the place. Foxes live in them and we do often have foxes that visit us at the water trough at night looking for the food scraps we put out. So I assume there could be badgers living in some of them. I don't really want to run into one! Maybe they won't want to run into me either, so we will both be safe.

Living out here on the land between civilized subdivided America and the big empty wild west puts us in contact with many wild things. Some peaceful and some not so much. At times it can scare you but you can't be scared by the way it is if you want to experience the good life you can live here. 

"I have been studying the traits and dispositions of the "lower animals" (so called) and contrasting them with the traits and dispositions of man. I find the result humiliating to me." Mark Twain

"Wild animals would not stay in a country where there were so many people. Pa did not like to stay either. He liked a country where the wild animals lived without being afraid. " Laura Ingalls Wilder

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The love my Mama sewed in every stitch....

When you are a downsizer you can't save a lot of things and it's odd sometimes what you choose to save. I was emptying out our storage closet last week since we don't have enough left in it to justify keeping it and I ran across 2 things Mama had made for me. 

One was a set of kitchen towels she had crocheted a border on so you could button them to a cabinet or stove handle. Every home in the South has these, I believe, and our house had them as far back as I can remember. Mama made these for me when we bought our house in Katy 12 years ago.

The other and the most precious was some faded yellow curtains with nursery characters appliqued on the border. Mama made these when Larry was a baby. I was 18 years old when Larry was born. Looking back I realize what a baby I was myself. My mom still had 5 kids at home, the youngest my brother Lee who was only 8 years old. She worked full time and there were a lot of things going on in the family to cause her grief. Yet she worked at night making these for Larry's room. She cut out the nursery rhyme characters from a piece of material and hand appliqued them onto the yellow fabric. Yellow has always been one of my favorite colors. I like the warm fiesta colors - reds, yellows, and oranges. 

Larry was her first grandchild and held that special place that only the first one can hold. The first ones always seem to be the most independent and don't always stay close in proximity but they have that distinct place in the family that no one else shares with them. They are the ones you learn with and you often wish you could go back and do over some things. Mama made a lot of clothes for Larry when he was a baby. I think he was the only grandchild she did that for. I don't know where she found the time but she did and he is wearing things she made in some of his baby pictures.

Larry's baby bedroom was very plain and cheaply furnished. It didn't have all the latest gadgets and toys that kids have now. It didn't have a theme and his bedding wasn't special order that cost as much as the house payment. He had one pacifier and when that was misplaced you were in for a long night. I washed clothes every day because he would run out of diapers if I didn't. Pampers had just come out but we couldn't afford them. 

The yellow curtains were the most special thing about his room. They were made by a grandmother who was overworked and stressed almost beyond endurance during those times. My dad was drinking and the financial situation at their home was dire. My own marriage was not stable and never was from the beginning. I had knowingly married a man who bullied me and ran around on me because things were bad at my home and I wanted to get out of there whatever the cost. 

My mother and I were bound together in our unhappy situations, the feeling of helplessness shared and unspoken between us. But Larry was the joy that bound us also. And the gift of her time and the love she sewed into the baby curtains made them a treasure to rival Dolly Parton's coat of many colors. 

So for 15 moves these faded yellow curtains have made the cut when it came time to pack. I never consciously thought about why I kept them when I threw out items that were more expensive and fashionable. I just knew I could not let them go. They bind me to my mother still. And to the love she, baby Larry, and I shared. A love that brought a happiness to an 18 year old teenager during a time that saw much in the way of heartbreak for Mama and for me.

I cried when I saw these. This week it's been a year since Mama was released from her Alzheimer's prison. When the roll is called up yonder she'll be there.