Sweet Home Pennsylvania June 7, 2008Posted by ourfriendben in chickens, critters, gardening, pets, wit and wisdom.
Tags: birds, cats, natural beauty, summer
Here at Hawk’s Haven, located in the precise middle of nowhere in scenic rural Pennsylvania, we are having a very premature heatwave. This weekend, the temperatures are pushing 100, with the humidity close behind. Our friend Ben and Silence Dogood, who fled the beloved South of our birth to escape unbearable heat and humidity, are now reduced to holing up in our little cottage and cursing. Maybe it’s finally time to move to Nova Scotia.
But wait. Our friend Ben was just looking out the sliding glass doors leading out onto our deck. And this is what I saw:
Our resident female feral cat, Kittenous, chose today to bring her kittens up onto the deck and introduce them to us. One by one, she deposited a white kitten with grey blotches, a beautiful little black-and-white boy, a female with dilute calico markings (grey and reddish-cream), an all-black kitten, and a huge brown tabby boy on the doormat. Then she looked on with quiet pride as our friend Ben stroked and picked up each kitten in turn. Meanwhile, our ratty old tom, Danticat, watched over the proceedings with a benevolently protective air.
While this little cat drama was playing out, the brilliant goldfinches visited the Nyjer feeder under our largest maple tree. In the yard, a male bluebird repeatedly flew to the ground, presumably spotting tasty bugs, then returned to the maple. A tanager flashed its scarlet plumage as it flew past. A chipmunk scooted down a tree trunk, only to be chased off by a male cardinal once it reached the ground. A ruby-throated hummingbird buzzed past in search of nectar. Our two surviving goldfish swam lazily in the deck water garden, while water iris bloomed like purple fireworks in the shallow container water garden under the trees.
Meanwhile, zebra swallowtails and mourning cloaks floated dreamily through the open air between trees. The ancient beauty bush (Kolkwitzia amabilis) dripped pink blooms in pendant sprays, a waterfall of bloom. And behind it all, a haze of abundant purple and pink and blue and gold and orange and red-violet blooms covered the perennial beds and the cultivated wild garden in front of the Pullet Palace. I could hear the chickens’ contented cackling mingling with the kittens’ mewing, the omnipresent birdsong, and, nearby, a frog’s insistent croak.
Reluctantly bringing my gaze back to the deck, I couldn’t help but smile at the abundance of colorful foliage and flowers Silence and I had combined into the deck plantings. Everywhere was color, scent, and bloom. And beyond, the burbling of our little stream, Hawk Run, as it splashed over the pebbles just beyond the deck.
This was just one view out the deck door. One view, one precious moment captured in the heart. “An instant, a second unchangeable,” as the Swedish poet Gunnar Ekelof says, “something that shall never turn to summer.” But it is summer, birth and rebirth, the old, lush story. Something, perhaps, that shall never turn to autumn. “Fish, flesh, and fowl commend all summer long/Whatever is begotten, born, and dies,” says Mr. Yeats in his poem “Sailing to Byzantium.” Commend the beauty of creation, he means, transient as it may be. But surely, surely, our friend Ben thinks, surely it is, in itself, enough. For outside that deck door is more than any heart can hold. Rejoice, and be glad in it.