It is still dark outside, and raining, though only the lightest of drizzles. I've been awake since before 5:00 a.m. which is about an hour earlier than usual. For a while I remained in bed, listening to the soft patter of rain on the roof and its steady drip off the eaves, savoring the fresh scent of damp air coming through the opened window's screen.
Usually the sound and smell of a spring rain acts like a tranquilizer, making sleep easy. But this morning, I found myself becoming more awake as the minutes passed, and after an hour of increasing restlessness, decided to slip from bed before I disturbed Myladylove. Even Moon the dog, who sleeps beside the bed but normally follows me to my work room whenever I get up, simply gave me a baleful stare and re-snuggled herself on her doggy bed, where she remains. So much for loyalty.
The weather pundits have predicted heavy rains and severe storms. There are flash flood warnings out. Of course they predicted the same thing for yesterday, and it only rained briefly in the early morning—not enough to discolor the river or cause a rise. I'm hoping their notions for today prove just as overly estimated. Certainly the light rain now falling is not going to make any problems, riverwise. Of course it is never the rain falling here—but rather that which falls on the watershed of the fifty or so miles of river upstream from here that becomes the issue.
The photo of the large white trillium at the head of this post was taken Friday during a brief ramble to check a nearby woods for warblers. A friend and I had hoped to get out yesterday morning for a much longer photography/birding session, but ended up calling things off based on the early showers and advice from the weather prophets. In retrospect, we should have ignored the warnings and gone anyway. I fear I'm turning into a wuss.
Late yesterday afternoon, I sat on the deck watching dark clouds swirl overhead and wondering why I'd failed to catch a single smallmouth bass during the fifteen minutes worth of casts I'd just made to the nearby pool. Usually, a quarter-hour of fishing garners me several rock bass and a feisty smallmouth or two. Was my angling omnipotence also slipping?
As I mulled this somber thought, a great blue heron clatter-squawked upstream and came flapping downriver. I watched as it gained altitude, skimming over the tops of the first trees—mostly tall sycamores—at the head of the long island across from the cottage. Then the big bird angled down, into the woods, leveled at about fifty feet high, sailed and flapped through the thick timber, and finally made a little upward maneuver to land lightly on a limb in one of the very tallest of the sycamores.
I suppose I could have taken a photo of the bird in that treetop, but you likely wouldn't have been able to see anything. The light was low, and even knowing the bird's exact location, it was just a dark blob among various limbs and shadows that also appeared as dark blobs. It might surprise you—unless you've lived beside a heron-rich stream for a while—that these huge wading birds even perch in trees. I know this revelation surprised me when I moved into this riverside cottage and began taking note of my feathered neighbors. Yet I've come to learn that blue herons spend a great deal of time sitting in trees—and not just low down, close to the water, either. A limb choice of fifty, sixty, even seventy-five feet up is a common height. Who knew?
What does still surprise—or at least amaze—me about these birds is how effortlessly and deftly they can fly through the island's dense woods. You wouldn't think a bird with a 6-foot wingspan could easily find a path between the jungly maze of intertwined limbs. Yet it does, and does so at high speed—faster than the turkey vultures who also come gliding into the island's woods to find themselves a lofty perch.
Well, it is now light. The rain has ceased, at least for the moment. The robin who started singing before even a hint of dawn appeared is still singing…and I'm pleased to report my old dog came into the workroom and curled up beside the desk soon after I wrote the line questioning her commitment to early action. I was premature in my remarks; I hope she forgives me.
And now it is time for coffee…