Thursday, October 23, 2008

View from the back door

My morning routine involves first lifting the shade of my bedroom window and looking outside at my woodshed roof to see whether or not it is covered with frost. Then, coming downstairs, I’ll look out the front door to scan the now-empty vegetable garden. Finally, my steps take me to the back door and the view there.

My backyard, really a pine-studded hillside, often holds early-morning surprises such as a passing deer or any number of different birds. And always, I inspect the three apple trees planted there by a low, rail fence. Even now, after numerous hard freezes, a few rubbery leaves cling to branches, tenacious, unwilling to release their grip and thereby signal the end to this past growing season.

It pleases me to know that I am doubtless the first human to tarry on these precise coordinates on the globe. Plenty of nearby places are better suited for house or even camp. The ground where my cottage stands was never tilled, whereas the hillside down the road a bit shows evidence of long-ago cultivation. So except for wandering hunter-gatherers, nobody has ever lived right here, at least until I arrived. To me, that’s very special and even a bit humbling.

On a 20-degree morning such as this, with not a speck of wind, wood smoke from my stove climbs straight up. But with the sun comes the first, gentle zephyr. This interrupts the smoke column. Then, as warming air continues to rise, brief gusts punch and jab at the rising smoke and standing on my back deck, I get a whiff of pungent birch. Thus my day begins, full of expectation and wonder.

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