Bearsville Fiction Saga, fragment, 17 July ’17

She was wearing surf shoes. He knew she liked to feel the ground underfoot, and would walk barefoot if she could do it safely. He wished she had dressed more carefully. Denim shorts and a lightweight striped-cotton shirt were not going to keep the bugs off.

She was walking west along the access road, shoulders slumped. Birds’ songs dropped into the forest, like celebratory mini-bombs. She seemed distracted, maybe even unconscious of the birds’ music.

To her south, the Sawkill gurgled over clusters of boulders left by thousands of years of thaws and floods. To her north, forest understory rustled when brushed by her knees and shoulders.

He worried, when she shortened stride and stayed more on her toes on slippery patches of moss. He worried, when the forest touched her shoulders, prime landing spots for ticks. He worried, as she walked, that she might not come home.

Though his following her was urgent, he didn’t want her to know he was there. So when when she stopped by an old wild-apple tree, he ducked.

She raised her chin to peek up into the tree. Her mouth was turned down. Maybe she was counting time lost, in her so-far no-vacations life?

A couple of squirrels lunged through the tall tree’s branches, making a muffled ruckus. Every few moments, leafy twigs or small, green apples fell through the tree, onto the forest floor.

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Bearsville Fourth, 2017

Not a bird called, no animal moved. The Sawkill rippled beyond the fence, under a turquoise-and-lapis sky.

Trees seemed close, as if they’d taken a step or two in her direction, holding their breath, touching limbs, leaves quiet. No insects buzzed.

When a cloud blocked the sunlight, something shifted. Evening had come.

A rabbit ran from a neighbor’s yard to the mossy shed near the woods where its burrow lay. A couple of birds fought silently in a tall wild-apple tree. A banjo twanged, and then a chime-like bell. Dinner?

The evening’s action should have been on the lawn, spread out before her, its varied textures and colors mapping this tree root system, or that habitual block of shadow. But now, as darkness lowered itself into the yard, the tiny to mid-sized creatures that normally ran, crawled, hopped, slithered or flew through it were nowhere to be seen. The space between house and woods, theirs and usually safe, was this evening motionless, except for the rabbit and a newly-calling mourning dove.

Do wild animals have calendars? Do they tell stories and count time, around their equivalents of campfires?

For her, an earthy, bright perfume of peppermint, sweetening, and mixing with, soft sparkles of pine and a diffuse base note of general ripening and decay, plus the talk of crows and jays these past few early mornings, said autumn was on its way.

A chipmunk ran out to the edge of the deck. Its target was a clump of sage laden with seedheads. Firecrackers started up. It ran away. The crackers stopped. The chippie ran out again. The dove lullabied the evening with a sad, soft cry, while from far away came a big, though faint, sound of real fireworks.

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Bearsville Solstice, 2017

This was where she lived. Her mind she saw as a purple martin colony house. Roof, floors and walls served to divide, to protect her feelings from stormy people, and predators. The doors connected her to the open world.

If life could be lived fearlessly, such a house would be redundant. She listened. Transition. Baby animals had their early-summer, hungry cries going. Wind teased the pines, their needles soft like smoke. A crow sat and held the topmost branch, whether for watching, or for food, she didn’t know.

A pale-yellow butterfly, a swallowtail, with black stripes and borders, but missing its tails, drank from scarlet lilies by the east fence. That bright but deep red, with a hint of persimmon, she hadn’t found a name for that color, yet.

The sage blooms were almost done. That baby animal cry came again.

“Watching,” said the crow.

A mate answered, “Watching, too.”

They talked back and forth.

Were they conversing, or were they saying, “That woman’s in the field again.”?

Then, some bird who chuckles. Some chirping, as you’d expect. Babies calling high but small. A thrush-type bird with a complicated song, delivered in couplets, sounding like a performance by twenty different birds in succession. And now a chorus rises. Have they gotten used to her, or is it their crepuscular habit? Whistles. And woodpecker hammers.

Sugar ants on the table: avoid the binoculars, please.

A small, dark shadow, emitting a low-pitched hum, five feet from her, at face height, looking at her, watching her surprise. Zooms off, with a long, low, “Z-z-z-z-z.” A first hummingbird.

Crow closer now, sending his call down into the yard, in her direction. Does he approve her stillness, appreciate her surprise? Is he a guardian?

Woods so full of birdsong and wind that the creek is almost inaudible. She hears it when she turns away.

The hollow where a rabbit lay last night. She hopes they’ll come again.

Till then, she’ll practice her cursive, which dances sometimes now, but otherwise stumbles, stutters and looks for a steady bass line.

Your emotions are clear, when writing slow, on paper. You can tell when something is too much. (Too little is no problem: a future open door.)

As she packs up, she notes a small, brownish bird, in the grass by the lilies.

No, it’s a baby rabbit. Maybe three inches long. It hops, and holds. She watches. It watches. She rises and takes her basket, and it holds still, still.

Too cute by half. Or more. No writing cursive anymore, can’t tell when it’s too much, now.

Love that little rabbit.

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June evening in Bearsville

A half-lit moon
in subdued sky,
an evening breeze
and rustling leaves,
and scents of pine
and sweetgum,
high
above the intermittent
runs of tires
on Yerry Hill,
and Sawkill’s
steady, hissing sough.

Then two birds sing
and one dove mourns
the loss of day,
while darkest squirrel
flies shadowed path
along
the sage in bloom.

#spring #roughhaiga

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April discovery

Bunny knoll is maintained by its rabbits. Sweet clover, blue and variegated violets, lambs-quarters, and dandelions, are kept sheared low. Dandelion blossoms stand tall and bright for two days, then disappear, leaving no subsequent seedheads. The rabbits’ hillock’s dense stands of rounded leaves and low-to-ground flowers, shaded by a neighbor’s dark pink malus (crabapple) and fuschia-colored buddleja (butterfly bush), abuts a lawn of soft-textured grasses five inches high. Their mini-meadow survives despite several power mowings last year.

#spring

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