Happy Birthday Daniel!

Posted in Thoughts and Reflections at 11:33 pm by admin

Today is Daniel’s birthday, if you can’t tell by the title of this post. We were still visiting his parents today. My day began at 4:15, long before the sun rose or the rooster down the street started his crowing. The katydids were certainly making a racket. The noise they make at home is nothing compared to the cacophony their southern cousins made. It was their “song” along with the unfamiliar bed that made my sleep fitful. The house was quite warm so the window was left open. I had a choice, listen to the insects or sweat, I chose insects.

After I paid my respects to the porcelain god, I walked down the hall to the kitchen for some coffee. I always leave a cup in the pot before I go to bed, because I’m not awake enough to pour water or scoop grounds first thing in the morning. On my way, I was quiet as a mouse, or so I thought. Trouble is, I was quiet as a suburban mouse. Those country mice must really be quiet, because I woke Daniel’s father. He must have noticed movement or the pitter patter of suburban feet. Fortunately he wasn’t carrying his shotgun, which he keeps behind the bedroom door. He looked at the clock on the stove, said something about another hour, and went back to bed. I opened the back door very slowly in an attempt to not make any noise, but it squeaked and squawked, so did the screen door. I made it out onto the deck without waking anyone else, are far as I know.

I was immediately inundated with the songs of thousands of katydids while being surrounded by 56 degrees of wonderful damp air. I say songs because the chirping was in stereo. As I stood facing the back of the property, the sound started far off to my right several properties away, then moved to the center, and finished far off to the left. I was right in the middle of the choir. This cycle repeated every twenty seconds or so. Every now and then two bullfrogs would chime in from the ponds that sit on their ten acres in the far back yard. It’s a good five minute walk from the house to the ponds. Several times a minute an owl would hoot, and it continued this for several minutes before it fell silent. I looked to the sky to see if I could see the Perseid meteor shower, but I didn’t notice a one. It was amazing to see that many stars in the sky. The last time I remember that many stars at night was when I was a kid at YMCA camp when I was twelve. I didn’t turn on the outside light, so there was just a glow from the night light in the kitchen. It was so dark, I could hardly make out the mountains about ten miles away.

After I was good and cold, and comfortable at last, I went back into the house and made a fresh pot of coffee, then returned on my computer to read some poetry. When I went back to the kitchen to get a fresh cup, I was greeted by Daniel’s father who was making his breakfast. The two of us sat at the dining room table and talked about his garden for a good hour before Daniel’s mother joined us. Daniel came into the kitchen at around 9:00.

At 10:00 I accompanied Daniel’s father to his garden where we proceeded to water the vegetable plants. Before we were finished, I noticed movement in the tomatoes. I hollered to Daniel’s father that there was an animal in the garden, and as the words were leaving my mouth, I recognized it as a rat. I was told to go get the shotgun, so I returned to the house and asked for it. Daniel’s mother wasn’t all too happy about this, but I told her what he wanted. She tried to give me the rifle, but I said he want’s the shotgun. I returned with the shotgun and a handful of shells. By this time the rat was nowhere to be found. We continued to water when there was movement again. I ran and grabbed the shotgun and shells, and as I handed him the gun I told him to be sure and not shoot me. The critter was a meadow vole. Before I could blink, Daniel’s father had the shotgun loaded and got off a round from the hip right into the tomato patch. I just about fell over laughing. I had never seen tomatoes jump like that before. Before he could reload, the little critter made it through the fence and disappeared into the tall grass. Daniel’s father wasn’t all to happy about missing it. We finished watering and returned to the house at 11:00. It was time to open birthday presents. Daniel received a card, a Notre Dame shirt (his Alma Mater), and a book. I then took my shower and we went out for Daniel’s birthday lunch to a local restaurant. Daniel ordered a New York strip steak and Daniel’s parents and I had chef’s salads with blue cheese dressing.

When we returned to the house, I began to gather up my things to pack for the trip home. Before I knew it, I was sound asleep on the bed catching up on what I had lost the night before. At 4:15 Daniel woke me and told me it was time to leave. During the next 45 minutes, we packed the car and said our good-byes, while Daniel’s father made several trips too and from the garden bringing us a half a trunk of fresh produce, including an entire celery plant, roots and all. I took two photos of Daniel with his parents, and then Daniel took two of me with them. We pulled out of his parents driveway at 5:00 in the evening and arrived home at 7:30.

As soon as we arrived home, I started a water change on the pond, made a pot of coffee, and put away the produce. Daniel fed the cat and unloaded the car. After I drained the pond water and started the refilling, I unpacked and did a load of laundry. By 8:15 we were sitting down in the living room. At around 9:00 Daniel was hungry so he made himself a box of rice pilaf with a chicken breast and I ate the sandwich I had packed for lunch on the way to his parents. It was a long two days, but Daniel accomplished quite a bit in the way of bringing his parents up to speed with electronics, and we had a really nice visit. On the way home, Daniel mentioned returning for another visit as a writing retreat. It’s very relaxing there, and there’s plenty of nature to inspire poetry. I look forward to our return.


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