The porch on this log cabin faces east, thus so do we on this glorious spring evening, sitting on our silently gliding chairs, gazing at the gentle back-side of the sun’s rays. Shielded by the shade of the house and the chubby canopy above, we take in the sounds and senses of the close of day.
From the north, a neighbor and his guitar pick out chords, tunes and words to serenade the bustling animal life, and one or two friends, in the last flurry of outdoor activity before darkness settles comfortably on these woods. Actually, “settles” doesn’t quite describe it. Once the sun sets behind the ridge, the light seems to be slowly absorbed by the trees, gently and slowly sucked in, tucked away, and sipped on all night til the light of next day’s sun brings them a new batch of liquid light to drink.
A woodpecker astonishes with his jack-hammering the hollow trunk of a nearby tree whose fallen limbs will provide us with a week’s worth of fire wood next winter. The hollowness of the tree, the power of the woodpecker and the proximity to the house create the loudest noise we hear in these woods, louder even than the rifleshots of not-so-distant hunters.
This woodpecker is enormous – or so he seems to us. It appears to be a pileated woodpecker (a local taught us that a while back): brilliant red crown, black body with white stripes toward the tips of its black wings that we could only see when it sailed toward its target in the last moments of flight. It hops on the ground and around the tree trunk as much as it flies. All these things a city girl never learned. Thankfully, it is never too late.
And before we abandon the porch and retire to our books and lamps and cozy chairs for the night, we get again (it happened last night too!) a whiff of coolness whooshed up from the ravine beside us. With it comes a hint of sweetness, a bouquet of some plant or unseen blossom that perfumes the air just as long as the coolness lingers. It is reminiscent of a peace from childhood, when your mother, dressed for the evening in her favorite perfume, comes to your bedroom to tuck you in. And as she bends to kiss you goodnight, her scent embraces you too. When she leaves, a piece of her stays, or so you imagine. This then is the scent of day in the evening, preparing to leave for some fancy engagement. But at least it leaves us with a kiss, a memento, and a promise to come back before long.