It was not raining when I woke before daylight.
Outside in the greyness of not quite day, the wind blew, a low sighing that rose and ebbed, rose and ebbed like the breathing of a large slumbering animal.
Raising cautiously on one elbow I peered through the window, toward the yellow glow of the yard light, noticed the tossing of tree limbs, squirmed back down into the warmth of my cat-cluttered nest.
Within moments I knew that sleep had fled, not to return.
I keep a warm pullover, a pair of jeans or sweatpants stuffed in the bathroom hallway.
If I can make it that far without stepping on a cat, I can dress [after a fashion] quietly and proceed to the other end of the house without waking J.
Once it becomes obvious that I am kitchen-bound, the cats set up a clamour.
I have become fairly adept at setting out their bowls and snapping open a tin of treat food to be doled out in dollops without creating much noise. There are cats who inhale the revolting gobs of fishy food in one gulp and push rudely into the space of a neighbor who prefers to savor each gelatinous mouthful. There are those who want to indulge in a little think before deciding to eat.
The greedy ones win, even though I try to referee.
I slide open the door into the yard, rinse cat dishes, turn on the kettle or the coffee maker.
I made tea this morning in a chipped white mug, added honey; I zipped a fleece jacket as high as it would go and shrugged into my favorite old down vest--the one with four pockets. One of the deep ones with a snapped flap holds my camera safely.
The carport thermometer--the old yellowed plastic one left by the former owner--stood at 60 degrees.
Gold and apricot light bathed the edges of the sky as the sun tried to rise beyond the creek.
Willis trailed at my heels while the tortie sisters, Sally and Sadie dashed in zigs and zags along the path to the barn. The heavy air rang with bird song: two robins chortling madly in one of the maples, the pure sweet notes of a cardinal singing love songs from an old apple tree.
The racous conversation of crows floated up from the front pasture.
Pebbles trumpeted and hurried toward the barn annex where her grain is served, her hooves clomping on the soft ground along the fence.
Walking slowly back from the barn, hands wrapped around the mug of tea. I was startled by the explosive shriek of a bluejay landing in the tangled tracery of crabapple boughs.
I stashed the empty mug on a stand in the carport, pulled on my old gloves and made for the line fence along the back pasture--the place where I can always find downed branches to break into stove lengths for kindling. This gathering of slender dry sticks has become an almost daily ritual, a reason to be outdoors, to walk, to see and smell the weather.
Willis skittered through the fence, reared up to hone his claws on a tree trunk. As he turned the sun broke over him in a warm golden wash.
It was the only sunshine we would see all day!
I brought in my armload of twigs, let them slide gently into the box near the fireplace.
Rising wind billowed the heavy curtains at the sliding door, the cats fidgited in and out, pouncing on tattered old leaves that the wind whisked about their enclosure.
The pink and gold of dawn disappeared, over-taken by swaths of racing grey clouds.
J. roared off in old Snort'n Nort'n--on an errand--and by the time I had washed up mugs and spoons and cat dishes the first drops of rain were falling.
The turkeys have been feeding in the field beyond the creek for several weeks.
They are most often there at the beginning and the end of the days, hunched black shapes strung through the grass. They elude my efforts to get close enough for a really good photo, alert to my stealthy progress down the drive and across the road.
I stood on the front porch, trying various camera zoom settings, then slogged through the wet grass and tangled weeds at the verge of the road.
Most of my efforts produced photos that appeared drenched in a wash of dull grey.
I was unpleasantly wet, rain dripping from my long hair and drizzling down my collar.
Showered and properly dressed in dry warm clothes I stood at the open sliding door and watched the busyness of the birds. Instead of taking refuge from the steady deluge they thronged and
quarreled at the feeders.
This cardinal glowed through grey raindrops, barely distinguishable from the red of maple blossom.
He was only yards away.
His sweet song rose above the plash of rain pelting on the cement basement stairs, and
whispering wetly into green grass.
With each burst of song I could see the black gorget on his chest rise and fall.
I had letters to email--the dull business sort, some documents to locate in the filing cabinet; stodgy necessary tasks that soaked up the quiet hours while grey rain fell from the grey sky and the cats curled themselves into soft dreaming shapes in snug corners.