By Bruce Stambaugh
The day was an answer to prayer.
After the long, miserable, snowy winter, and the damp, cloudy and windy days of early spring, soaking in the warmth and calm of a sunny afternoon was just what was needed. And that’s just what I did.
After a light Sunday lunch, I poured a glass of mint tea and headed to the back porch. I wasn’t alone.
Because of the unfriendly weather, we had delayed rescuing all of the porch furniture from storage. I simply sat on the steps that face our little garden pond, and absorbed the soothing sun and so much more.
Since it was a Sunday, the usual hustle and bustle of work traffic on our busy county road was nil. Sounds of horse clops and rolling wooden buggy wheels coursing along the unyielding macadam predominated, occasionally interspersed with vehicles motoring north and south.
That was the background noise. Around me the action took a more natural flow. Newly arrived Chipping Sparrows flitted from tree to greening grass, searching for seeds and nesting material, their sharp, delicate chipping joining the chorus of other birdcalls.
Downy Woodpeckers announced their arrival with an assured flutter of wings and their usual, perky chirp. Their herky-jerky head gyrations showed their cautiousness. Hunger quickly overcame their suspicions of me, and they clung wearily to the peanut butter suet feeder.
The much more brash male Red-bellied Woodpecker loudly barked out its presence as a warning to any other species that might have thoughts of feasting there. He clearly trumpeted that it was his turn, and he took it with me as an audience.
I didn’t realize I was doing such a good job of behaving myself until a female American Robin jumped out from beneath our porch deck. She bounced within inches of my feet and into the shade beneath the feeder that hangs in front of the kitchen window.
I sat as still as possible while she poked and pecked at the seed residue dropped by the perching birds onto the soft soil below. Then she hit the lottery. She snagged an earthworm, which she downed posthaste.
With that the robin bounded away, and then harshly scolded me as she winged it to a far limb on the old sugar maple 20 feet off. When she finished her lecture, she promptly flew away.
It was at that point that I noticed the dozen or so goldfish in the pond basking in the sun at water’s surface. All faced me, their mouths opening and closing as if to say, “Feed me. Feed me.”
I went to the little garden shed, grabbed a handful of fish food and plopped it into the water. The school scurried and splashed to get to the nutritious floating pebbles, then sank to the bottom to finish the meal.
The sun also brought out the resident green frog nestled into a cozy spot among the sprouting pond reeds. It picked off several insects while I sipped my tea. Bathed in abundant sunshine, the neighbor’s road horses grazed lazily on the new sprouts in the hillside pasture.
The first butterfly of the spring fluttered by and landed in the sun at the back of the porch. The Mourning Cloak was well-worn from its long flight north.
A male Cardinal called sweetly from a perch in front of the house. I eased around the corner and soon spotted it. He sat at the summit of one of the crimson maple trees in the front yard, singing his entire repertoire. Behind the house, the sun coaxed a small herd of deer into the alfalfa field.
The glorious sunshine had warmed my skin. The immerging springtime sights and sounds heartened me to the core.
© Bruce Stambaugh 2014