Country mornings in the 501

Story and photos
by Linda Henderson

I love waking early in the morning when we are at our country home. With a cup of coffee with sugar and milk, I venture out to the porch with a blanket. I am greeted by the soft sounds of doves as they sing to announce that morning is about to unfold.  

I find a comfy spot on the porch swing to watch nature’s show. The sun is just topping the big oak trees that line the perimeter of the property. Sunlight falls on the tops of the waist-high native grass. The leaves on the trees are backlit with golden glowing illumination. Dew on the fresh cut grass looks like a sparkling, expensive diamond ring. The old gray barn is still in deep dark shadow awaiting morning’s brightness. The ancient water tower is at first only a dark gloomy structure, but within a few minutes, the sunlight hits the sides, and it shines like a new coin.    

Peace and quiet in the country sounds like birds calling for their mates, or maybe they are singing to announce that God has given us another day.  Without any sound, a giant barred owl swoops down into the high grass and flies off with a field mouse.

My eyes and ears are drawn to the songbirds whose songs reverberate across the valley. The abundance of trees that surround the property provide a bushy habitat for many of Arkansas’ native song birds. Crows soar high through the valley. Mockingbirds chirp and imitate the robin that just landed on the high wire. I can hear blue jays with their sharp and harsh call of jay-jay. Sparrows abound, singing a whistling, buzzing song. In the distance I can hear a woodpecker as it taps noisily on the hollow old tree across the road. The drumming sounds the woodpecker echo across the mountain.  

Momma bluebird pops out her head from the bluebird box that Mimi hung on the maple tree years ago. She takes flight and returns quickly with an insect for eager offspring. She turns her head to look at me and I guess finds me non-threating, for all I have in my hands is my favorite coffee cup.

When the sun becomes too intense to observe the morning looking to the east, I turn to watch the morning come alive from another view. In the morning sun, the butterflies become active in the field where the wildflowers bloom. They flutter from flower to flower in their silent quest to gather nectar.  

The peaceful sounds are interrupted by a metallic clatter. It sounds like something is running on a tin roof. I suspect the source of all the noise is a squirrel. The racket stops long enough for crazy Mr. Squirrel to look over the edge of the roof to see what the strange creature in the swing is doing. He finds I am only armed with pen and paper. In his frenzy to get away he falls to the ground with such a loud thump, his antics disturb momma bluebird and she flies away to find a quieter spot or maybe another insect for her hungry crew.  

The catalpa tree is giving blooms that are falling fast. The old tree provides worms for fishing down in the pond. A fishing pole can always be found in the barn, and there is nothing better than fresh fish for supper.

Sunning on a rock is Mr. King Snake. He is harmless and serves a useful purpose of mice and harmful snake eliminator, but he can give you quite a fright if you come upon him unexpectedly. 

Flowers planted from seed in the early spring now provide a bit of color to the early morning view. Their blooms will grace our country home’s table ’til winter’s first frost.  

As I listen closely to the sounds of morning, I hear noises of movement from down in the holler. Is it a bear, a deer, a wild turkey, the red fox or a wild hog?  Nope, it is just that crazy squirrel with his jaws filled with fallen acorns. He can hardly run for the bounty he has gathered. People say they wish for the quiet of the country, but if you listen, the country life is loud with the sounds of nature. 

If you are still and quiet, I am always surprised at how curious God’s creatures are about the one sitting on the porch. The birds fly close and perch at a safe distance. They look and observe to determine what you are and if you are a threat before flying off to find another meal.  

The sun is well up, and I am hearing movement in the house. That means more coffee to brew, bacon to fry, biscuits to bake and sausage gravy to make. Only at our country home do we consume such a calorie-laden breakfast, but that is part of the charm.  

Linda Henderson
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