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Another Day in the Country

The spa was open

© Another Day in the Country

Every fall season, the question looms: “How long will I water?”

Tooltime Tim used to say to me, “It’s over. It’s fall! It’s time to let things die.”

But I never was willing to give up on those tomatoes or let the flowers gasp for moisture in the heat. So I’d keep watering.

Most mornings find me on the porch eating my breakfast. I don’t like eating alone, so I come out and sit in the porch swing and eat with the neighborhood. Often, it’s just me and wildlife holding forth.

When I’m watering, as I often am, birds come calling in search of water. They are thrilled that the spa is open. It’s a mutual admiration society. I am thrilled to watch their antics.

This morning, I set a sprinkler over by the bald cypress in the west corner of the lawn. Mrs. Cardinal was the first to come calling.

“How many days has it been since you turned on this shower?” she wanted to know. “It seems like ages.”

I assured her that it had been only a few days. I’d been hoping for some rain, but it hadn’t materialized; 40% isn’t exactly a high possibility, I guess.

The sprinkler went back and forth across its assigned path, hitting the lower branches of the cypress tree and watering a wheelbarrow full of flowers.

It took a while for the cycle to finish. She’d hop down to lower boughs, heavy with water droplets, and drink her fill.

Then she got brave enough to stay put, clinging to the slippery wet fronds with both feet so as not to be knocked off her perch from the force of the spray. She is featherweight, after all. She loved it!

Soon, other birds came to have their turn. A brown thrasher was rude, just chasing Mrs. C. to higher branches with a flick of his tail.

“My turn,” he called out, although Mrs. Cardinal was obviously still enjoying the luxury of the spa.

It was time. I’d finished my breakfast. So I moved the sprinkler down the sidewalk.

Word of the free bath available at the corner of 5th and D Sts. spread quickly.

A flock of little sparrows flew in — “whoosh, whoosh, whoosh.”

There must have been 30 little black-vested birds on the red dogwood bushes. It seemed like they were playing daredevil as they flitted down to the sidewalk, ruffling their feathers and then retreating to the bushes. The dogwood literally vibrated with excitement.

“Look at me,” one little sparrow called to the others as she stayed in a small puddle she’d found on the walkway, squinting her eyes against the spray but hunkering down and fluffing her feathers out in ecstasy.

She was actually taking a bath!

Mr. Cardinal came by and looked cross. He actually said something to the sparrow closest to him.

His wife probably had told him that it had been too long since he’d had a shower and to get himself over to Pat’s house because she was watering again.

“Who knows how long she’ll have the spa open,” I’m sure she said.

He was there, but he wasn’t all that eager. You wouldn’t find him bathing, that’s for sure. A few spritzes would do. Meanwhile, he was grumbling about the sparrow flock.

“Move-ins,” he mumbled.

It’s a Saturday morning, and my neighborhood is quiet.

Earlier, I heard a diesel truck fire up next door and I knew my neighbor was off to work in some field — hauling crops to an elevator, I presume.

Across the street, I can hear hammering. Something is being built or repaired in their backyard. I see a load of hay being hauled behind a lawnmower. I’m guessing it’s for hens. They’re chicken lovers, as I am.

My catawampus neighbor, my sister, Jessica, is up and about. I can tell because her back door is open, but I haven’t seen her out watering.

She bought another gallon of paint, so perhaps she has found something else to paint — although I’d have thought we’d covered everything paintable at least twice.

We are waiting now for a professional painter to come paint the gable. It will be a game changer when the color scheme comes to life. We can hardly wait. Painting this house has been quite the project for those “girls from California,” who have painted many a house, many a time, in Ramona.

“This is the last one,” Jess said to me the other day.

I don’t believe her, because she said something similar after we finished painting Ramona House two years ago.

I think the direct quote was “This is the last time!” So who knows what we’ll paint next, on another day in the country.

Last modified Sept. 22, 2022

 

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