Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Woods come back-

My family moved to Robert Frost country when I was ten. To an old farm on a hill by the Little Sugar River. Frost's poems were alive there- in the black raspberries living through the burned timber of the ruins of farmhouses. In the birches and the stone walls surrounding vanished towns. In one poem- "Ghost House"- he writes of "The woods come back to the mowing field".

Woods do indeed come back to neglected, forgotten places. Yet sometimes they wait and surround us, waiting for a foothold.

I am thinking of the apartments I live in here, for they are on the edge of a hill, in the midst of a forest. And the plants and animals who live in them have crept back, not caring that dozens of people with their cars from 31 states live here as well.

Crows,always enterprising, look for french fries spilled in the parking lots. They raid the nests of mockingbirds and robins, drawn by the shrubberies of hollies. Deer,too numerous and too tame ,roam the lawn among the grills and picnic tables.At night the raccoons come, attracted by bird feeders and the kibble left out for cats displaced by the Harpeth's Great Flood in May.Coons have no respect for property. To get at feeders they smash flower pots on the railings. Possums are less destructive and eat the sunflower seeds that the day shift of quarrelling chipmunks leave scattered. The chipmunks have a great city here. They take the stairs from one level to another. They live in retaining walls. They live under mulch.They are more numerous than the renters.

There are voles as well,nosing around under the pine straw. And one day I saw a meadow mouse the size of a walnut running down the sidewalk. I have yet to see a coyote or a skunk, but I do not doubt that they are here.

Canada Geese live on the pond near the sub-division down the hill. In New England ,to hear geese calling meant to hear spring coming. To hear summer leaving. In Tennessee it means nothing, for they stay all year. Two days after the flood I saw a pair at the Bank of America drive-through inspecting the pavement.

Barn swallows live under the eaves of the parking sheds. They come on April 18 and in early September they vanish, leaving us poorer. Their going brings us to the saddest of thoughts- Will we be here next year to see them?

I have written of the dapper little five-lined skinks that dart across my porch. And the other day I saw an Eastern Fence lizard running along the sidewalk. I had only seen them at the park before.

There is a Red tailed hawk who hunts over the apartments.I think he is looking down for rabbits. What rabbit could resist lawns perennially green and automatically sprinkled? I have seen one who frequents the shrub islands between the entrance gates. I think it a dangerous place to live, especially at the end of the month when the Uhauls and the Giant Mayflower moving vans pull in as the renters begin their own migration. But that is another story for another day, when I try to fathom what people from 31 states are doing here-

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