Saturday, May 21, 2011

One crow cawing

A crow cawed in the back yard, and I was reminded of walking through the woods on a foggy fall morning, the day following a night of light rain. Leaves are soft on such a morning -- soft and wet -- and footfalls silent. On such a morning, fog envelopes the tops of trees, embraces thin limbs.

When the crow cawed, I saw the side of a small hill, a round hill, and a gentle slope to a creek below. Small oak trees grew on the top of the hill and the side of the hill. The oaks were no more than a century old. Bark on the trees was black from morning dampness. Somewhere not far away, a squirrel chattered; perhaps complaining, perhaps only doing what squirrels do. Acorns crunched underfoot.

When the crow cawed and I remembered walking through the woods on a foggy fall morning, I also remembered, from two or three years ago, biting into a slice of fresh ham -- Not the kind quick-cured in a factory and bought in a grocery store; not the kind wrapped in plastic and with a label listing weight and price per pound and total price, and another label with instructions for baking and still another label announcing injection with a solution. The kind of ham I bit into two or three years ago had been wrapped in white butcher paper -- no labels of any kind, and the price marked with a grease pencil.

When I bit into the slice of fresh ham, an image came to my mind. The image was of a cool, wet day -- much like the day of walking through wet woods. The image was of a house in the woods; a house never painted, bare wood weathered by rain and sun, a long porch all the way across the front of the house and a tin roof, the kind of roof soft rain patters onto and you lie in bed and pull the old quilt tighter around your shoulders; the kind of rain on a cool morning, almost cold, and you lie in bed and just let your mind wander.

I saw, too, a chimney on the old house, and smoke rising from the chimney, drifting upward until taken into the fog, embraced by the fog.

That kind of morning, an almost cold morning, would be a morning for sleeping late, and when you do get out of bed, you poke at the coals in the fireplace and then put pine-knot kindling on the coals. When the kindling blazed, you lay two split oak logs on the flame and a third log on top of the two and then go to the kitchen and put on water for coffee. That kind of morning is a day for breakfast of sausage cooked in a cast iron skillet, for eggs over easy, grits maybe, hot biscuits, and coffee hot and strong.

Those are the things I saw when the crow cawed in the back yard.

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