Saturday, June 8, 2013

Saturday Musings, 08 June 2013

Good morning,

Through the open window, trills of waking birds entertain me.  The harsh red glow of the clock pierces the dim light of the room.  Its unrelenting march from midnight to four a.m. gives only one bittersweet, begrudging bounty:  A new twenty-four hour cycle.  I down a couple of pills, making a mental check against the day's allotment, and lean toward the open window.  I close my eyes, my fingers dancing over the keyboard. 

I no longer sit in the cool of a Missouri breeze; now I feel the mountain air and hear the wakening birds of an Ozark spring.  They nest in tall cedars, caressed by the wind; in the crook of a red bud branch, surrounded by fresh green and delicate crimson; in the hickories, the black walnuts, the enduring oaks.  My pen lies idle over the pages of a notebook, a paper notebook, with blue lines and scrawled complaints.  Only the birds and I stir; the small town has not yet come to life.

But a rustle in the leaves of the yard's hedge distracts me.  From the narrow porch of our house, I prick my ears.  There could be trouble.  I've once caught a glimpse of small bobcat, furtively twitching its tail and stalking the neighbors' fowl.  I have no defense, here on the porch, a silly city girl in flannel pajamas recording her tentative commitment to country life.  I do not sleep well; in times when the innocent lie oblivious, I hover on the porch, scanning the dark mountains for solace. 

This day, in the spring of 1988, before the sun has sent its warming rays above the rugged Boston Mountain Range, I lean forward, straining to hear the noise again.  When it comes, I jump: it has moved closer.  I draw myself against the house.  I should flee:  I should open the door beside me and step into the living room.  I freeze, instead.  A bobcat fears me more than I fear it, or just as much.  I want to see.

The leaves of the shrubbery part.  If I were home, in Kansas City, the intruder could just as easily be a wandering human looking for shelter or mischief.  Its form would crash through the bushes and from its mouth would come a cold cruel demand.  Its eyes would flare and its arms would brandish a thick stick or a firearm, and I would dive for the phone on the table just inside the door, frantic, clumsy, dialing for help. Sirens would wail while I crouched behind a sofa and the intruder pummeled on my door; then the figure would crash back through the thicket. Hammering steps would recede into the night, and I might even be believed, if the bushes bore signs of the hasty retreat.  My heart would stop beating sometime the next day, and I would resolve to discontinue my nighttime writing, or confine my quest for inspiration to the four walls of my city home.

But in the country, in the town of 563, the Newton County seat, such encroachments rarely occur.  And this morning, with the sun not yet lighting the yard as my feet shift on the rough wood of the porch, no human slips through the bushes.  I find myself face to face with a doe and her fawn.

Now three creatures stand motionless.  I have drawn a long full breath, and I dare not let it escape my lungs.  The noise would startle this pair.  The fawn steps forward on uncertain legs.  The mother's chest heaves.  I could swear she sees me.  She peers intently into my face, assessing the likelihood that I will unlock my muscles and lunge at her baby.  I hold myself rigid, keeping my arms close to my hips, clutching the notebook against my thigh, summoning the strength to stay silent.

She leans down, nudging the fawn.  Once more, she raises her head, turns her eye in my direction.  The air begins to lighten; dawn approaches.  From a few miles away, the muffled rumble of long-haul trucks drifts down toward us.  Then the rooster in the neighbors' yard lets out one strong crow,and with a quick flick of her white tail, the mother deer turns and urges her baby back into the hedge.  The branches snap back, and I see their fleeing forms, brown against the green.  In another moment, they have completely vanished.

I raise one hand to my face, rubbing my eyes, rolling my neck, blinking rapidly.  The other hand has clamped hard on my journal and the pen closed within its pages; I release my grip, and drop the notebook.  Now the rooster crows in earnest, and the impatient cackling of the hens in their coop breaks the stillness of the morning air.  I shift my stance, flexing my muscles, lifting and dropping my shoulders, until I can move freely again.  The breaking dawn plays on the mountain tops, the wind dances in the trees, and the birds join the cacophony as I go into the house to start the coffee.

Here in the present, the city birds call their morning messages outside my window, from which I can see that the sun has just barely cleared the maples to the east.  The pills I took an hour ago make my eyes heavy.  While the sun makes its climb in against the city skyline, I might catch a little sleep, perhaps dreaming, perhaps not.

Mugwumpishly tendered,

Corinne Corley

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The Missouri Mugwump™

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I've been many things in my life: A child, a daughter, a friend; a wife, a mother, a lawyer and a pet-owner. I've given my best to many things and my worst to a few. I live in Brookside, in an airplane bungalow. I'm an eternal optimist and a sometime-poet. If I ever got a poem published in The New Yorker, I would die a happy woman. I'm a proud supporter of the Arts in Kansas City. I vote Democrat, fly the American flag, cry at Hallmark commercials, and recycle.