Divine racket

April 2, 2021   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield – With Your Permission

The spring mornings are heralded by busy and very noisy bird chatter here in the country. Earlier this week, the cat was sitting on the kitchen window ledge, bug-eyed at what she heard but I missed it until Chandler, our dog, started bark-barking. I went out to call them both in and realized the air was filled with coyote song, yipping and howling. In was mid-morning, an unusual time of day for coyotes to be calling.

A friend told me later that a coyote has been spotted in their yard, near one of the sheds. When the is snow or the mud is thick here, canine prints twice the size of our dog’s are often on display near the ruins of the barn or on the path to the Rocks.

Over the years of our living here, they have taken four cats. So, our cat, Luna, has a curfew of 5:00 p.m. No matter how often I explain the reasons for this and the perils of evening strolling for cats in this neighbourhood, she still objects, still reads me the constitutional rights of cats to come and go as they please. There have been moments of debate at the house door until she sees the futility of further discussion and goes off to sulk, sitting in her pink rocking chair. She makes it move by shifting her body and consoles herself, there are some benefits to living here with me. She is otherwise quite adorable and she likes Chandler a lot.

Chandler has instructions to keep her evening business close to the house.

More conciliatory than the cat, she barks to the distant fields from the deck and sometimes they answer – with threats? I don’t know but Chandler seems to and she is willing, even eager, to come back into the safety of the house. 

This old house – about 120 years old – has been here so long, it is almost at one with the surrounding nature. Red brick, gingerbread trim, it has a well settled feel to it, as if its presence is no more harmful to its environment than the Rocks on the hill, with whom I regularly commune. It’s solid too. After 120 years of storms, this old house does not care about wind and rain. There are no creaks, no sense of shifting. I’ve been told that anyone who buys the property will tear the house down, as it does need some work and it is close to the busy road.

That would be a loss, in my opinion, another piece of history gone and whatever replaces it is unlikely to love the nature of this place as much as do these old timbers; is unlikely to be as well built, built to stand solid for 120 years.

Lots of years ago, I was visiting friends who had a lovely country home near London, U.K., for a few days. Early in the morning, there was so much and so loud bird song that it woke me up. There was no distress; they were just awake and getting their days sorted out, I guess, tree top gossip and all that but it was amazing how much noise they were making. There was no sleeping through it. Yet, with a cup of tea in hand, standing quietly on the porch to listen, it was wonderful.

In the countryside in Italy, about half way between Florence and Rome, where we lived for a while, spring is not such an abrupt change, as that winter, such as it is, is only a matter of a few weeks, not many months. Nature’s conversation is a constant flow, rather than the subject of dramatic changes that migration brings. There is much less – if any – movement among the birds and animals on land there, not having to deal with the big shifts in the weather.

Still marvellous to hear, to listen for familiar voices within the olive grove, it was thrilling to be there. Some buildings are three hundred years old, the ancient stones still reliably holding the roof, looking like an integral part of the scenery– makes me wonder what that place looks like now…

There were a few days in the Congo, camping in the jungle and that was a revelation of noise from the wildlife that lived there. It was a racket all the time but, at night, there was a chorus of nature’s noises. Somewhere amidst the trees was a great unknown population of night birds, monkeys’ screeching and much more that we didn’t think about…Still, it was the insects that dominated the whole. Theirs was rhythmic, an added toe tapping beat to the cacophony that made me dream this was the basis for jazz. 

Anyway, truth is, this old house has been sold and its fate is unknown to me. What I do know is that we are looking for a house to rent. We like living in the country, the sounds are music to us. If you know about a place, please let me know:

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