I enter the woods near the wet weather spring, the ground moist and spongy under foot. The air is cool, so different from the oven-like summer day left behind a few feet back. The lane as it curves up into the woods dips then rises gradually up the long slope of the ridge. Becky weaves back and forth in the brush following her own invisible road of smells and enticements.
Leaving the lane I begin my own weave in the woods, not her scent driven journey, but no less purposeful for that. Boletes and milk-caps carpet the floor, sprung into being after the rain. An act of creation as remote from the distant buzzing saws and trucks in the next valley where a man’s son’s clear-cut an inheritance left. A pact, I imagine, completed with the same quiet understanding and betrayal of the sons in the final pages of “The Good Earth.”
Looking for a flush of chanterelles, or at least enough to accompany dinner, I find only two. I am now in the middle of the woods where sounds entering are muted and filtered, sanitized of offence. A doe jumps and runs away with an exaggerated slowness. I know that dance. She has left a fawn in the brush and leads Becky far away before easily eluding. Looking nearby I see the bright red and white spots, no more than twenty pounds, of a fawn asleep, unaware of her mother’s exertions.
I have now come to the fence at the base of the ridge. Newly installed last year, a large branch has fallen crushing the wire to the ground. Shifting the branch, I repair the wire with my fence pliers, each strand crimped back into tight harmony with the whole. We walk the perimeter until we get to the gates between the upper pasture and the hopper field. I pull and latch the gates. I’ll move the cattle in a few days and have come on this walk to make the pasture secure.
We walk out of the shade across the pasture. Becky plunges into a pond to cool off sending a dozen bull frogs skittering from shore to the depths. I’m sweating as we reenter the woods. Seemingly less open to wonder, the details of the remaining to-do list begin to crowd in as we walk back down the lane. Becky, no longer chasing scents, senses the change and walks by my side.
The woods now seem a bit stifling as the mid-afternoon sun drives all thought of breeze away. We cross the pasture back to the barn. Becky dives for the shade under the chicken coop. I piddle around for a few minutes and then follow her example and head to the house for a nap.