And Then There Were Three…
Rhoda slowed down three days ago. She began “barking” two days ago. By yesterday, she could barely stand and would not eat. Her eyes were glassy. She struggled to breathe. We put her down before the other three hens might be affected by whatever had made our largest laying hen so sick so fast. We might have been too late to protect the others. Maybe it wasn’t a pathogen at all. We know nothing about poultry diseases. I suppose we’re destined to find out.
From the porch swing, I listened with my eyes closed. The Conductor far in the distance tapped his baton inaudibly on the music stand of Walker Mountain–a county to the west–warming up the orchestra. First movement, a gentle wave of ozone-scented air with a hint of pollen. Pianissimo, a lifting of small, translucent leaves west to east, followed by the gentle percussion of the first fat drops on the walkway. And suddenly (I could imagine the conductor’s shaggy mane tossed in the direction of this movement in the music) a fortissimo: rain so hard and so fast the audience was caught off guard–but only for a few bars, then tapering to piano dolce to the very last drop. The theatre curtains opened to full slanting sun peeking from the horizon under a dun canopy, climaxing in a brilliant rainbow just before dusk. Magnificent!
The Indignities of Age
For at least a year, I’ve had some weird intermittent burning pain in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th toes of my left foot. At times it would hobble me badly. It didn’t seem to be related to foot ware and I could reproduce it with any orthopedic mechanics—flexion, extension, compression, distraction, rotation, adduction, abduction…so didn’t know what to make of it. Now, I think maybe the underlying culprit is manifesting, and I’m not happy about it: a Morton’s neuroma. It’s not so bad when I’m wearing shoes, but barefoot is out of the question. A metatarsal support will help. But this thorn in the flesh is likely another “permanent” fixture in this impermanent house of clay. Oy.
The Only Constant is Change
My first passing through Floyd County was back in 1976. The purpose was to reach the bottom of Rock Castle Gorge and photograph wild flowers along Rock Castle Creek with my Minolta SRT 101 and screw-in close up lenses. The long, deep valley was lush with Trilliums, Foam Flower, Spring Beauties and was the first and only place I’d seen Virginia Bluebells and Dwarf Crested Iris across vast swaths of cove hardwood forest floor. I saw very little of that rich diversity on two visits to the same site last week. Why? Probably simply changes associated with succession—the natural progression of plant species that come with movement towards the “climax” community of the bioregion. And on the same front porch of the one remaining house in a once-populated valley, see the early and the late successional stages of the hiker-photographer—senescent but still standing, satisfied that, with or without bluebells, this forest has a mutable immortality. Life goes on, within us and without us…