It started with a scent wafting in my bedroom window as I was lounging in bed on Saturday--the smell of warm earth, clear air, and awakening woods. I felt compelled to go for a walk in our woods to see what was happening, to appreciate nature and take a break from my busy life.
The first thing I saw was a set of giant deer hoofprints. I know it's just a matter of weeks before the does and their fawns start making their appearances. But for now, they are hunkering down and making their nests.
Then I saw two giant pileated woodpeckers. They are huge. I finally put their call together with them. For years, I thought there were wild monkeys living in my woods. But I looked it up online, and figured out it was the pileated woodpeckers. It's not just the sound of knocking with them, but also a loud monkey call that stands out above all else.
As I got closer to our spring-fed pond deep in the woods, I thought there might be a flock of geese flying overhead, but it was just a chorus of mating frogs who sound like ducks. Unfortunately, the exuberant rustling and splashing of my dog Pippa shut them up, and it was suddenly like there was nothing there. But after we sat really still for a while, the frogs came floating up to the top and started quacking again. I was happy to see plenty of eggs from both the frogs and the giant Pennsylvania spotted salamanders we have in our pond (that's organic living for you!)
In the short time between when I left for my walk and when I turned back toward home, it seemed like the greenbrier turned green, and little tiny leaves sprouted from all the tangled grey twigs. The forest was a mix of bright color and faded gray, with all the limbs and trunks and branches tangled together...kind of like my hair.
Even deep in the woods I could hear my guinea hens squawking. The night before, one of them got chased (first by a hawk and then by the dog) into a corner of our deer fence and we thought she was dead from a broken neck. Lou, my husband, was sent to "clean her up" and he came back in saying she wasn't dead after all, just stuck.
"You saved Scooter!" I said, referencing that V8 commercial where the teacher resuscitates the rabbit. I got my monthly laugh out of him, and from now on, she will always be known as Scooter--although she ran into the woods from fright and hasn't been seen yet.
And now, it's time to plant the peas.
For more from Maria Rodale, go to www.mariasfarmcountrykitchen.com.