Nearly every morning, when I wake up, the bed covers have been kicked, tossed, and otherwise molded into a loden cloud of duvet and blanket and sheet.
Belle-ah is curled up tightly beside me, her weight making it impossible for me to roll over…or move very much at all… without giving up glorious morning warmth (should I decide to roll over, all the covers beneath her stay put, rather than come with me). In addition, any substantial movement of mine elicits her ‘grumpy noises’ – a combination of sighs and humphs indicating I am disturbing her nap. Our Belle has proven to be quite the princess-in-training when it comes to waking up. That being said, any mention of a digestible offering – from cheese to an ice cube – can make all the difference.
Once I make my way downstairs, Blaze greets me from her ‘window seat’. This perch is a beautiful, but now former, ottoman positioned at her favorite window. It’s now regularly augmented with one of her two well-loved leopard print throw blankets (each, alternatively, forever being cycled through the laundry). By the time I show up on the first floor, John has already taken Blaze and Belle out to do their business. After that, it is the dogs’ job to check the ledger for who and/or what has visited The Inn* overnight. There is no actual ledger, only the one that can be manifested, via canine noses equipped with millions of scent receptor thingies. In addition, JoHn has also pushed all the right buttons, and coffee has subsequently (and magically) appeared in its pot.
I have no idea, anymore, whether JoHn always got up first and made the coffee, or if I started to sleep later so that the coffee would be hot and available for me. Regardless, he now gets pretty indignant if I even try to make the coffee, so I am either lucky… or a freaking genius.
Early spring brings a lot of changes to the yard and gardens. In winter, there are the occasional cocoa-puff piles of deer poo (which Belle sees and practically shouts, “BREAKFAST!”). There is an enormous, ancient, Yew beside the barn. It’s limbs hang low, especially when laden with snow, providing the sheltered warmth sought after by deer not only in storms, but on cold winter nights as well. When the spring melt is nearly over, the deer find other places to bed down for the night (and, we relax a bit when Belle is outside, as her easy access to the aforementioned disgusting breakfast option is no longer available).
While the deer seem to have gone off to find their spring bedrooms, our resident porcupines – Spike and Splinter – have returned and retaken their roles as slow moving, yet spine-y, surprisers of dogs. Porcupines don’t hibernate, but their ranges lessen by about 80 percent in winter. My guess is that their den (or dens) are over by the pond, in and amongst the hollowed out logs and ledge outcroppings. This, I am grateful for. Porkies are notorious for tree damage, and I love the trees in my gardens. Recently, a certain yellow-bellied sap sucker has been poking at my crabapples and I may soon embody – more so than I am comfortable with – the villain in a slasher film.
But, thus far, the only real damage the porcupines have done is to toss heaps of cores at the base of our heritage apple trees each fall. Hence, we have taken no steps toward eviction. With their return, however, we will begin leashing the dogs when we walk them into the yard after dark. This is because Spike and Splinter are nearly always at the top of the stone walls, twenty feet from the back door. The dogs go crazy, knowing they are there and, since we know that porcupines are quite intelligent, we can only assume Spike and Splinter know this will happen, and are hanging out there on purpose (then laughing about it behind the dogs’ backs).
Other changes are happening too, even though temperatures are only beginning to nudge themselves into the high 40s and 50s. The stiff and sharp foliage of the irises is now visible outside the screen porch door. Mosses are greening up, buds are swelling, and the birds’ activity level is off the charts, their songs becoming more and more varied as migrants return to join in the romantic chatter.
The boldest of winged diners don’t bother to fly away when I show up on the farmers/farmer’s/farmers’ porch each morning, with the day’s mixture of seed and/or suet, along with fresh water for their birdbath. The bath is heated during the winter, just enough to keep the water from freezing. On the coldest mornings, though, steam rises from the water and the mourning doves will sit on the snow-covered rim around it. By all accounts it looks like an aprés ski hot tub. Strangely, I miss this scene when its no longer a regular part of my day, and I’ll find myself all smiles again when it reoccurs next year.
This is the time of year, too, that I begin to track the return of the hummingbirds on Hummingbird Central. Their arrival – which won’t be until May – will impact the Inn’s Bistro Menu big time (we are – of course – committed to fresh, seasonal offerings). In early May, I’ll start to see reports of the little beauties in southern Maine, and this will be my cue to swap the suet feeders for the hummingbird feeders. Sticky-sided glass containers of sugar water will once again inhabit my fridge. After such a long journey, my annual guests will appreciate this treat waiting for them. It will be an energy-replenishing addition to the proteins they gather for themselves, and a nice bridge to the nectar that the honeysuckle and other favorite flowers will offer as they come into bloom.
The Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are in North Carolina right now. The site is addictive!
Warming our hands on coffee cups, it is not unusual for JoHn and I to gaze out the windows of this old inn, taking in the sights and sounds and happenings at this spot in Maine’s midcoast. On so many of these mornings we are in joint awe that we are so fortunate to be in this place. We have an oft repeated phrase when we find ourselves in the same spot, admiring the new day. It is not ‘reverent’. It is not ‘appropriate’. It is, in fact, totally sarcastic. But we get it.
I will turn to him, or he will turn to me… or neither of us will take our eyes off of what they cannot fathom is an everyday scene.
And one of us will deadpan to the other…
“Another sucky day in Maine.”
And we will both smile, chuckle.
Then turn toward our respective days, letting the hours ahead unfold.
Thanks for readin’.
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*The Inn is not an inn today, but it was until the early 1900s (so don’t show up with your luggage and ask to stay, because you’ll probably freak the dogs out :))