• Shana Ritter

Still Country

My home is bounded by woods. Once the leaves have opened and the brambles grown back up I cannot see another house. On occasion a mower, or a car permeate the country quiet, what is actually a cacophony or whirring insects, bird song, squirrels, chipmunks, frogs and the almost undetectable deer. The iris are just coming into bloom, the peonies buds full on the stems, lettuce and kale are in, tomatoes and peppers to follow. I just planted marigolds yesterday.

I live less then ten miles from the center of town eight from the mall, 3 miles from the four lane, but it is the slope of land, the shifting pond, the bird filled trees that define my geography. The screened porch is the space between inside and out. Open to sound and shifting light, and yet still a room shaped by walls and ceiling. We cut the grass, trim the thickets, just enough to keep the tangle at bay.

Last night the coyotes rose up in a midnight wave of sound that drowned out everything else. For five minutes the dark filled with yips and howls ricocheting from one side of the ravine to the other. Then it was still for just a few seconds before the night filled again with the comforting noises; cicadas, bullfrogs, owls and the rustle of new leaves in the spring wind. The coyotes a reminder of what might still lie beyond.


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