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Barns You Can See Through

Monday, April 3, 2006

After the horrible tornadoes in Tennessee, the same cold front swept through southern Ohio this afternoon. It brought the temperature plunging from the upper 60's to the 40's. There were tornado watches all day, and we kept wary eyes to the western sky, which glowered obligingly. Bill and I were due to play music for Liam's kindergarten class at 1:45, pretty much at the height of the storm. (It was a blast, as always. The kids held up their hands to ask questions afterwards, and when we'd call on them, they'd say, "My uncle has a kitar." By the time we were done, the sun had come out. Bill headed back to the office, and I took off up Germantown Road, wishing he could, too, and thanking my lucky stars that we live in such a beautiful part of the country.
Every curve on this road takes my breath away; she's like a beautiful model that I get to photograph. I watched the cloud shadows race across the bottoms. Here, once, was a house; you can see that by the daffodils and giant patches of tawny day lilies. The lilies make enormous patches of yellow-green against the grass. I wonder if they let them grow up and bloom. I'll check again this summer. This bottom would be awash in lilies in July. I smiled to find the daffodils were of the same variety that mark the old farmhouse foundation on our place. My gardenwhiz friend Gordon tells me they're one of the oldest still cultivated. They're tatty and frilly and a little silly, with no discernable parts, but they're the earliest, too, and obviously well-adapted, so they have the last laugh on me.
I kept jumping out of the car to take photos. In the 11-mile length of the road, I never saw another car. Imagine that, those of you who dodge them all day long as you're trying to cross the street. My father loved to drive us through open land in South Dakota, Kansas, Iowa. He'd sweep his arm across the vista and ask, "You worried about overpopulation? There's plenty of room out here. But nobody wants to live here. They all want to pile up on each other like rats in a corner." You said it, DOD. I guess I came by this love of solitude honestly.
Moments after I took this picture, two belted kingfishers came barreling down the run, a few feet off the water's surface, rattling like maniacs in some sort of mating game. I was able to tell that one had a rusty bra on (that would be the female); the other had a single blue band on its chest (the male) before they flared up over my head and continued on down the streambed. What a thrill!
I saw another kingfisher and five eastern phoebes on the stream. The phoebes would dart out of culverts and bridges as I went overhead. That's how little traffic there is on this enchanted road. Each passing car is an event.
Chetty and I ended the day by picking up the kids. The front brought no tornadoes; only a precipitous drop in temperature, and they weren't dressed for the walk from the bus stop. Chet is all aquiver as he waits and watches for the bus. I listen to NPR and admire his manly little rump as we wait. We should all be so nicely packed. My favorite image of the day: Chet watching his beloved kids disembark; a North Dakota sticker, backwards; the ghostly reflection of a bag of cracked corn across the window.


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