At dawn the hollow was bathed in an ominous yellow-green as if someone had swathed the sun in colored tissue paper. Thunderstorms were on their way. It figured that this was the day I picked to run errands.
By the time I dressed and stepped outside, racing to get a walk in before the storm hit, the sky was the gray of a sidewalk; dark clouds trudged across it like weary travelers.
Belle was wiggling and hopping, full of energy and eager for a walk; Max seemed eager to go, too, probably as much for Belle to burn off some of that energy as anything else! But at the top of the walkway, Frankie didn't scurry to meet us; instead he lingered by Tom's old diesel parked on the edge of the property. Unusual for him.
I suspected he sensed the storm coming, but he's been acting strange for days now. He's wishy-washy, unable to make up his mind about going for walks; he'll lag behind, screeching and fussing until we call his name, coaxing him to join us. Daniel said last week Frankie finally caught up, only to turn tail and fly all the way back home. And then yesterday I heard him squawking and squawking on the back deck. I hurried outside to see what was wrong; from the shrillness of his call I expected to see a mountain lion or a bear down near the creek, but as soon as I stepped outside and up to the railing where he perched, he quieted down.
It was about this time two years ago that he and Ruthie first appeared. Is he in mourning, remembering her? Is it just mating season and his squawking is an "I'm available" announcement to the neighborhood? Does he hover near the house when we go for walks, afraid he'll miss the arrival of a potential nest mate?
Who knows what's going on in that crazy bird's head? At any rate, Max, Belle and I left without him. The yellow wildflowers lining the roadside popped from the landscape, like one of those tinted photographs. Near the creek, we walked under a canopy of still branches - it was dreamlike, quiet except for the call of a hawk and a splash, Max taking a dip in a pond.
The trail opened up to a field of tall grass, dotted with a few red firewheels, purple dandelions and prairie verbena. I spotted a tarantula crawling along some rocks before disappearing into the grass. Belle and Max explored and nibbled on grass, but when the wind picked up and even darker clouds crowded the horizon, Belle trotted to my side and we continued toward home. I knew I was already pushing my luck with the rain.
It started soon after the critters finished breakfast, coming down hard and fast with a thunderous soundtrack, but it slowed by the time I was ready to leave the house. I was still determined to run my errands, because tomorrow is Tom's birthday and once again, I'm not prepared. On my list: steak and potatoes and cheesecake. A birthday card. Maybe a movie, or a shirt, or ... oh, he's so hard to shop for.
I slid into his little convertible (he's stopping by the Girl's dorm to move more of her belongings home and my car has more trunk space) and felt something cold. And wet. Yep, his roof is leaking. Poor man.
Still determined, I ignored the drip and headed down the road. Pop! One of the windshield wipers was gone, just like that. The blade part just broke right off and only the metal arm was scraping back and forth across the windshield. Sigh. I made a three-point turn and headed home. No errands today. I give up.