Monday Mornings

I look forward to most Mondays because they usually mean a return to calm and order as I regather my sanity, quickly straighten out the weekend mess, and untangle knots left behind from the week just past. They are an oasis of peace, until an incoming text dings, the phone rings, or an email requiring immediate attention is discovered waiting in the In box.
Until the world catches up with me, Monday is filled with mundane daily tasks, but I find peace in them. Winding the little old Dutch clock, taking my first sip of hot coffee, opening the blinds and curtains to the new day. If the sun is shining, I open the south-facing front door so sunshine will pour in on the rug and later in the morning, the cats will gather there for a solar nap. If it’s dreary, I turn on the little lamp in the foyer to hold back the gloom. When snow is falling, I always take a moment to watch the flakes feather down. By this time the cats are singing for their second breakfast, Tim having already given them one earlier. The cats get a dab of their favorite smelly food and then it’s Dill the dog’s turn for a little breakfast. While he eats, I grab my heavy chore coat for his consequent trip outside.
I love my big old, faded Carhartt and call her “Big Bertha.” I don’t even know how old she is, but she is sturdy and warm and we’ve been through a lot together – from trimming goat hooves and cleaning out stalls and pens, to hauling water when it’s 10 below. It takes a lot of cold for the wind to slice through and a thorn has never penetrated the tight weave of her fabric. I don’t have to hurry through my outside chores because I stay warm through almost every kind of weather.
This Monday morning (yesterday) was a good example of a peaceful start to the week. It didn’t last, it never does, but hey, I’ll take what I can get. After shielding my eyes from the glowing orb in the sky, I realized it wasn’t a meteor rocketing to Earth in the last of its flaming glory, it was simply the sun. It was a crisp 20 degrees and the sun struck diamonds from the frost hardened ground and dazzled on roofs and mailboxes. Once the dog was deposited back in the warm house (he shivers when the temperature drops below 30 degrees) I stopped and surveyed the woods. The deer were there, but barely visible, mere shadows as they silently faded in and out of the trees and eventually disappeared. Sometimes they sleep on the hill across the way, rising slowly, majestically, and cautiously when I come out the back door. They prance away, white tail flags flying, and return later in the day, to munch on the deer block we put out for them and to eat bird food. We have stopped putting cracked corn out for the deer after a neighbor mentioned it isn’t good for them. They browse on woody forage – something we know too well from the trees and shrubs in our yard that have been “nibbled.”
One day last week, I just happened to glance out the back and there was a flock of turkeys ambling through the woods. I don’t know where they were headed, but they were traveling with purpose.
And there are always the squirrels. Every morning, they leap excitedly from branch to branch and chase each other up and down the trunks of the tallest trees. Squirrels are fast on the ground, too, as they are able to run up to 20 mph! We have black and gray squirrels, and although they are different in color, they are the same species, and winter-plump fox squirrels – all of them watching my every move, waiting for their breakfast to be served. It’s not unusual to be sipping my first cup of coffee and casually glance outside to be greeted by a vigilant squirrel posted on a branch by the kitchen window. We finally found a feeder that is impervious to even the most determined squirrel, but there are still plenty of goodies for all to enjoy. I've seen chipmunks scampering about and a spunky little red squirrel was up and around at the feeders. Like chipmunks, red squirrels drowse through the coldest part of winter in a snug den or leafy nest. According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, flying squirrels are actually the most populous of the four types found in our neck of the woods, but we never see them because they are nocturnal and elusive.
After finishing the outside chores in the brisk air, I came back inside, poured a fresh cup of coffee, and began to jot down tasks I wanted to complete that day. Sometimes they are all crossed off by the end of the day, more often there are several that are rolled over to the next day. Then the phone rang, my cell signaled incoming texts and the day was truly begun. 

 Chipmunks are out and about early this year. 

Chipmunks are out and about early this year.