The partially eaten moon nearly touched the tip of the turret on the big house perched on the ledge of the hill above our house. The cold sucked moisture from the air and caused the stars to pop with added luster, all of it lighting my way through the night as I walked Rabia up the gravel road.
I will miss this place.
I regret not getting to know the crows better; those guardians of our rural route bigger than a black cat and louder than geese when they want to be. They know my face and Rabia’s too, but we have not gotten to know each of them personally.
My favorite neighborhood canine (beside Rabia of course) is Pedro, an old something of a dog up the road we only see if we walk very early. I have watched the drama starring Pedro unfold with him standing behind a tree at the far back of his property while his ‘master’ calls ever more urgently from the front lawn. When she walks toward the back, yelling with deepening frustration at her own powerlessness, Pedro calmly walks the other way around to the front of the house so as not to be seen.
Then there is the Great Blue Heron that hangs out in the marshy river, standing unmoved on one leg as we pass (if Rabia doesn’t make too much noise). I have always wondered how it is that old bird survives the sneaky snapping turtles the size of a Mini Cooper tire, lurking as they do like submarines below the surface.
We have seen the damage beaver do; slowly, incrementally gnawing forty and fifty foot birch trees at the shoreline until one night they fall – or the county cuts them down to remove a hazard. For nearly three years I have wanted to see one of those pesky wastrels at work but only once, from a distance as it swam in the river, was I so lucky.
I could go on – the hulking blue jays humping the lard feeder meant for little chickadees, geese gathering for migration at the mouth of the river and making the sound of a restaurant din all night long, the herd of deer that keep their nightly reservations for grazing on grass, apples, gardens, and landscaping on the multiple acres of land surrounding us – but where would I stop?
When I left my neighborhood in the city before coming to what I imagined was a quiet abode in the country, I missed the urban denizens that surrounded me – the bread man who sold fresh loaves each Saturday morning on the sidewalk, the regulars speed-walking to their cars in the morning with coffee in hand or a partially tied tie lagging around the neck, the hunched-back street person with the limp whose friendly smile and greeting always brought cheer.
There will be another place, and new characters and creatures to get to know and love. But gaining doesn’t take away the losing any more than losing prevents the eventual gaining. Just like the songbirds return to Vermont in the spring and remind me how quiet it had become with only the chickadees and crows around, this cycle of gain and loss embedded in the life of moving on will deliver something new even as it takes away what is cherished now. It is just like all of life, wherever we live, and whether we never moved at all.