For nearly twenty years bats flew up the hollow every evening (except when hibernating) around dusk. A couple years ago I realized that I was no longer seeing them and this left me concerned about the spreading bat disease I had been reading about. Late Saturday night, however, I was driving up and out of the hollow when I was happy to see a few bats dipping down into my yellow headlights and grabbing insects before flitting to the darkness above. My hope for them has returned.
Just like a year ago, a black vulture nested in our barn and raised a young one. Last summer, she had two babies. I was just watching the chick, who has finally lost all of his fuzzy white feathers and looks like an authentic buzzard instead of a weird muppet creature. It was sitting in the barn window. looking around and then would suddenly swoop down inside the barn with wings spread. It would fly a circle and then land back in the open window and strut back and forth and make a gravelly sound of pride. It was cute. I have yet to see it fly outside of the barn.
In my little workshop building, there is a backroom I use as an office. I was sitting in there yesterday with the cat upon my lap, when in through the open door walked a young raccoon. I assume he was just looking for cat food, but thinking him rude, I told him so and off he ran in surprise.
For the last couple of days, this owl roosted in the open window of the barn. It appears to be a barred owl to my untrained eye, which makes sense because we have several of them in the hollow. We often hear their distinctive call or occasionally they chatter like monkeys. They have raised young several times since we’ve lived in the hollow and it is a joy to hear this occur. I took this photo with my cell phone and it looked so dark that you could barely make out the owl. I turned it over to Barb Weems-Mourglia and in just a few minutes on her phone she had enhanced it into this beautiful photograph.
Since I was a child, I have read from a novel every night before sleep. There have been times my schedule did not permit this and I would miss it terribly. The last couple years, however, I have read very few novels because they just couldn’t keep my attention. I would start a novel known to be a real page turner and I wouldn’t get half way through before I would abandon it.
This novel was different. I quickly fell into the soothing cadences of Henning Mankell’s writing and couldn’t have stopped reading even if I had wanted to. I don’t consider this Mr. Mankell’s best novel, but it was exactly what I needed at this time. It saddens me to think that he finished writing it the year of his death.
Here is a bit of a spoiler: my favorite part of the story may have been that most of the characters live on islands off the coast of Sweden in an archipelago. They get around in boats unless the ice is on, then they walk around. They all have boat houses on their islands in which they park their boats. The island characters live in old houses, though many of the houses have become summer retreats for city dwellers. The main character is a retired doctor who lives in his grandparent’s 100+ year old house. He continues the old tradition of bathing in the sea every morning, even when he has to chop a hole in the ice to do it. The culture of the islands is very interesting, reminiscent of many rural cultures, even the old culture of these Ozark hills.