Early Morning Dog Walking

British Soldier's Cap, (Cladonia cristatella), early morning dog walking
British Soldier’s Cap, (Cladonia cristatella)

Early morning dog walking is one of my favorite things of spring. We were a little late for our “early” but a lot of folks were still in bed. The woodcock weren’t peenting anymore, it was so late. The chickadees were calling their confusing call of “fee-bee. fee-bee. fee-bee.” I don’t think the phoebes and eastern wood pee-wees have returned yet.

The grouse, or a grouse, has returned to the old pile of logs left behind after a logging job. The slow thump.     thump.     thump.  picks up to a rapid-fire drumming as the grouse beats its wings. He’s looking for love.

Peter O’Neil brook is rushing and loud though not as high and fast as usual for early April. Without snow melt or much rain fall yet the brook has been low for months. I can hear it clearly as it’s only a third-mile from the house.

The ice is out down at Snapping Turtle Pond. It went out during the night two nights ago, a nice surprise for Ava yesterday morning. The look on her face was priceless. She stopped in her tracks 40 feet from the pond to stare, head tipping back and forth, adorable perky ears twitching. Could it be? Open water? Oh Joy! Pure joy! She raced to the pond, ran in and abruptly turned around and climbed out. Yes, the water is open but it still feels as though it was blanketed with ice a few hours earlier. She was disappointed. She swam but only long enough and far enough to turn herself around. There wasn’t any swimming this morning. She glanced at the water but spent her time there looking for a mink in the fire pit.

We passed British Soldier’s Cap (Cladonia cristatella) on the way back. It’s growing on our mailbox post. That horrible old mailbox and it’s ugly stand have to go. Have to go. But I’ll save the log the mailbox has perched on for the last 17 years and use it in the perennial garden. The sky spit a little snow, enough to catch a glimpse of a falling flake out of the corner of my eye but not enough to be sure it was snow. Another flake, then another, and yes, “spitting snow,” not flurries. If it weren’t for early morning dog walking I would have missed it.

It was warm enough in the house and outside last night to not have a fire overnight but cool enough inside and out this morning to need a fire. We’re still burning our fourth cord of wood for the winter though we’ll be through it by the end of the month. I grabbed an armload of dry cedar from the garden shed, called Ava and Zoey back to the house, and settled in. Steve made coffee before he went in for weekend duty. I poured a mug of steaming coffee and topped it off with heavy cream and maple syrup. The fire is burning and the woodstove has warmed enough to nearly stop it’s creaking and groan as it expands. The house isn’t warm yet but it will be soon.

Early morning dog walking – best way to start my day. What do you enjoy about early morning?