called us to be present, whether we were sleeping or not. I know I have woken out of a sound sleep, in velvety blackness and utter stillness, to hear, a moment later, a long-awaited rain beginning to fall, the
first few hesitant drops and later, as the rain picks up, the soft gurgle of water in the downspouts. This morning, apparently, I was called to be present and to attend to the dawn of a summer's day.
We have lived here on this farm for over thirty years and have gotten to know it, not as economics would understand, but by heart. For the first four or so years we lived here with running water to the kitchen sink (as long as the water in the dug well did not fall below the foot valve) and a couple of wood stoves.
We have not been farmers in the conventional sense - we had what some called a a "grocery farm" consisting of a cow or two, weaner pigs to raise over the summer, and my wife's big garden and her
chicken flock. For the lot of us, parents and children, our life was an adventure, coming as we did from a city and city amenities. As the years went on, these "70 acres, more or less," became more than a place to live. They became a world in miniature - our world, not without its stresses, but a world from
which we could watch the advance of the seasons and the circling of the stars and feel centered in an order beyond time.
Our bedroom windows give us views of most of our world. The window at the head of the bed looks out over the dooryard toward the barn, while the other two casements look out to Gibbon Mountain
behind us and across the Millstream Valley to Sharps Hill on the far side of the valley before us. In other seasons the front casement swings open toward the east and so allows air in but not rain or snow if the wind is westerly or southerly, while the back casement opens to the west and so provides air when "weather" descends upon us from the east or north.
When I woke this morning not even a breath of air moved. The poplar trees beside the house, which almost always have something to say to each other, were silent, and even the occasional sound of truck or car on the main road a mile or so away as the crow flies (much less busy now that a new four-lane highway has opened far away from us) seemed to have vanished. I was listening to silence, one of the most precious of all sounds in our noisy world. Then, out of the quiet, a crow announced the new day.
There are those that don't like crows and doubtless for good reason. Here, their ways, clever, shrewd, rather rowdy, serve more as a source of amusement than otherwise. An emphatic "Caw!" as the announcement of a new day - well, it makes the point which, proclaimed by a banty rooster, might have been overlooked or missed entirely.
Having made his point the crow stopped, and I realised one of the roosters in the old garage-turned-chicken-coop beside the barn had taken up the theme and, if lacking in volume, was making
up for it in elaboration.
And then began that most magical of all awakenings, the singing of the dawn chorus from the throats of first one bird, then another, then another - music of different melodies, loud and liquid, warbling and throaty, light and sweet, nearer and farther away. Even a frog down at the pond added his plucked-
banjo-string note to the chorus. Several crows took it up down in the lower meadow, and from the sound it rather appeared that one of the group was a youngster who thought his parents should do
something about breakfast. (We saw a threesome later in the back yard, a youngster as big as his parents demanding service, and the parents looking as if they had had about enough of parenthood.)
A new day was dawning, with all its possibilities before each of us in this small world, right down to that young crow and the frog at the pond. "Well begun is half done" the old phrase says. This day had begun well.
Words & Images
We moved to our farm in Sussex, New Brunswick from Toronto in 1977, only moving away in 2014.