Sitting on our deck is an ever-changing, never boring, and soul restoring experience. Other than the traffic on the near-by road, the sounds of nature dominate and can be easily heard on the deck, especially at night. The east-facing deck is bathed in sunlight until an hour or so after noon. As the shade on the deck deepens, during the hottest part of the day, it is a pleasant place to sit and watch vapor trails crisscrossing the sky; or to see animals and shapes in the clouds as they gather and disperse; or to watch a rainbow form in the still darkened sky following a rain storm.
At this time of year, much like spring, everything is in a state of constant flux. In just the space of a day or so, the corn has turned from deep green to lighter and lighter shades of green and yellow-green until, now, the stalks are drying to a shade of light golden, tan.
Wind is a constant–season-in-and-season-out–at the homestead, since the farm is located on one of the highest points in the county. Although the wind is ever-present, the sounds of the landscape formed by the wind change with every season, and from day-to-day.
Wind blowing through green, tassel-topped corn makes the nearly silent rustling swish-swish of a girl twirling and whirling in a wide-skirted taffeta dress. However, as the cornstalks dry, they rattle and beat against one another with an almost percussive beat created by two drum sticks tapped together at the beginning of a drum solo. When the wind changes direction and speed, the sounds of the drying corn stalks are transformed to what one would hear in a forest as a still-unseen, rushing mountain river waterfall tumbles and splashes over rocks.
The deck is twelve feet deep, and is the width of the the entire east end of the house. It seemed to be on the smallish side, even during the initial planning and building stages; however, after laying deck boards when the winds were gusting from the polar ice caps, and installing the railing during the heat of July, not to mention the endless hours spent staining and painting, the deck became larger than the landing zone on an aircraft carrier.
For visitors, at the homestead, it is the favored place to sit and read or to do absolutely nothing. City visitors, especially, relish the silence, where one could meditate without interruption, or easily fall asleep. For the Ohio Belles, it is a stage where there is space enough to perform, to sing and to dance with abandon during one of their many impromptu performances. For any furry, four-legged visitors or residents, it is a place to stretch out, near their owners, and to doze, dreaming about endless days of freely running across the fields.
With a view that changes from minute to minute, hours can be spent merely watching clouds gather or watching the path of white, fluffy clouds moving across an otherwise clear blue sky. One’s gaze can settle on one place one moment and, then, something captures the attention of the mind’s eye signaling subtle changes in a split second. When the corn isn’t as high as it is now, the deck is the perfect place to sit and just look at the pond. If it is windy, waves can form and create seemingly small ripples when viewed from a distance.
Watching the water, either from afar on the deck or on the grassy slope near the pond, water always seems to renew one’s soul. There has to be something deeply coded into our DNA that creates a yearning for water.
The pond is ever-changing in every season. When the temperatures drop and snow falls, the pond freezes and patterns of the wind, footprints of birds and deer crisscross over the surface, like a daily diary. In spring, the pond sheds the layers of ice and snow, and, along with the budding flowers, trees, and shrubs, emerges fresh and clear. When the air is much cooler than the water, steam rises off the surface of the pond, which once inspired a four-year-old to say, “Gramma, your pond is on fire.”
The deck is a great place from which to view stars, constellations, planets, and every one of those fantastic seasonal moons we have been having lately. There have been evenings when we sit on the deck way past dust, and into the absolute dark on moonless nights; just listening to the night sounds of toads, frogs, distant truck traffic, or the sound of dogs barking in a distance. What would have been considered a noisy nuisance in the city, barely registers, because nature’s sounds are so soothing, and varied.
Deer graze and move at that time of night, and can be just at the edge of the fields and within twenty feet of the deck. If they are startled by a human’s voice or, perhaps the noise one makes when shifting in a chair, does will stamp their feet while making a distinctive huff-like grunt to warn their fawns that humans and possible danger are near.
Over time, wildlife, in addition to the deer, like raccoons, woodchucks, which many know as groundhogs, turkeys, coyotes, red fox, quail, pheasants, and other birds wander close to the house. Although we have a trail camera that has captured pictures of deer, raccoons, red fox, as well as neighbors’ dogs, the most thrilling photos are those taken from a window. It is hoped that we never tire of seeing an unaware deer walking across the yard near the house or of a quail perched and calling on the deck railing.
One year, just after we moved into the house, I was inspired to chronicle the ever-changing vistas of the pond, as well as the surrounding trees, and fields. Every day, I took a picture of the pond, along with a distinctively shaped tree in the foreground, from the same spot on the deck Although several pictures were taken within seconds of one another, no two pictures were alike. My photo diary is something I continue, albeit less frequently, because when the vistas from a window or from the deck are a moment of amazing, I am compelled to document that moment.
The landscape is ever changing. The deck is the perfect spot to capture sunrises…reflected red and orange sunsets…rainbows…clouds…the pond…the trees…the fields…with all the colors, shades, hues, and shadows, and, much what like Mattie Stapnek wrote,
“Sunset is still my favorite color, and rainbow is second.”